Have you ever felt that you are so busy but aren’t as productive as you want to be, or worse yet, you always struggle to finish tasks in hand? On this blogpost, we will explore ways to boost your productivity. Before that, let’s first discuss some possible causes of unproductivity.
Why you are not productive
Productivity is defined as “the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services.” In other words, it’s the ratio of output to input. The higher the ratio is, the higher the productivity is.
While external factors, like environment or structure, affect productivity, on this post, we will mainly focus on the factors you individually can control and manage.
1. Lack of clear goals or directions
Without a clear direction, you can run around passionately and energetically but most likely not getting anywhere, because you have no way to gauge progress and assess if you are on or off course according to your final goals.
2. Lack of prioritization
When all tasks are at the same level of urgency and importance, you in all likelihood will end up starting many but finish few.
3. Lack of motivation
When you face difficult, tedious or boring tasks, you will probably feel demotivated to work on them. And when your motivation is low, you will find yourself dragging your feet.
4. Lack of time management
When there’s no restricted timeframe or deadline in place, you will most likely procrastinate or keep perfecting tasks in an unnecessary manner, and eventually you will spend a huge amount of your precious resources for similar outcome.
5. Distraction and interruption
There are simply too many distractions in life, with the biggest modern-day distraction being the technology. With technology, information is only a few clicks away, yet it consumes you, so you end up spending too much time clicking or other activities such as texting, checking out your social media accounts and more. I was surprised to learn that American adults spend more than 11 hours a day watching, reading, listening or interacting with media.
The fact is – it takes time and effort switching from one task to another. While you may feel productive tackling different tasks simultaneously, much time is actually wasted on adjusting yourself or context switching among those tasks.
Procrastination can definitely make you unproductive. You can read more about the causes of it and ways to overcome it here.
Are you the type of person who fills up the calendar back-to-back every day? Overcommitment not only could cause distractions toward your goals, it also creates the unneeded stress which may make you feel overwhelmed and increase the level of your anxiety or burnout.
Tips on becoming productive
Being productive is important because you can do more with less time, which means you have more time to do what you truly enjoy; may it be reading, hanging out with friends, outing, or simply resting. Below are 12 tips on becoming more productive.
1. Set goals, plans and deadlines
I’ve written numerous times about the importance of having SMART goals, which is also crucial for your productivity. I have a habit of checking my calendar and planning for the next day before I turn off my phone at night. This daily habit helps me set goals each day.
2. Prioritize your to-dos
Eisenhower Matrix is a great tool which not only helps you prioritize your tasks by importance vs urgency, but also helps you categorize tasks into do-it-now, delegate, do-it-later or drop-it-completely.
80/20 rule is another great tool for your consideration. 80/20 means 20% of your effort creates 80% of the result. So, identify what tasks have the most impact, and do them first.
3. Start with the challenging tasks first
Once you come up with the priority list, tackle the hard tasks first and get them out of our way. You will feel both relieved and accomplished which may ignite your motivation for your next tasks.
4. Use time block
I use time block daily for tasks I need to do, and it is especially helpful when I work on my blogposts. I usually set a 60-minute time block but will do 2 blocks if I need more time to finish the project in hands. Time blocks allow you to visualize the time you have to complete the task and help you stay focused on that specific task.
5. Take breaks
You may think taking breaks is counterproductive while you try to be productive. In reality, short breaks actually empower you to clear your mind and recharge, and study shows breaks allow you to be more focused and productive.
6. Minimize distractions
Whether it’s digital or other distraction, keep a distraction list and limit the number of distractions during the day. Turning off the phone notifications and giving a heads up to your friends that you will not be reached in certain time are some easy steps to start with.
7. Say no to the to-dos
Examine your own to-do list and politely say “no more” to others when you can’t commit to any more tasks. Saying no may not be natural for you, but it’s definitely worth practicing.
8. Simplify your communications
Have you ever texted or emailed back and forth with someone for something simple, and 30 minutes later you both realized you haven’t really gotten to the main point? You are not alone. Oftentimes, it’s easier and more productive to just pick up the phone and talk.
9. Focus on one task at a time
One task at a time will help you stay focused and get the job done faster. This approach will give you the motivation to move on to the next one and the opportunity to savor your milestone. I enjoy and indulge in the pleasure of crossing things off on my to-do list.
10. Group similar tasks together
When I go out and do errands, for example, I put errands in different groups based on time and geographic locations. This habit helps me check things off and get all of them done in the most efficient and organized manner.
11. Learn from your own successes and mistakes
You can learn from your own experiences; what works, what doesn’t and what can be improved. Take some time to outline and absorb all the learnings before entering into the next task.
12. Ask for help
With the attitude of “I can just Google it” these days, people rarely open their mouth and ask for help from those who they know and can trust. You’d be surprised at how knowledgeable your friends are and how much they are willing to help. Learning and brainstorming through interacting with others can be super effective.
There you go; you now have my list of tips to becoming more productive. Start with a few that resonate with you and develop daily habits around them. Consistency is the key, and you will see results. Remember, it’s not only about working harder, it’s about enjoying life more by working smarter and being more productive.
About Faye Weng
Your Online Life and Career Coach
Faye Weng is an expert life and career coach who works with clients to take back control of their lives by rediscovering their passions, living/working with a clear purpose, and becoming people who can positively impact the communities around them. As your life and career coach, Faye will help you minimize noises and distractions, focus your effort and attention on the right things, execute a clear plan of action, and celebrate alongside of you when each milestone is reached. Click here to book a complimentary session.