Can you use some tips to increase your productivity? Do you leave work each day thinking about what you didn’t accomplish rather than what you did? We’ve all had those days. If it happens more frequently than not, then something needs to change.
Try some of the following steps to increase your productivity:
Create a to-do list. No, I do not mean a to-do list with all tasks that need to be accomplished. Instead, create a to-do list of the two or three tasks you want to accomplish that day. This will help that feeling of overwhelm from setting in.
It seems that every day my to-do list is longer by the end of the day than it was in the morning. This is the kiss of death. I focus so much on all there is to do that don’t ever feel like I get anything accomplished.
Plan one week at a time. I’ve recently implemented this after the persistent “suggestion” from my wife. Now, each Friday afternoon, I formally plan the upcoming week and document everything in an Excel spreadsheet. Click on the picture above to download the spreadsheet.
This is where you really have to think about your priorities. My number one priority is my relationship with God. So, I allocate time for church services and daily Bible reading. Next I fill in time for family events. Our family schedule is pretty hectic due to high school sports, club volleyball, church, etc. If I don’t put these on my calendar, I will forget.
My work activities get put on the schedule last. Sometimes I will have an appointment, networking event or travel that will conflict with something already scheduled. That’s okay. In most cases, the work activity will take precedence over the other but at least I know what I’m missing and can figure out whether I can reschedule it.
Another tip is to not schedule every hour of the day. This goes back to the first step above. You may know ahead of time what your daily to-do list will look like. If so, put those on your weekly schedule. If not, it’s okay. Put those tasks on your weekly schedule each evening when you plan the following day. If you schedule every hour, something will conflict and you won’t accomplish everything you planned.
Reduce your email time. I used to keep my email open all day. It constantly stared me in the face and sat open on my second monitor. Now, I try to only open it after I complete a task or take a break from a task.
It’s also a great practice to not check email first thing in the morning. Instead, focus on the most difficult task first thing in the morning. If you complete that task before doing anything else, you will be amazed at how well the rest of the day will go.
In my opinion, email is not meant to be the means of communication for which an immediate response is required. That should be a phone call. Stop conditioning yourself, your co-workers and clients that you will respond immediately. Of course there are always exceptions but you can be much more productive if you re-condition yourself.
Track your time. Being in public accounting, we track our time in quarter-hour increments throughout the day. Most law firms track their time in sixth of an hour increments. It’s enlightening to see how you spend your time. The same is said for being on a diet. If you write everything you will eat, you will likely eat less.
These are just a few practices I use to stay efficient and productive. There are several more and we could delve into these even more. What else do you recommend to increase productivity? Send me a message on Twitter (@BertPurdy) or leave a comment below.