Do you wish you could be more productive in getting things done?
The way I look at it, there are so many things I’d like to do, but so little time to get them all done. Life is short, and we spend much of our time doing “necessary” things like working or running errands that we want to make sure that:
- We’re making the most of the time we invest
- We have enough free time to enjoy
Perhaps you have additional motivations as well.
Bottom line is that being productive can help us get the most out of our life, and learning skills on how to be productive can help us make that happen.
Previously, I had published 10 Tips to Improve Productivity. You may want to check out that post to get the full discussion on each of the tips, as well as the comments that they generated. For purposes of this post, I’ll simply list the first 10 tips here:
- Wake Up Early
- Do the Most important Things First
- Follow the 80/20 rule
- Learn to Say No
- Create a Not-To-Do List
- Visualize Success
- Chip Away at Long-Term Projects
- Carry a Note Pad for Ideas
- Set Aside “You” Time
Since publishing this list, I’ve been thinking of additional tips that could help many people be more productive, and thus help accomplish great things.
Here are 10 new tips to increase productivity:
- Plan in Reverse – Think about the end goal, and work backwards from there. Do you need to get a project done? Consider when you want it done, think about the steps required to complete the task, and map out a timeline. Sometimes, there are dependencies – for example, let’s say Step 3 of a project must be completed before you can begin Step 4. Start with the end in mind, and assess what needs to be done and how long interim steps will take. This can help you plan a project in an informed manner, while working toward a deadline.
- Avoid Analysis Paralysis – If something is very important, or truly requires significant thought or analysis, and then take the necessary time. However, many decisions aren’t that important. Instead of over thinking things that aren’t truly important, make a decision and go with it. Your instincts and initial thoughts are probably better than you think.
- Audit your Time – As this is a personal finance blog, think about the examples people give about recording all their expenses. Personally, along those lines, I do an “audit”, where I record expenses for a month or two, get an idea of where things are going well or not, and change spending habits accordingly. This concept can apply to your time management as well. Track how long you’re spending getting things done, and figure out where your bottlenecks are. For example: if you’re not able to exercise on days you want to, but time tracking reveals that you cook dinner for 1 hour each day, maybe you could make more simple dinners that take 30 minutes instead, and find time for the exercise.
- Set Time Limits – As a corollary to auditing time, once you get an idea of how much time you spend on specific tasks, you can determine how much time you should be spending on things. Set a timer, and make yourself get something done in a specific time frame. It’s amazing how well many of us can do when deadlines are present.
- Sleep More – In the original list of 10 tips, I suggested getting up early. After thinking about that some more, I’d like to add that many of us could actually use more sleep than we’re currently getting. So, getting up early can be great, provided we get the right amount of sleep. Early to bed, early to rise.
- Purge – I need to do better with this. If something is not needed anymore, junk it. This includes physical items like papers, trinkets, etc – as well as tasks. If something provides you with no further value, or less value than you’re putting into it, get rid of it.
- Create Templates – Try to avoid spending time doing the same exact thing over and over; rather, streamline your efforts by investing time into doing something once, and then leveraging it in the future. This can range from template emails to clients or customers, automated email signatures, or other repetitive tasks of the like.
- Meditate – I don’t regularly do this. That said, the small sample of times when I actually tried this did help. Investing some time to just chillax and completely disengage in this way can get you instant energy and a bit of a refreshed perspective.
- Stretch – I may be the only person who recommends this as a way to improve productivity, as it’s seemingly unrelated, right? Perhaps. Plus, it’s hard to do this while working. However, for me, I find that it provides a refreshed, energized feeling not unlike meditating or resting. It’s a bit alternative, but give it a shot, for a boost to get you going. It beats drinking caffeine, at least for me!
- Single-task – Some of us try to do multiple things at once, and thereby make our lives incredibly hectic. The thing is, it often means that we try to do many things without doing any of them right. Sometimes that’s fine, but sometimes it’s not. Focusing and getting something done right is a good way to avoid unproductive duplicative efforts letter. Single-tasking instead of multi-tasking works better in some situations.
What do you think?
Considering all 20 tips together (10 old and 10 new), which ones do you find most applicable or useful?
Are there any that you regularly practice or should practice? Perhaps you even have new productivity tips to add.