Last week, I wrote a blog post about the blurred workday and how professionals are working outside of the traditional 9-to-5 business hours. In this post, I wanted to follow up with a guide on how to become more productive so you can avoid having your work time spill over into your personal time. Here are my 5 steps to being more productive
Step 1: Plan, Plan, and Plan some more
Before even thinking about opening up your email in the morning, spend 5-10 minutes thinking about the day ahead of you and write down a plan of action. Whether it is a simple checklist, entering events into your calendar, or using a task management app, creating a list will help you stay on track throughout the day.
Step 2: Stick to the plan
If you budgeted 30 minutes to check your email in the morning, and another 30 minutes at the end of the day, make sure you stick to the plan. If you know that you only have 30 minutes to complete the task, you must prioritize your actions to get it completed. Also, when your allotted time is up, move onto the next task. Extending the task beyond the allotted time will inevitably push everything on your list down, which means you will end up with ?homework?. If tasks don?t get completed, ?reassign? the task to another time or day, or return to the task if you have extra time throughout the day.
Step 3: No multi-tasking
According to the American Psychological Association, ?Doing more than one task at a time, especially more than one complex task, takes a toll on productivity.? The study also showed that it takes longer to complete tasks when multitasking versus completing tasks one at a time. This step is crucial to becoming more productive as the brain is not built to handle heavy-duty multitasking. While it might not always be easy, staying focused on one task at a time will provide a huge ROI on your time.
Step 4: Budget time for breaks and family-time
In my previous post about the Blurred Workday, I referenced a statistic that 81% of people check their work email on the weekends. That same source noted that nearly 64% of people check their work email at least one time outside of normal business hours. While it may be a necessity to stay connected outside of normal business hours, it is equally important to do enjoyable things during your free time. A study from the University of Warwick found that happiness is tied to productivity. The study indicated that people who were happier tended to have 12% greater productivity than those who were less happy. It?s no wonder why companies like Google strive to offer perks to employees that increase happiness; daycare, catered food, concierge services for activities all help workers reduce stress and increase their overall happiness. So be sure to plan fun activities in your daily schedule, whether it?s dinner with the family or going on a bike ride.
Step 5: Fuel your body correctly
Happiness isn?t the only thing that can increase productivity. Eating a balanced diet, especially having a full breakfast, can help increase productivity. The brain needs fuel to work correctly and requires more energy than any other organ in the body. Fueling the brain with the right foods will make you more alert, less fatigued, and give you the ability to stay at the top of your game throughout the day. Additionally, adding exercise to your daily activities will also make you more alert, and it can actually improve your overall mood (chances are the crabby-pants sitting across from you didn?t exercise today).
While the list I have provided helps me to be more productive, it is meant to be a reference point for you to create your own list of items. Everyone is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. So go out and make your plan, execute, and see how you can get more out of yourself and your time.