No one performs at fever pitch all the time. But that doesn’t mean there are no tricks to boost your productivity. These 13 suggestions, make them daily habits, and never look back. “I regret becoming more efficient, more productive, more effective and more successful” said no one, ever. If you want to become a dynamo rather than a dawdler at work or in your personal life, take notice. It won’t take long to notice the change.
1. Keep a calendar
Whether it’s on the wall, in your pocket or on your smartphone, there’s no substitute for being able to look at your commitments and know what your time constraints are for the day, the week or the month. The part that will take some getting used to will be religiously filling out what your duties are. Make a habit of filling out your calendar as soon as you know a deadline, start date, etc.
2. Prepare in advance
Trust that you know yourself well enough to block out a few minutes each day to plan ahead. It doesn’t matter whether it’s first thing each morning, or last thing at night. What matters is that you never forget to think about what you will accomplish during the next 24 hours. Written lists work for many people, and at least a portion of your daily planning should include evaluating the previous 24.
3. Get enough rest
Everyone is different. Whether you need 10 hours of sleep or function well on 7, strive to stick to a schedule so that you wake at approximately the same time each day, ready to go! We are all creatures of habit, and operating on too little or too much sleep can throw everything off.
4. Eat right
Your energy level, physical health and moods are largely determined by what you eat. So learn what your body needs and make sure to supply those needs. That doesn’t mean you have to weigh your portions to the ounce or that you can’t be tempted by a latte and a jelly doughnut on occasion. Just resolve to make a habit of consuming fresh, nutritious food – and take the time to enjoy it!
5. Find your niche
That’s an overworked phrase, to be sure. But it’s true. Formulas that work for most people don’t necessarily work for everyone. Find ways to remind yourself of what’s important each day, and learn what time of day is your best time. Develop your schedule and design your day with your strengths in mind. Schedule meetings and solo work when your brain is most engaged for those activities. Evaluate and embrace your individuality.
“Life is very interesting… in the end, some of your greatest pains, become your greatest strengths.” – Drew Barrymore
6. Regularly set goals
Write them, don’t just think them. Use a whiteboard in the office or a notebook on your desk. Share them, if appropriate. Give each goal a specific deadline, whether it’s a week or two years. Establish benchmarks if that seems like a logical way to accomplish those goals. Evaluate and analyze along the way, until it’s time to mark each goal “accomplished.”
7. Give up the “Try” mentality
“Do or do not; there is no try“, as a small green man has taught many generations. If you commit to doing something, give it your all. People who consistently “try”, find themselves quitting at the first sign of adversity, rather than committing to complete the task.
8. Learn to say no
There are limits to what one person is good at. If you’re not the best one for a task, decline or delegate the duties to someone you trust. Whether it’s chairing a committee, writing a brief, directing a project, or promoting a product. There are also other limits: time, energy, interest, money, appetite, location and expertise. Know your limits, and insist that family, friends and business associates respect your limitations and your choices.
9. Get outside
Sunlight and fresh air do wonders for the mind as well as the body. Physicians and mental health specialists concur. The Environmental Protection Agency notes that typical humans spend as much as 93% of their time indoors AND that spending just five minutes a day outside can improve your mood and boost your self-esteem.
10. Get moving
This doesn’t mean relocate – although finding the right kind of space to run your business is helpful in its own right. But it’s important to disrupt your normal routine a bit during the day. If you work at a desk, get up and walk around a bit. Talk to coworkers, get a drink of water, take a slow lap outside, or just close your mind for just a few minutes every couple of hours. If most of your time is spent standing, take a break and sit a spell whenever possible.
11. Disconnect on occasion
Realize that you are not only what you do. Unplug. Take small vacations. You’ll be better and more motivated when you need to be. Almost no one can go full speed all the time, and many who try end up becoming less productive as a result.
“Sometimes you just need to disconnect and enjoy your own company.”
12. Develop single-task focus
Acknowledge that multitasking is largely a myth, and resolve to eliminate distractions in your life as much as possible. Move from one task to another in rapid succession if need be, but try to concentrate on one thing at a time. Even if it’s a small task such as writing an email, let your mind stay on topic until you’ve hit send.
13. Set aside time to laugh
Productive, healthy people are often happy people. Know when it is time to lighten up and have some fun. Find things that make you happy and make sure to revisit them regularly. Use that calendar to find days or chunks of time to be entertained – you won’t regret it.
Which one of these habits are you going to start today? Leave your thoughts below!
Image courtesy of Twenty20.com