5 practical ways to increase productivity and effect
According to modern society, productivity leads to success. Start counting the number of self-help books on the topic, or try looking up the number of results from Google on the word itself (44 million and counting, at the time of writing), and it would appear we’re nigh obsessed with it.
But why do we really want to be more productive? Because we think it leads to professional success, which subsequently leads to personal success, which in turn leads to happiness – and, ultimately, waking up with a smile in the morning. Right?
Productivity and effect were sitting in a tree
Productivity plays a key role in achieving success in all aspects of life, but too often is it a catch-all for “work harder, achieve more”. Take Warren Buffet’s quote on success being 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, for instance – it immediately makes you think about work, doesn’t it?
Let’s change that.
Productivity means getting things done (well hello there, David Allen), as in all sorts of things. That’s useful enough in itself if you work at a conveyor belt, but the yield is infinitely higher if paired with a sufficient emphasis on effect, which means getting the right things done – whether at work or at home.
For the sake of brevity, I’m going to assume you already have the art of finding the right things that need doing pegged, and list a few basic remedies for increased productivity.
In no particular order
1. Take 15
Minutes, that is. Do it when you arrive at work and when you arrive home. Sit down with your list of things to do, and pick the most important ones. I recommend two or three to begin with. Then you don’t have to sit down all over again to find out what’s next once you’ve completed a task.
Not only will you feel the better for it, your colleagues, spouse, family and friends will, too.
And don’t you dare pick the easiest ones. Pick the most important ones.
2. Treat your brain as part of your body
Mind over matter? Try matter over mind. Your brain, as part of your body, will not function properly without proper nutrition, excercise and rest. When you think you’ve triumphed over your body by willing yourself to keep working into the wee hours of morning, you’ve only proved that you have no sense whatsoever as to what your body is really capable of.
It does not matter whether you are ot work or at home; eat right and eat regularly. Get up and stretch, walk and do a few excercises. People might consider it strange; this is there point where you don’t care. As for resting, see pt. 4.
Why do you do many things at once? What gives you the impression that doing things in parallell will result in faster completion than doing things in sequence? Try to learn how to juggle while you run. See if you get to where you’re going faster, or get the hang of juggling any faster as a result. Think about it.
Unless you’re doing very simple things that you’ve mastered to the point of committing them to muscle memory, do not multitask. I mean it.
4. Remove distractions.
To be productive, focus is required. Leave the Internet on if you must, but close unncessesary applications including social and IM services. If your employer demands online presence, set your status to Busy and be consistent about it.
Remove audible and visual notifications except calendar reminders, and silence everything including your phone – but keep it visible to screen incoming calls for urgency. If you work in an office landscape, find a quiet room or invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
At home, tell your family you’re busy and do not want to be disturbed. Close the door. Kill the TV. This way, you’ll be done faster so you can spend more time with them.
Incidentally, odds are you won’t enjoy this at first, as most of us have grown accustomed and addicted to distractions. If this is the case, set up a system in where you reward yourself for achieving steadily increased periods of focus – and don’t forget to…
5. Take breaks.
Stop. Do nothing. Nothing does not imply browse around for funny videos or read news or do chores. This may be combined with point 2, Socialize. Stop by the watercooler. Maybe play a little with the spouse or kids, if you have them. Just don’t do anything that engages your brain beyond muscle memory level skills.