Productivity Improvement: How to Make Your Hours Count

productivity improvementThere is no doubt that we all want to be productive.  However, there is also no doubt that we can be easily distracted.  When was the last time you caught your friends or family members checking their phones at dinner, or maybe you noticed your office mate browsing through Facebook during work hours?  Distractions happen; so how do we go about finding ways to tackle the mission of productivity improvement?

If you feel like you get distracted for minutes, hours, or days upon end – causing you to miss deadlines, get unfocused, or veer completely off track – then it is time for you to get on board with productivity improvement.  There are four methods of productivity improvement to follow that will be sure to change you day around and slim down your “to-do” list.  Set your distractions aside and let’s take a look at your first step towards productivity improvement.

How to Improve Productivity

Curious as to how to be more productive throughout your day?  Check out these four easy to follow steps towards a productive day.

Step One:  Get Organized

Create a to-do list for yourself:  By seeing what you will need to accomplish in writing, you can keep track of all the things you need to be done.  If you want to look at a more expansive time line, consider printing out a calendar and filling in the dates where you need things done.  To-do lists are classic ways that you can help manage you time, so use these tips when creating your lists:

  • Be specific with the tasks you need to get done.  The more specific you are, the easier it will be to accomplish your goal.  For instance, do not just say “get groceries”.  Instead, list the types of groceries you need and plan out what you will be making for your next few meals so that you can pick up those items as well.
  • Do not add to or change up your to-do list throughout the day.  This will only create distractions for you and could cause you to get overwhelmed or stray off track with your list.

Have a daily plan:  Once you have your to-do list and know what you need to accomplish that day, then you can structure out your day to see how you can go about accomplishing your goals.  Get specific, and address things such as: breaks, eating, or feeding pets.

  • Even though you might have a specific plan, know that some things might take more or less than imagined.  If you are a stickler for perfection, do not get discouraged about this and just continue to move forward to your next task.  The key is to maintain your productivity levels no matter how long something takes!

Prioritize:  Maybe you have a pretty extensive to-do list.  The best way to go about managing a large list is to figure out which tasks are the most important, and which ones you should work on accomplishing first.  Try to start off with tasks that you have been leaving on the back burner, because the sooner you get them out of the way, the sooner you can move on to more relevant tasks.

Create incentive:  Everyone loves to be rewarded for their hard work.  Once you know the goals you have to increase your productivity and accomplish tasks, set up some little rewards or treats for yourself once you complete them.

Be mindful:  When you are trying to complete a goal or a task, do not spend time thinking about how productive or unproductive you are, or focus on what you need to do next.  Try your best to stay in the moment and keep away and distractions.  When you have completed your tasks, note ways that you could have worked better or things you could have done differently to be more productive.

Step 2: Stay Focused

Staying focused can be hard if: you have a large to-do list, you are used to multi-tasking, or you are working in a place where there are tons of distractions (iPads, phones, laptops, etc).  Below are some tips on how to stay focused to improve your productivity.

  • Remove anything around you that could cause you to become distracted, and try to stay away from them until you complete your task.  Keep your eye on the prize!
  • Close email accounts and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (no matter how tempting they may be)!
  • Use browser extensions that can block certain sites that you know will distract you if you know you have little self control online.
  • Turn off your phone or keep it in another room on silent.
  • Turn off the television or radio, unless you are listening to classical music to keep mental focus.

Don’t multi-task:  In a time when everything is “instant”, it might seem like a great idea to multi-task.  However, trying to do more things at once can just decrease your productivity and performance on certain tasks.  Stick to one thing at a time for maximum output.

Keep your work space clean:  Regardless of whether you are doing your work at home or in the office, it is important to keep the space you are working at clean and tidy.

Step 3: Be Kind To Yourself

productivity improvementHow can you be productive if you are working on only a few hours of sleep or consuming junk from day to day?  A key into being productivity is to take care of yourself properly.

  • Get enough sleep.  Adequate amounts of sleep with keep you more productive, less distracted, and more alert.
  • Get up with your alarm.  Hitting the snooze button over and over again will not get you anywhere, and you are just wasting time that could be spend being productive!
  • Eat healthy.  You are what you eat, so make sure that you are keeping yourself nourished and consuming the right amount of nutrition from all the parts of the food pyramid.  If you eat or drink junk, you will notice yourself feeling distracted, monotonous, or scatterbrained.  Also, try not to fall victim to “food coma”.  To make sure this does not happen, avoid heavy mid-day meals that are high in fat or sodium.
  • Give yourself breaks.  Being productive does not mean being a machine.  We all need to get up and stretch from time to time, so allow yourself 15 or 30 minute breaks every so often.

Step 4: Track your Productivity Performance

Once you have spent a week or so changing your habits to increase productivity, it is important to measure your progress to see how productive you are really becoming.  Here are some tools that will help you do so:

  • Review your progress each week with performance measuring tools that you can find online.
  • Be honest with any distractions or short comings that you may have experienced and take note on how to improve those.
  • Make goals and targets that you want to meet for the upcoming week.
  • Ask for feedback or help from peers, friends, family members, or teachers in regards to your productivity.
  • Find ways to stay motivated to continue working towards your goals and to stay productive each day.

Be Prepared to Be Productive

With these four useful steps for productivity improvement, you can work to fine tune and modify your daily routine and lifestyle habits to improve your daily productivity.  Once you get the hang of sticking to your goals and staying away from distractions, you will start to feel like you are adding hours to your day!