I’ve been there too. We all have. You check your to-do list and it remains just as it was a day earlier – no task has been ticked (or crossed out) as completed. You feel so overwhelmed with the amount of work you still have to do. You feel disorganized and you could be likened to the proverbial chicken, running with its head cut off. We’ve all been there. Being productive is very important. It’s important to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, it’s important to presidents, it’s important to the officers in the military, it’s important to every high achiever.
Highly productive people seem to possess superhuman energy. Elon Musk for instance is said to regularly put in 80 to 100 work hour weeks, he splits this time mainly between SpaceX and Tesla Motors, two multibillion dollar businesses, both owned by him. By working 100 hours or 80 hours every week, Elon Musk is able to achieve in 4 months what other people achieve in a year. Marissa Meyer of Yahoo was also said to have spent similar hours at work while she was at Google.
So, what secrets do these people hold? How are they able to achieve so much while others seem to achieve so little? The truth is that there is no secret. They have only discovered some principles, and they have been disciplined enough to put these principles to work.
In this post, I want to highlight 10 productivity tips that will give you a head start and help you get more done everyday. As usual, most of what I recommend are things I’ve tried out myself. Be sure to apply them starting today.
How To Get More Done Everyday
Tip #1: Turn Off Distractions
This one is pretty straightforward. When you eliminate all forms of distractions, you are guaranteed to get more things done. Agreed, you might want to watch your favourite program on TV or you may want to know what your friends are up to on Facebook or Instagram. While these are not bad in themselves, allowing them to take your attention and time during your productive hours is really bad. You cannot have your email notifications on, and at the same time login to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts and still expect to remain fully focused and productive. If you will be truthful to yourself you will admit that either your productivity or your indulgence has to suffer. Make sure it’s not the former.
Tip #2: Take Notes, Lots Of It.
You are bound to come across various ideas and information while you work, some of the ideas that will come your way will be immediately relevant while others will be needed in the future. Either way, you shouldn’t let such information go without putting it down in one form or the other. You can make use of applications like Evernote or any text editor on your smartphone or laptop to take down notes. And if you like, you can go for the timeless option of a pen and jotter.
One hack that could come in handy especially when you have lots of things to put down is to record the information (as audio or video) instead. This can help you keep track of more ideas, and you can refer to them later.
Tip #3: Make A List
When you need to have text in an easy-to-digest format, you should go for lists. Lists make it easy for you to remember things. For instance, this post is broken into a list, if it had been written in a long essay format, it would be much more difficult to digest. So if you have a lot of information to keep track of, simply make a list out of such information.
Tip #4: Prioritize Your Tasks
It is a good idea to spend 10 to 20 minutes of your night to plan for the following day. Those final moments are important, and are good for creating a mental picture for the following day. You should spend these moments to create a list of things you want to accomplish.
Apart from just listing out your tasks, you should also determine their importance. You should find out which single task is capable of bringing you the greatest results. That should be the first on your list. This way, you will be guaranteed to get the most important things done first.
Tip #5: Create Schedules. Avoid Multitasking
Recently, there have been arguments against the use of to-do lists. To an extent these arguments are valid. While to-do lists will tell you what needs to be done, you still have to decide when each of the tasks should be done. It would be counter-intuitive to put the least important tasks during the times you are most productive, but if you rely only on using to-do lists, that might be exactly what you will end up doing.
A better alternative to this is to combine To-Do lists with schedules. This means you should assign a block of time each day to concentrate on accomplishing a single task. Don’t make the mistake of assigning two tasks to the same block of time. That’s multitasking and it will hurt your productivity. Focus on a single task and get it done.
Tip #6: Eat Breakfast
A good and healthy breakfast will help you keep a clear head and this would in turn help you accomplish more during the day. If you are one of the people that feel that skipping breakfast will help them concentrate better, you might have to think again because the reality is usually the opposite.
Tip #7: Hit The Gym Or Take A Walk
Exercise is not only important for your physical fitness, it is important for your mental fitness too. It has been proven many times that exercising in the morning keeps you alert during the day. It could be a session in the gym, a jog or a brisk walk for 30 minutes, make sure you stay in shape both physically and mentally.
Tip #8: Outsource When You Need To
You can’t be a master at everything. Sometimes, knowing your limitations is a sign of strength. Is there anything in your business that someone else can do better? Let that person handle it. Ideally, you should reach a point where you only do those things that nobody else can do better than you. This would give you more time to work on your business (and make it grow) as opposed to working in it. So, outsource when you can.
Tip #9: Give Yourself A Break
Burnouts do exist and if you don’t take it seriously, even a dream job or dream business can become hell. You can avoid burnouts by taking breaks regularly. As a guiding principle, you can take10 minutes off for every hour you spend working, you can also take at least one day off each week (this falls on Sunday for most people). You should also try to take longer breaks from work, typically a month. These breaks will help you get refreshed and usually, you will come back to your business with a new idea or an improvement on the previous one.
Tip #10: Don’t Hit The Snooze Button. Wake Up.
The snooze button, who isn’t guilty of hitting it? It could give you those precious 5 minutes you sorely need to round off your sleep. It helps you sleep a little bit more, which is good for your health, right? Well, wrong. Research has found out that hitting the snooze button does more harm than good. Instead of developing a dependence on it, you should instead make yourself get up and get more done.
What Other Productivity Tips And Hacks Do You Have?
I have stated some of the productivity tips and hacks I use to get more done. I would love to know which ones you use. Please make use of the Comments section and let me know what you think.