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Everyone wants to get more done during the day, but it’s easier said than done. Between dealing with clients, managing your team, responding to emails, attending meetings and the other numerous tasks that demand your attention, it can be hard to find a few minutes to eat lunch, let alone carve out time to work on additional projects or ramp up your productivity.
However, just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible. No matter how busy you are, you can get more done in the day, without losing your mind in the process. All you need is the right strategy.
Here are five productivity tips to help you get more done today:
Start the day off right
The way you start the day sets the tone for the rest of the day, which is why developing a structured morning routine is key for increased productivity.
Think about it: if you sleep through your alarm, wake up in a rush and run out the door feeling frenzied and stressed, how do you think the rest of your day is going to play out? Those frenzied and stressed feelings are going to follow you out the door and straight into your office, keeping you from doing your best work.
If you start the day purposefully and productively, the rest of your day will be purposeful and productive, as well. Wake up early. Eat breakfast. Get some exercise. Read an inspiring business book. Spend a few moments visualizing your success for the day. These seem like small things, but they make a huge difference in setting your day up for success.
For more on how morning routines can ramp up your productivity, be sure to read, “The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life” by Hal Elrod.
Tackle the hardest projects first
If you have a task or project that is either a) difficult, b) boring or c) you just don’t want to do, you’re likely to be tempted to put it off as long as you can. But pushing off those types of projects can actually make you less productive.
When you procrastinate working on a project you’re not keen on doing, the anticipatory anxiety and dread of eventually working on the project monopolizes space in your head. This makes you less efficient at the easier or less challenging tasks you choose to work on instead. When you get the hardest projects out of the way first, it’s like ripping off a band-aid: you get it over with and free up the mental space to concentrate on other tasks. This will increase your productivity throughout the day.
Many people believe in order to maximize productivity, you need to work around the clock, but that’s just not true.
If you want to do your best work (and get more done throughout the day) the best thing you can do is take frequent breaks. Taking breaks helps spark creativity, increase concentration and will keep you from burning out on your work. It’s also great for your body; spending all day glued to your desk poses some serious health risks, but taking frequent stretching and walking breaks will help counteract them.
Take a walk. Eat lunch outside. Go into an employee’s office to ask a question instead of sending an email. Spend a few minutes catching up on the news or reading an article in your favorite magazine. It seems counterintuitive, but taking a few minutes away from your work every so often will actually help you get more done.
One of the most important ways to increase your productivity is to avoid the sneaky “time sucks” that threaten it.
Some time-sucks are obvious, like social media. But other time-sucks are a little harder to recognize. They disguise themselves as crucial to your work and, as such, make you feel productive when you engage with them when really all they’re doing is taking you away from the more important projects. Those are the time-sucks you need to watch out for.
So, what are these cleverly disguised time-sucks? There are two major culprits: email and meetings.
Now, don’t get us wrong: you need to answer emails and you need to attend important meetings. But, you need to limit how much time you spend doing these things. Otherwise, they can eat up your entire day and keep you from getting anything productive done.
Set a few times of day (like 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4:30 p.m.) where you check and respond to emails, then leave it alone for the rest of the day. When you get invited to a meeting, ask yourself, “Do I really need to be in this meeting?” If the answer is no, skip it. And when a meeting comes up that you do have to attend, keep it as short and concise as possible.
Get tasks off your plate
Many entrepreneurs feel the need to do everything themselves in order to be successful. But if you want to be more productive (and not completely burn out on your business), you need to learn how to get things off your plate.
Look at your daily schedule and see what tasks you could pass off to someone else. Are you spending a lot of time dealing with customer inquiries? Hire a virtual assistant or customer service rep to manage them. Have you been working on a logo design for months without getting anywhere? Pass it off to your marketing team.
The more you can outsource to your team, the more free time you’ll have during the day to work on the projects that only you can manage, and the more you’ll get done in the process.
Getting more done throughout the day is possible. And with these tips, you’ll be surprised with just how much more productive you can be.