Productivity- 7 Powerful Improvement Tips

Productivity

Written by Alan Anderson

 

 Productivity- Working Smarter

Productivity techniques are all about getting more done in less time without added stress. Therefore, improving our productivity can be a vital way to maintain your health and well-being as our world becomes busier and busier.

In order to keep ahead, the solution for most people is just to work harder and longer hours.

However, this can create overload in our life. This overload can leave us stressed-out, which can impact our health and wellness. I learned this lesson the hard way as chronic stress nearly killed me.

So, learning about personal productivity helped me to achieve more with less stress. Overall, it’s about finding ways to work smarter and not harder. With the right techniques you can learn to achieve much more while still maintaining a balanced life.

Here are seven of my favorite personal productivity tips that I found most effective.

Productivity - Clarity

Tip #1- Get Clear

The first critical step is to get very clear about the key things you need to achieve, both in your business and your personal life. The busier our life becomes, the more important it is to have a very clear grasp of the big issues that are important to you.

Once you are clear about your major goals, it’s important to break these down  into clear action lists. Each action can then be weaved into your daily planner and task list.

Now that we are clear about our key goals and actions, it’s time to get focused on producing results and managing our time.

Productivity - focus

 Tip #2- Productivity Focus

It’s almost impossible to escape that we live in a powerful digital age. Although this digital power is designed to save us time and make us more effective, it is often a major source of distraction.

So, improving our productivity requires us to be very focused on our major goals and the actions required to achieve them.  That’s why it’s important to become aware of our own areas of distraction.

Although this sounds simple, it can be a major hurdle for many. It can be challenging because self-review of our own behaviors can be quite daunting for many people.

Honest self-review requires us to recognize and accept that we may be over using our smart phones and social media. Accepting that much of our technology use can be unproductive is a challenging fact to face.

Crunch Time

So, it’s crunch time. Take time out for an honest look at how you use technology. Is it really making you more productive and focused on achieving your key goals?

My own ability to focus and be more productive was greatly increased when I accepted that some technology was distracting me from the prize.

My best results came when I finally turned off my smart phone and computer alerts. Then, I set aside specific times each day to check emails and updates. Most importantly, I let my colleagues and friends know the time each day that I had set aside to respond to emails and texts.

Productivity- Power Hour

Tip #3- Productivity Power Hour Plus

Once we have removed as much distraction as possible, we can now focus on one key task at a time.  However, it is important to give our brains regular rest, as our brains are not designed to stay very focused for a long periods.

The best way to do this is to shift our focus regularly.  This regular ‘state’ shift allows us to keep our brain running at its peak all day. Without these state shifts your brain may become tired and less effective.

Also, the best way to stay fresh and focused is to block out sixty to ninety-minute sessions in your diary. Pick the task or tasks that you need to complete and focus totally for this period on this and nothing else. You will be amazed at how much you can produce in ninety minutes.

Power of Ninety

Up to ninety minutes seems to be the optimum time for our brain to stay in a state of flow without becoming tired.

This state of flow allows us to remain calm and highly focused, and allows our brain to work at its peak. This is the peak mental state that many athletes, top business people and creatives use to engage their minds to achieve at the highest level.

Once you complete each sixty to ninety-minute work block, it’s important to create a short state change. This state change gives your brain a brief rest and allows it to reset before beginning a second power hour or power ninety.

Generally-speaking, a state change can be induced by shifting your focus onto something completely different. This can be as simple as getting up and walking around, or taking a few deep breaths and stretching. So, a state change helps you to break a cycle of thoughts that may be creating mental stress or tiredness.

Take a break for five minutes or so and complete a physical task. The act of getting up and moving breaks your focus. This helps to refresh you mind before you move onto your next block of work.

productivity -prioritize

Tip #4- Prioritize for Productivity not Preference

What are you setting as your priority each day?  How can you decide what tasks to prioritize each day?

One of the best tools that helped be to prioritize my day is using the Perito Principal.

The Perito principal is commonly known as the 80/20 rule. This rule suggests that around 80% of the results we achieve come from around 20% of the activities that we undertake.

So, the key point is to take a little time to analyze your activities and the results they produce. Look at your results and find the 20% of activities that regularly produce around 80% of your best results.

If your priority tasks are not improving your life, relationships or helping you achieve your major goals, then stop prioritizing them.

Also, an honest self-assessment of your existing priorities will also help you make big productivity gains.

Self Review

Take some time to look at your diary for the last few months. Where did you spend most of your time and effort?

Were you focused on the few big issues that were going to get the big result, or were you focused on the other 80% of stuff that didn’t really help you achieve much.

Finally, look at your current list of tasks and projects. Apply the 80/20 rule to find the 20% of tasks and actions that will give you biggest result.

Don’t worry about all the other non-priority tasks, because I will show you effective ways to deal with these in the next three tips.

productivity- dancing monkeys

Tip # 5- Banish Dancing Monkeys

I meet so many new managers who have become totally overwhelmed in their role. They think the title of ‘manager’ comes with super powers that allow them to save the world.

One of the best lessons I learned from my first business mentor was a powerful analogy.

He merely stated that I should not let my team put all their dancing monkeys on my desk. He then left me to ponder this sage advice. Dancing monkeys on the desk are all the issues and problems that your team want you to solve for them.

If you allow them to just dump all these issues on your desk, then these issues become like dancing monkeys.

Banish the Dancing Monkeys

Your role as a manager is to act as a leader to empower your team to act effectively.

Your role is to lead, not to solve every little issue. When you empower others to become problem solvers they then add to the productivity of the team.

Rather than allowing dancing monkeys to be dumped on your desk, you build a culture focused on creative solutions. Your time can then be spent on agreeing potential solutions to the big issues that help you achieve your goals.

This same principal can equally be applied at home.  Encourage your family members to become problem solvers rather than expecting you to solve every issue. That way you can take the role of leader and coach to encourage them to take responsibility for results.

This culture of problem solving leads directly into the next critical step.

productivity - help

Tip #6- Delegate or Die

Like most young managers I did not know how to delegate. My early solution to productivity was to work harder and harder.

I got busier and busier until I reached a state of physical and mental collapse. Not a great way to deal with time management and personal productivity.

My doctor gave me a warning that I would be dead by aged forty-five if I didn’t reduce my stress levels. So, I had to learn how to delegate and become more productive in-order to reduce the stress that had nearly killed me.

The Art of Delegation

The key with delegation is to take on the role of leader and coach. Once you shift your mind-set, you are then able to delegate specific projects to team members who show potential for development.

The key to successful delegation is therefore not just too just dump projects and work onto others in order to reduce your own load. It is a matter of coaching, supporting and guiding others to take on extra responsibilities to complete work or projects. This is also a very powerful method of developing career succession plans. As a leader, you need to be able to have your business run effectively without you being available every minute of the day.

Good delegation benefits all parties and gives you the time to focus on your 80/20 priorities while spending a minimal amount of time to lead and coach your delegates to produce highly productive results. What if you don’t have a team to delegate too? I cover this in the next step.

productivity -freelance

Tip #7- Productivity Support

Outsourcing has had a bad rap in many parts of the media. Seems like this bad rap started with major multi-nationals moving their whole operations overseas at great cost to the local economy. I am not a multi-national corporation and this is not the type of outsourcing that I want to discuss.

However, the world has moved on and free-lance support is now a powerful productivity option.

In step one, I talked about the technological explosion that has created huge opportunities for improving productivity. One the major developments in recent years is in the area of 1-2-1 outsourcing.

As the world of work and work styles changes, many highly skilled individuals now act as free-lancers providing a wide range of high quality business services to a global audience.

Getting Support

If you don’t have anyone in your team to delegate tasks too, I highly recommend you use well established services like www.upwork.com to find a free-lance service provider. These services are great for small businesses or busy people who don’t have the capacity or skills available to complete certain projects.

Don’t sit on the fence. Take your next urgent project and get someone on Upwork to complete it for you. If you find a highly-rated supplier I am sure you will be impressed with the results you can get. This type of service allows you to delegate either technically challenging tasks that you cannot achieve or most of the mundane tasks.

Another great online support resource is Fiverr.com which is another great market where you can search to find assistance for as little as five dollars. I found Fiverr a great way of finding good freelancers that you could use also on larger projects.

We now live in a world of digital super-connectivity. Here is a chance to really use it to increase your own productivity.

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