10 Productivity Tips to Save You Time Every Day
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work that you have to do each day and a to-do list that grows quicker than you can check things off! We feel you – in this fast-paced world, there always seems like there’s an endless list of things to do! So, how do some people seem to be so chilled and composed?
We spoke to a range of girl bosses who shared some of their key productivity tips that have helped them slay their workday.
1. Make sure you have the right work environment
Before you even attempt any sort of work, you need to make sure your whole work setup is healthy! That means a CLEAN DESK for starters. If your desk is messy, your brain will be all over the place too. Be organised and have everything you need for the day within easy reach. Do you prefer to work with the radio on, or in silence? Make sure that your co-workers know what you like too, so they can be respectful of this instead of imposing their work routines on you.
Naturally, this is going to be completely different for everyone now that there’s a lot of remote working. So, if you are working from home, make sure you have a dedicated space to work. This doesn’t mean sitting on the couch or your bed in your PJs with the TV on. Yes, this is super chill and comfy, but you won’t be anywhere near as productive. Even if you don’t have the luxury of having a home office, have a dedicated table which you work on each day. Make sure it’s clean and clear and you can have quiet around you to focus.
2. Set Goals and Write Them Down!
How will you be able to get things done if you’re not even sure what you’re supposed to be doing. It’s so easy to get to work and just scroll through emails for hours. You start working on one thing and then move onto the next, seeming productive, but not actually getting anything done.
Whether you have a productivity planner or you just use a notebook, we recommend writing down your goals each day. On a Monday, start the day by writing down your weekly goals before you start with your day’s goals. Then, on Friday, review the goals for the week and see how productive you were.
We know that the world is super techy now, but there’s definitely something about writing them down and then crossing through them that makes it so satisfying. Naturally, you can get a digital checklist too if that’s what you’re into. Either way, just write down what you need to do so it’s visually there and clear.
3. Focus on ONE thing
Many people say that you should start the day with the hardest task, because otherwise you keep putting it off. It’s easy to do the little ones first because you feel like you’re being more productive as you’ve achieved something with them. However, the hardest task will feel even more daunting halfway through the workday when you’re already getting tired.
We say go one further and focus only on ONE thing each day. What is the most important thing that you need to do that day?
This is the premise of the book by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan called The ONE Thing. They talk about setting goals too and then ask the question “What is the ONE thing you need to do today to get closer to your goal?”. If you could only achieve one thing today, what would that be? That should be your focus for the day.
4. Mute emails
Emails are probably the most distracting thing at work – whether they’re from colleagues, clients, or those pesky newsletters that you don’t remember signing up to! That little pop up on your screen with a keyword in it that triggers you, along with everyone’s need for instant communication, you feel obliged to respond to it right away.
How do you ever get any work done with this level of multitasking? So, we recommend muting your emails. If you still get distracted by that red dot on the app, then close down the app completely. Only allow yourself to open it up once your important task has been done for the day. I bet no disasters will happen during that time and you will realise that it’s absolutely OK to have a break from your emails once in a while!
5. Reduce all distractions
According to RescueTime’s research, we can’t go for more than 6 minutes without checking an email or instant messaging. Add social media into this mix and you have a whole recipe for distraction disaster! And these are just digital distractions…
What about what else is going on around you? If you’re in the office, it’s so easy to get sucked into a conversation a colleague is having about the latest Netflix show or what they’re doing on the weekend. Then, when you’re at home, you suddenly realise you need to do the washing or your kids need you for something.
When you need to focus, eliminate ALL distractions. Leave your phone in another room if you have to, put your computer on Do Not Disturb (or the Windows equivalent!), tell the kids that mommy is working and cannot be disturbed, and put your head down!
6. Use the right productivity tools
There is probably a productivity software for everything these days, so you need to find the right ones to suit what you do. The company you work with may already have tools that the team uses, and you can find others that integrate with those tools too. Whatever you choose, the tools should improve your productivity, not add more processes to your already complicated workday.
For example, we use Asana as a project management tool, Slack for communicating with clients, Zoom for video calls, Zendesk for our support tickets and Toggl to timetrack all our activities. All of these tools also integrate with each other, making it one seamless process.
It may take time to find out which tools are right for you, but once you do, it will shave off hours off your workday. Use as many of the automation features available as possible, saving you hours per week.
7. Take Breaks
Whenever we say this one to people, they think it’s counterproductive! How can taking breaks lead to productivity? Well, we already covered the importance of taking a break in a previous blog post that you should check out.
But just try taking some short, regular breaks away from your computer or work environment. Go and do something different – read a book for a few minutes, make a cup of tea and chill… whatever it is, let your mind reset.
When you come back to your desk after a break, you feel refreshed and become a whole lot more productive. One word of advice though… don’t use your break to go and browse social media! This may feel fun, but this digital ingestion of content doesn’t really help you completely switch off.
8. Time block your calendar
If you want to be truly productive, put your tasks in your calendar so they’re part of your day. Lots of busy people say “if it’s not in my calendar, it’s not happening”. If that’s true, then pop your to-do list in there too! This will also help stop others popping meetings in your diary too. There’s always someone who thinks it’s essential that you have a meeting about something which could easily have been resolved by a simple email.
Even go as far as to block off your calendar for a lunch, or just some downtime. That way, you can have some time to yourself in the day too.
9. Plan for tomorrow
At the end of each day, take a look at what your diary looks like the next day and plan for that. Write out your to-do list so that it’s ready for you in the morning and then prepare anything that you may need for your meetings. It’s also a good way to get psychologically prepared for what you have in store. If you feel that you need more preparation, then block off some time in your diary to do that.
By planning for the next day, you can set expectations and priorities.
10. Get some sleep!
This is somewhat a given, but it’s amazing how many people still don’t do it. If you want to be productive, you cannot do that after you’ve been up all night! You may feel as though you’re being productive because you’re working more hours, but you’re working less efficiently!
In an interview with CNBC, Ariana Huffington said that “a good day starts the night before.” This is against what the Hustle Culture says, which encourages entrepreneurs and business leaders to work through the night in order to get sh*t done.
But many experts now state that a good night’s sleep can really boost performance and leave you feeling much better overall.