“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” - Bruce Lee
These are uncertain times. We don’t know when the economy will bounce back and there are unprecedented health concerns we are confronting as a nation. Most of us don’t have any control over government policy, Coronavirus statistics or imposed regulations.
But, one thing we do have control over is how we choose to respond to adversity. Becoming a more productive person is something we can all actively work on no matter the situation.
Here are three simple ways to boost your productivity and get more done no matter what is happening in the world.
One - Audit your Activity.
When the IRS audits your taxes, they look at every dollar on your returns. Money coming in, money going out...every penny is traced.
The same practice can be applied to your time. Take a notebook and for a couple of days take note of what you do on an hour-by-hour basis. Going to the bathroom? Checking your Twitter feed? Making a coffee run? Write it all down.
This may seem excruciatingly tedious but it’s extremely important to note everything. After a couple of days of tracking your time, you will spot patterns. You’ll see where you are wasting time, burning precious minutes and also spot bad habits that are impeding your goals.
Make it a point to start cutting out activity patterns that are unproductive. As an example, I noted that I had a habit of checking my Twitter feed every hour. I cut this out and felt more focused on my work right away.
Two - Prioritize and Balance.
There is a traditional practice well all know, but don’t seem to use enough...the TO DO LIST.
To do lists are one of the oldest and most effective productivity tools we have at our disposal. It’s almost too idiotically simple and obvious that we should be using To Do Lists that we often go weeks or months without ever writing one.
My advice is to write one every night. It really helps to have long term goals written down as well so there is some context to the action steps of the To Do List. If you look at your long term goals let’s say that you want to achieve over the next 10 years, then you can write a To Do List each not based on these goals to lay out the small steps you are going to take the next day to reach your goals.
As a rule of thumb, daily To Do Lists should contain between 5-10 personal AND business related tasks. Any longer, and the list will NEVER get done giving you a continuous loss. Finishing a To Do List daily can do wonders to boost morale and it’s important to incorporate personal tasks to maintain a work life balance.
Three - Not everything has to be digital.
In today’s day in age, paper has almost become a relic of the past. You can keep all your files, documents, notes, journals, calendars, etc stored digitally.
While digital storage provides a certain convenience and ease it also creates a problem. It can be hard to find things. According to a McKinsey report, employees were spending 1.8 hours a day (9.9 hours a week!) on average searching and gathering information they needed to work with. Look at this way, people are spending 20% of their time not working and looking for things.
So here is a tip. Start printing things. Use real paper and notebook in addition to whatever digital storage you may use. Buy an old fashion cork board, print important documents and hang them up. Get a couple of file folders and store important documents.
Having these things hung around or within physical reach as opposed to digital can drastically boost productivity. It allows you to visualize and observe multiple charts, plans, documents and notes at the same time as where your iPad might only display a single sheet of electronic paper. I’ve also found during quarantine that if I have key documents printed and hanging from my corkboard I can simply leave them there when I’m done working and the next morning I can look them over and immediately be oriented to the tasks at hand.
So there you go, three simple yet powerful methods to boost productivity no matter what is happening in the environment. These might seem like over simplified organizational steps, but used together and used daily they can bring about very powerful results.
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