Increasing productivity doesn’t require huge changes. There are small, simple things you can incorporate into your regular routine to give it a bit of extra “oomph” and help the day run more like a Porsche than an outdated station wagon.
To kickstart positive progress, begin with a quick self-evaluation.
Do you often work later and longer than you want to? Is your attention always divided? Do you feel drained at the end of the day, with little or no progress to show for it? Are you and your team consistently scrambling when deadlines come due?
Getting a clear sense of the “potholes” in your routine can go a long way toward helping you find simple tools to patch up your stretch of road.
Not 100% sure where your productivity flies out the window? Start with these five easy tweaks.
1. Make a List of To-Do’s and Plan Tomorrow’s Agenda Before You Leave Work
Why make mornings harder than they have to be? Even as you grab your first cuppa joe you have emails to answer, people to greet, and a general settle-in period before getting into any actual work.
If you’ve already planned your to-do list and schedule for the day, you can get to work right after the morning hubbub. If unexpected meetings or challenges sneak up throughout the day, you can easily see how to fit them in.
2. Set a Time Limit for Each Task and Stick to It
Creating a personal time limit for each task sets you up for success in a way you may not even realize. It’s like a mini-challenge within a task—and you get to set the rules. Not only will you feel good about working toward your personal best, but reaching the goal helps keep your spirits and stamina up.
Be mindful to set times for breaks, too. Downtime keeps your motor running and gives you space to recharge, which increases personal productivity.
3. Use a Timer App that Makes You Get Up and Move, or Take a “Mind Break”
Physical movement combined with periods of calm throughout the day are good for the mind, body and soul—so build it into your day. Download apps or software that cue you to break up your day and improve your state of being.
A few good ones:
- Headspace – Helps you get into a more meditative state of mind
- Dejal – Enables you to set up a break schedule with prompts
- MonkeyMatt – Also prompts regular breaks, and works for Windows users
- Luminosity – Offers fun brain games to help retrain your brain and improve your focus
4. Clear the Digital Clutter Once a Quarter to Crank Up Efficiency
When was the last time you cleared off your computer desktop or tossed old digital files that haven’t been opened in months? Does your team have a plan in place to regularly clear and update shared folders, or do you just let digital files pile up?
We all spend so much time on the computer that it helps to “clear the canvas” on a regular basis to make productivity a seamless act. Once projects are done, archive or delete them. The same goes for emails and team-related correspondence.
5. Schedule Shared Collaboration Time with Your Team
The term “meeting hell” is a funny way to describe endless back-to-back meetings, but it’s also a very real challenge when you have multiple projects to support.
To cut down on wasted time and divided attention, plan a regular collaboration time for your team or teams. This gives everyone a designated time to connect that’s project-focused, allowing them to prep beforehand and share project-specific needs—both of which make productivity a natural bonus.
No matter what tools you use, it’s important to try them for a few weeks, then reflect on the progress. Is a specific tool actually increasing productivity or are things the same as always? Can you simplify some of the tweaks even further so they work better for you or your team?
The most important part of pumping up productivity starts with the willingness to try something different to shake things up. Are you willing?
How do you stay productive? Share your favorite tips, apps, and thoughts in the comments!