Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. Yet some people are able to make immense changes and accomplish huge goals in those hours. The rest of us seem to be struggling just to get enough time to sleep and eat healthily.
What’s the difference between the most productive people in the world and everyone else?
It’s not that they have more time than we do. They don’t have fewer responsibilities.
The difference is their ability to maximize the productivity of their time.
Productivity is the effective use of your time. How are you spending your hours? Are you pushing yourself forward in your personal and professional life? Or are you wasting away hours on meaningless tasks that don’t drive forward your success?
Productivity is the key to success and happiness. We are all given one vital resource in this world: time. How we use that resource determines our level of success and happiness.
So what can you do to be more productive?
- Don’t multitask.
People often think that multitasking means that they’re doing multiple things at once, so they’re getting more done. In reality, though, you may be wasting time and energy switching between tasks—even if it doesn’t feel like it. When you multitask, your brain uses up energy trying to move focus back and forth.
Moreover, multitasking makes the accomplishment of tasks take longer. Let’s say that you have three tasks, each that take 10 minutes to complete. If you do them all at the same time, you’ll complete those three tasks in 30 minutes. If you do them one task at a time, you’ll complete one task every 10 minutes.
Completing one task every 10 minutes is more motivating and satisfying than the longer time period. It pushes you to keep working because you have that sense of accomplishment every 10 minutes.
Put all of your energy into one task at a time. Do that task start-to-finish, take a quick break, and move on to the next task. This improves your focus and conserves energy that keeps you motivated and productive for longer throughout the day.
- Eliminate distractions.
“Distractions” are anything that eat up your time and take away from the task at hand. This can be your cell phone, social media, or even work-related emails and conversations. If you are working on one project but someone comes along to work on a second project, that’s a distraction (even though it’s related to your work).
Think through your day and pinpoint those distractions that eat away at your time and productivity the most. This can be a time-consuming task—like how you spend an hour on your phone every morning—or this can be a task that lowers your energy and puts you in a bad mood—like finding parking at school.
Now, try to find a way to remove that distraction.
Put your phone on “do not disturb,” so it won’t alert you of incoming messages unless they meet certain settings criteria (like phone calls from your family would always come through in case of an emergency).
If you find yourself quickly switching to social media on your computer, log out of your social media accounts (and don’t have your password saved automatically). Then, when you want to flip to social media for a “quick” distraction, you have to put in a little more effort to input your login info. This can help remind you and train you to stop automatically flipping to something other than what you need to do.
Distractions add up. Remove them to save your time and energy.
Oftentimes, these “distractions” can be tasks that need to be accomplished but are distracting you from the task at hand. If there’s a necessary task that drains your energy and time without adding anything productive, delegate it.
The most productive people in the world don’t do everything themselves. They delegate or outsource those tasks where they’re weakest or where their time could be best utilized elsewhere.
A good rule of thumb: if it’s not important to you and doesn’t make you passionate, outsource it.
This delegation can occur by managing your team appropriately or managing your time better. These little tasks need to get done, but they add up to significant time wasters.
- Create a response cadence.
There are some tasks you can’t delegate, but they’re still distractions from the current task at hand. You might get “urgent” emails every few minutes, and you could easily spend your entire day responding to emails.
Instead, pick specific times of day that you’ll answer these emails or text messages—both at work and at home. This makes sure that you respond to the emails without allowing them to take over and eat away at your productivity.
For example, you could check your email every other hour on the hour. This makes sure you respond in a timely manner (within two hours), but you also have two full hours to focus on your own productivity needs.
Plus, responding at a specific time will help you see exactly how much time you’re spending responding to emails. If you start checking emails at 1pm and finish at 1:45, you can understand that you’re “wasting” 45 minutes. This can help you figure out how to better streamline this process moving forward to cut down this distraction.
- Create a morning routine.
How you start your morning impacts the entire day before you.
We recommend starting your morning with something easy that you can accomplish. Checking something off your to-do list will make you feel satisfied and motivated at the beginning of your day.
Take care of your body and health, and your productivity will follow.
The Bottom Line
Pick one task to focus on. Remove all other distractions. Delegate when necessary. Respond when appropriate for your time management. Focus on building your productivity.
Maximize your day with the above productivity efforts and you’ll maximize your entire life.
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