Tips for Being More Productive (Part 1)

The modern world is a busy place. Reviewing memos, catching flights, attending meetings, reading endless e-mails – it adds up to a lot. We’re all looking for ways to make the workday more productive and to accomplish more of our goals in practical ways.

Today, I’d like to share some of my personal tips and advice for staying productive and keeping your edge in this busy environment.

1.) Keep Track of Your Time

Sometimes it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all of the tasks on your radar. Maybe you start out each day with focus and the intention to mark off everything on your to-do list, but at the end of the day, you still have many items left undone.

If this scenario seems familiar to you, you should consider keeping a daily timesheet to keep track of your time. Keeping track of how you spend your time allows you to get an assessment of your activity and identify patterns of behavior that aren’t as productive as they could be.

You can use a manual sheet or digital excel sheet and block off the hours of the day. Use intervals of 15 minutes to prevent things from becoming overly complicated. Track your time for a whole week to gather enough data, then review the week to identify how you spent your time. If you use a digital timesheet, you can place the information into graphs for easy comparison and additional details.

After a week or two, you will be surprised how much of your day is spent on activities that are relatively unimportant or could be delegated to free up more of your valuable attention. From here, you can make adjustments as needed to improve your performance.

2.) Set Goals, Big and Small

Sometimes we can feel that we are grinding away, but we don’t necessarily have a clear direction of where we’re going or what we would like to accomplish with our time. This is where setting goals becomes an important part of your life.

Whether in business or in life, every highly productive person takes the time to analyze where they are in a general sense, where they would like to be and what it would take to get there. Then, they formulate a plan to achieve specific actions that will move them closer to their end goal.

You too can take advantage of this approach by taking an inventory of where you are, and by setting goals on a small scope (week-by-week) to large (quarterly or yearly). This process will naturally keep you on track toward achieving your dreams.

3.) Avoid Multi-tasking

Multi-tasking is an ability that has become increasingly in demand in our hyper-connected, rapid-paced world. And while it is certainly a skill that can come in handy, it is far from perfect when it measures up to applied focus.

Multi-tasking is the act of performing multiple tasks at one time. This is useful in situations where you are performing low-level tasks that do not require a lot of brain power and just need to be checked off.

The bad news is that multi-tasking is widely ineffective when it comes to more complex tasks and can actually cause you to be less productive in the long-term. That’s because when someone is “multi-tasking,” they’re really just switching between tasks at a rapid rate – cutting down the level of detail and attention that they apply to any given task.

This is the opposite of productive. Instead of taking this approach, you should focus on one individual task at a time and complete them in order from most important to least. This will ensure that you are giving the fullest level of attention to your work and actually free up time as you knock them out one-by-one.

4.) Develop a Passion for Reading

It has been well-established that reading is an important habit to develop for long-term success. It is a fundamental characteristic of successful people in today’s world, from CEOs to philosophers. In fact, legendary investor Warren Buffett is famous for his advocacy of reading, recommending that everyone should read at least 500 pages per day.

Why is it so important to read?

Reading is one of the most powerful tools available to educate oneself and gain the direct insights and knowledge of others. It allows the reader to absorb a lifetime of information on any given subject over a period of hours. Books are a tremendous resource for anyone continuing their educational efforts and advancing their skillset and knowledge base, especially in the business world.

It has also been scientifically proven that reading improves memory and can train the brain for increased focus, making reading a great activity to keep the brain working optimally.

In addition to the immense educational value provided – reading is a fun activity and can be a crucial tool for anyone looking to be more productive.

Onward and Upward

So, there you have it – a handful of productivity tips that will hopefully take your days to the next level in terms of what you can accomplish. If you’re interested in learning even more ways to be productive, check out some of my additional tips, here.

Also, feel free to leave your own tips in the comments section below.

~ Scott Asner Kansas City, Missouri

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