In a previous blog post we discussed some practical ways that people can manage time and hobbies that anyone could develop to improve productivity throughout their lives. Continuing in that same spirit, I would like to include a couple more ways that you may use to jumpstart your workweek and achieve even more success.
Some of these tips have helped turn Eighteen Capital Group from a Kansas City investment firm, into a nation-wide enterprise. Feel free to use them as you see fit!
1.) Get Out of Your Head
Sometimes the best thing we can do to remain productive is to take a break and come back with a new perspective. In our modern workplaces, it’s easy to get stuck sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time – incessantly clicking and typing away. And the more that we sit there, the more stressed and less efficient we become.
This is not how human beings were designed to live and work. It’s also not productive.
It’s advisable to break up hours of work with break periods, to keep you refreshed and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Some people even subscribe to the Pomodoro Technique – which is the act of timing out twenty-five minutes to focus purely on work, then switch to a less intense break period.
You do not have to follow this exact timetable, but it is important to mind how much time you’re sitting and staring at a computer screen. Every hour or so, stand up, stretch, maybe even go for a walk – just anything to break up the sitting.
This can be especially helpful when you feel stuck and need a new perspective on a problem you’re trying to tackle.
2.) Complete the Hardest Tasks First
It is often said that the most productive hours of the day are the ones before lunch. This does not mean that we should push our lunch break back to achieve all of our daily tasks. Instead, we should try to tackle our biggest challenges in the morning hours.
Even if you plan out your day and make a very detailed to-do list, you will inevitably be waylaid by unforeseen events or have to re-direct your time towards things that were not on the agenda. Knocking out the most difficult or most important tasks in the morning allows you to focus all of your energies into those tasks before the distractions start rolling in.
Once you’ve accomplished the heavy items for the day, you then have room to shift focus or take on the random things that pop-up in the afternoon. This strategy ensures that you stay on track as per your original plans, but even makes you more productive as you cross off additional items over the course of your week.
Another point to keep in mind is the post-lunch slump. Structuring your day to address the most important tasks of the day first will focus all of your momentum and energy into the things that matter before feeling tired.
3.) Periodic Brain Purge
No matter your role or industry, we can get overwhelmed with all of the different outstanding tasks and thoughts whizzing around in our heads. It may be difficult to sort out exactly what your priorities should be at any given moment. This is why it is extremely helpful to do a brain purge and regain a sense of control and direction.
The first step is to simply write down all of the thoughts floating through your mind, work-related and otherwise. Upcoming birthdays, upcoming bills, people you should call, things the kids need for school, things to pick up from the store – write it all down.
Just getting it all out of your head and down onto a single document can be a relief in of itself, but then it is time to group these items into categories and prioritize.
Separate each thought into categories according to their urgency and their importance. For example, it may be important to call your mother, but it is more urgent to close the loop on that presentation that is due next week. Responding to an HR survey may be urgent, but not as important as touching base with a client. Whatever your to-dos may be – categorize them in this way until each one is accounted for.
Now you have an immediate compass for tackling the outstanding tasks in your life, and you have a sense of which ones are most immediate and most critical to your success.
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Hopefully you’ve found these additional tips for improving productivity helpful and will be able to put them to use to get more out of your day.
It is now up to you to put them into practice. With the right mentality and know-how, there is no limit to what you can do.
~ Scott Asner Kansas City, Missouri
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