Being more productive isn’t always about doing more. Weeding out unproductive activities can immediately buy you more time and greater productivity. Also, the results you get from the time you put in can be greatly increased by eliminating certain excesses that rob you from peak performance. Here are 6 simple shifts that can immediately reward you with greater results, whether you’re an executive running an office or a parent running a household.
1. Check email less often. I have set times for checking email, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Why 11? I don’t want my 5 before 11 list derailed by ANYTHING if I can help it. If you must check your mail prior to completing 5 high value tasks before 11 a.m., then only do what you absolutely must. Why 3? This gives me enough time to reply to something before the business day is over, but the end of the day caps my time.
I used to have email alerts on and would reflexively respond to them. I was clueless to how damaging a distraction this was until I stopped. Shut those alerts off and choose your scheduled times now.
2. Multi-task less. Multi-tasking scatters attention. Scattered attention produces poorer results. PERIOD. If you are crafting a document while talking on the phone odds are you are giving neither task your best effort. You are also more likely to make errors. And…If you don’t have time to do it right now, when will you have time to correct it later?
Single task or batch process instead of multi-task. Single tasking is particularly best for any creative process, i.e. writing a letter, creating a report, having a conversation, etc. Batch processing is setting aside time to take care of similar tasks in one session. For example, making all of your phone calls or writing a stack of thank you’s in one extended session.
3. Spend less time browsing media. Do NOT channel surf or aimlessly browse online. When you go online, go with a purpose and once that purpose is done, GET OUT of there. Social media is a particularly huge drain on productivity. If you are going to go on Facebook or Twitter to see what’s happening, set a timer and stop once the timer goes off.
4. Rest. A fatigued mind and body will result in poor productivity. Both the quantity and quality of your work are directly dependent upon how well rested you are. Be sure to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
If you struggle with sleep, you may need exercise. Early morning exercise in particular will both heighten your physical and mental energy at the front end of the day and insure that you are tired at the end of the day. I recently instituted doing a 30 minute walk every morning and this one action has significantly increased my energy and helped me develop the healthiest sleeping pattern I have ever had.
If you are suffering from actually insomnia, see your physician. Sound sleep is an imperative. Consider it non-negotiable and one of your highest priorities.
5. Eat less. Over-indulging at lunch can cause you a huge energy slump mid-afternoon. Particularly, if you eat a ton of carbs. Smaller, more frequent meals levelize your blood sugar and stimulate your metabolism to keep your energy on a much more even keel. Keep a stash of protein bars and healthy snacks in a drawer at work.
6. Talk less. How long are your phone calls and talk around the office coffee pot? Are you mindful of how much you talk? Limiting your speech has a two-fold impact on your productivity. The first obvious benefit is just not wasting time on unnecessary chatter.
Second, ironically, you can increase your influence by talking less. People love a good listener. Your influence will sometimes be greater because a person feels heard, rather than because of the persuasive value of what you have said. The old adage, “People don’t care what you know, until they know you care” rests solidly upon a foundation of good listening.
What other ways can you think of to increase productivity by doing less? Please share in a comment.