Productivity is a prized attribute among business professionals because time is money, money is time, and everyone wants to get more stuff done faster without compromising their work.
To become more productive and get the most out of a day, consider the best tricks of the most successful people. Managing your day is quite doable and within your control, if you put some new productivity habits into play. Consider these six hacks to transform yourself.
1. Prepare for tomorrow today.
Productive people get ready for the next day before they "leave" the office. In 10 minutes or less, think ahead to your most important priorities that will ensure a productive tomorrow. Finish the day by writing down the top three goals or projects you need to start, prep, or finish tomorrow. Knowing what you need to get done the next day sets you up for proactivity rather than reactivity.
2. Take a power nap.
When you've lost focus and your productivity mojo is in a slump, your creativity and alertness aren't as sharp. To get back to that state of flow, a 10-to-15-minute power nap will help you become much clearer and more focused. A longer nap may be required the more creative the task at hand. Consider a 90-minute snooze to refresh your noggin.
3. Say no.
According to research, learning to say no allows us to minimize our obligations and attain greater focus. Additionally, those with difficulty in saying no are more likely to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. The late Steve Jobs was a big proponent of this strategy. Jobs once dropped this timeless piece of wisdom about what true focus entails:
People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I have done.
4. Work in 90-minute sprints.
One productivity mistake so many of us make is working for hours at a time, sometimes right through the lunch hour, and neglecting taking frequent breaks. According to Harvard Business Review, the secret to productivity is to work the way track and field sprinters train: Focus single-mindedly on your most challenging and important task for 90 minutes at a time, then give your brain a rest and let it recharge. You'll work faster and stronger when you get back to your desk.
5. Reorganize your email routine.
Most people let their emails control them (and their time) instead of the other way around. To avoid the constant email interruption, restrict it to certain times during the day and schedule it. And when you do check it, prioritize which messages get read and replied to by setting alerts for your most important customers and contacts. Anyone else can wait.
6. Cut down on meetings.
Take a look at every meeting you have planned for the week. Could some of them be dealt with by email? Or a walk-and-talk? Take the advice of Elon Musk, who strongly values the power of prioritizing: "Get rid of frequent meetings, unless you are dealing with an extremely urgent matter," Musk suggested in an email he sent to all Tesla employees. Indeed, in one Harvard Business School survey two-thirds of business managers said that they believe meetings stand in the way of them completing their work. One no-nonsense solution is to hold a "meetings purge" twice a year. Cancel all regular meetings and only reinstall them as necessary. You may find it is possible, in the time that has passed, to combine or completely eliminate certain meeting functions.