We all have important things to get done at work, but far too often, at the end of the day we realize that we haven't accomplished what we set out to do. The problem is that for all sorts of different reasons we end up doing things that don't help us meet our goals.
The solution is to focus on the most important things, and then to stay on task. That, of course, is much easier said than done. Here are 11 productivity tricks that will help you stay on task--and accomplish those goals that will move you forward at work and in your career.
1. Edit down your to-do list
If you've got a to-do list with 15 or 20 items on it, chances are you're going to feel overwhelmed and not get much of any of it done. Edit down your list to the three or four most important things you need to do, then focus on just those items until you've completed them.
2. Redesign your list
Get away from the usual upper-left-corner, linear list of to-dos. Instead write each task on a sticky note or page flag. Then place your most pressing task in the center of a piece of paper, surrounded by a circle of other tasks you need to complete.
3. Give yourself less time
You've created your list for the day and now you're sitting there thinking about anything but getting started. Challenge yourself. Give yourself only until noon to accomplish everything on your list.
4. Get rid of the dead weight
If your company is making a line of products, get rid of those that aren't working or aren't your biggest sellers. Focus your attention on those products that do work and do sell. The same principal extends to your life--quit saying "yes" to everything. Save that yes for things that will actually enhance your life or career.
5. Entrust others
Stop trying to do it all yourself. Delegate tasks to others and make them responsible for their completion so you can focus on the work that is most important to you.
6. Trust yourself
We are humans, not machines. If you are feeling unproductive, switch gears and go for a walk or change your setting. Trust that your productivity will return to full-throttle once you give yourself a little time.
7. Borrow some productivity boosters of the famous
Productivity can go through the roof with some subtle changes or different habits. Try one of these quirky ideas from some of the greats: Maya Angelou was more productive working in a nondescript room than in a beautiful setting; Ernest Hemingway was most productive in a standing position; and Woody Allen has found his productivity through multiple showers a day.
8. Keep experiencing and learning
The more experiences you have and the more you learn, the greater your judgment and creativity when coming up with solutions to a problem. Keep learning, and you will have more knowledge to pull from.
9. Get the ball rolling--one minute at a time
If you are producing nothing because you're having trouble focusing (happens to the best of us), set a timer for five minutes. Focus on one task for those five minutes, and you may be surprised when that five minutes turns into an hour or more of productivity. Sometimes you just need to get the ball rolling.
10. Warm things up
Cornell University found that employees made 44 percent more errors and their productivity declined by more than half when the temperature in their office was decreased to 68 degrees. Crank up the heater for more productivity, so you are putting your energy toward being productive and not staying warm.
11. Stop the interruptions
You can turn your productivity way up by getting away from all distractions. When you've absolutely got to focus on a task to get it done, close your email, ban your social media, turn off those beeps and pings on your smartphone that tell you you've got another message, and get productive. Turning off the interruptions for just an hour can give you a tremendous productivity boost.