Working smarter doesn't necessarily mean working longer hours. In fact, working hugely inflated hours could be completely counter productive. Many of us waste time during the working day without even realizing it. And by making small changes to cut the waste in your day and enhance your productivity, you could actually get more done in less time. Here are 4 relatively small productivity enhancing changes you can make to how you work right now.
1. Work Pomodoro
The Pomodoro Technique is one of my absolutely favorite ways to work. I've implemented it for 12 months now and find that it halves the time it takes me to carry out many tasks.
It's a simple technique. Set a timer for 25 minutes and focus on a task. Close down email, unnecessary browser windows, switch your phone off and just focus. After 25 minutes, allow yourself a 5 minute break. In that 5 minutes, I actually usually deal with emails, social updates and other distractions!
It's not great for office workers who tend to work within a team that talks a lot. But for me, I lock myself away solo for a few hours of each week to work this way and make headway through my week's work.
2. Axe Digital Distractions
Social media, emails, online shopping and videos are amongst the many distractions that cut productivity. If, like me, you struggle with simply ignoring distractions like that off your back, then sometimes a piece of software can help. Apps like freedom.co blocks certain apps and social media sites for a period of time, making it much easier to crack on with what you need to get done.
3. Ditch that To-Do List
To do lists don't work! There are many reasons why, but ultimately for me I find the main problems are twofold:
- I find it de-motivating seeing things added to the list at a faster rate than they're ticked off
- A simple list doesn't help to identify priorities and I am incredibly guilty, largely down to that, of just doing the "nicest" tasks first!
So switch the to do list for a task management app or simply for putting tasks into your calendar with an estimate of how long it might take.
4. Work During Your Most Productive Hours
This one isn't always feasible. Some people simply have to work set hours consistently. But if you do have any degree of flexibility you can use this to your advantage.
I find I work better first thing in the morning (6am onwards for a few hours) and then from around 7pm to 10pm. I'm at my least productive in the afternoon, I find.
So whenever I can adapt my working day to those hours, I get more done.
The most productive hours of the day vary from person to person. And if you're not yet familiar with yours, spend some time experimenting and tailor your day, as far as possible, to your own personal productivity fluctuations.
Spend Less Time in Front of a Screen
With small changes to how you work, you could cut the time you spend in front of the screen, get more done and make more time for the other important things in your life.