Behind on your goals for the year?
Fall is about to arrive, and many of us will be left wondering how time flew by. The good news is that there are still a few months left in the year to catch up with our targets.
In this article, we share a few powerful productivity tips, inspired by advice from some of the biggest experts in the space.
Here are 10 things you should do to fall back into productivity:
- Arrive on Time
Does it matter if you are just a couple of minutes late for work?
Two minutes can seem inconsequential, but many people don’t realize the implications of being late can have on their day, let alone the bad impression it leaves on your team.
If you are habitually arriving late, it means that you are rushing through the first few hours after you wake up. Perhaps you are skipping breakfast. Not to mention feeling stressed all the way to work, wondering if you will get there on time.
Moreover, if you have a habit of being tardy, you will end up being late for meetings too. Michael Sliwinski, CEO of Nozbe, explains that making people wait broadcasts a message that their time is not as valuable as yours (even if you had zero intent of indicating that.)
Therefore, always try to arrive 15 minutes early so that you start your meetings on the right note, rather than with an apology.
- Have a Morning Ritual
Arriving on time sounds great in theory, but how do you actually manage it?
By getting a few quick wins right after you wake up.
There’s nothing more motivating than starting your day on the right foot. The most effective way to do that is by having a productive morning routine.
In this Lifehacker post, Amir Salihefendic, CEO of ToDoist, shares how he starts his day with a 7-minute workout, a 10-minute meditation session, and a cold shower followed by a healthy breakfast.
Each of these four activities has immense benefits. And when you do them together, you start your day by checking off four productive habits right after waking up. That gives you the confidence and momentum to excel at whatever you do during the rest of your day.
- Plan Your Day
The beginning of the work day is the perfect time to assess priorities and determine what you need to get done. Who you need to call, follow up with and reach out to, as well as any solo tasks. So, start the day by mapping all your to-dos in your task management tool.
You should also avoid getting distracted with unimportant activities first thing in the morning. That’s why you should assign priorities to each of your tasks. Low priority tasks should only be tackled once the most important tasks are checked off. Dive straight into the action items that matter most and watch the stress and worries melt away as you cross one more thing off your to-do-list.
If you can go a step further, try to plan out your entire week in advance. Looking at upcoming meetings is a great way to determine what tasks need to be wrapped up first. Productivity expert Craig Jarrow of Time Management Ninja also points out that preparing your calendar for the week will also allow you to block out time for yourself to tackle important tasks.
- Know Your Whys
It’s far easier to feel more motivated about doing a task when you know the ‘why’ behind it. Besides, understanding ‘whys’ gives you a clear idea of task dependencies within a team, which improves the overall productivity of everyone involved.
Try to understand how a task adds value to your own goals, as well as the goals of your team, department and company. Check out these tips from Than Pham, Founder of Asian Efficiency, about how to create strong ‘whys’ for your goals.
- Organize Your Phone Calls
Most of us have our own systems for going through our inboxes. However, few of us are organized when it comes to managing and processing our phone calls. That’s a big drawback because phone communication is usually far more critical than emails and if you ignore them, you could miss something vital.
The iovox app is like an inbox for your phone calls and allows you to efficiently manage all your phone communication.
This free app allows you to flag calls that are important and set reminders to ensure you never forget to follow up.
Iovox’s unlimited call history means that you will never lose call details again.
You can also add tags and notes to each phone call, share those notes with your team and assign tasks to them directly through the app. The app allows you to have in-app discussions to resolve queries and you also get a notification when someone completes a task.
- Clear Your Mind
Everyone is busy. That’s one thing we can all relate to. And there are days when we are overwhelmed with our seemingly endless to-do lists. Being stressed just makes matters worse. Tasks that should take 15 minutes take 30. We make far more mistakes and end up making bad decisions.
This is why it’s important to make time during your day to clear your mind. Slow things down a bit, take a moment to pause, breath and reflect. Clearing your mind has a surprisingly positive impact on productivity.
One of the most effective ways to clear your mind is to do a quick 2-minute meditation at your desk every few hours. Just taking a few deep breaths can dramatically lower your stress levels and improve your focus.
Mike Vardy, Founder of Productivityist, also recommends that you take a bit of time to reflect every day by journaling. Reflection can help you examine what you accomplished, what didn’t work out and what progress you are making towards your goals. It also helps you view your professional goals from the standpoint of your personal life.
- Be Present
A little human connection goes a long way in a world where everyone is hiding behind screens and keyboards. Something that’s diminishing because people prefer to send a message over Slack, rather than walk over to someone’s desk.
However, that’s hardly the way to build a more productive team. If you’re in a leadership role, it’s even more important to be present, both mentally and physically, as well as communicate effectively with those around you. Take the time to connect with your team in person and see how they are doing.
Re-engaging with people who are too used to talking through devices can be challenging. To overcome these obstacles, go back to the foundations of having meaningful dialogue. Check out these tips about productive dialogue from Alison Davis, Founder and CEO, Davis & Company.
- Take Lots of Breaks
The longer you work, the more you accomplish, right?
Nope. The human body isn’t a machine. And you can’t work for too long at a stretch and maintain high levels of focus and efficiency.
Taking time to breathe is good but remember to take breaks too. In his new book, "When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing," Daniel Pink says that short breaks can help regain focus and revitalize our commitment to our goals.
Take a short 10-minute break every 90 minutes to refresh your mind. When you return, you will be far more efficient.
- Stop Multi-tasking
You can’t do ten things at once.
No one can. Numerous studies have demonstrated that multi-tasking kills productivity. You take far longer to finish something and it’s rarely error-free.
If you keep switching between tasks, you’ll never reach the necessary levels of concentration to finish off one task well. Instead, get things done more efficiently by focusing on just one task at a time.
Productivity expert Neen James points out that continual distractions from social media, emails, device notifications, ad-hoc requests, etc. create an environment where it’s practically impossible to focus on one task at a time. One of the most effective solutions is to block off periods of time in your day where you switch off your devices, isolate yourself in a meeting room and just work on one important task.
If you just do this for an hour a day, you will accomplish more than in the rest of the day combined.
- Create a System
Take all these productivity tips and build them into a system that works for you. This system will help you stay organized, minimize distractions and keep you on track to becoming your best and most productive self.
A great way to implement a productivity system is to use the Mastery Journal, created by John Lee Dumas, Founder of the award-winning EOFire podcast. The Mastery Journal helps you create a productivity system, execute it every day and evaluate yourself periodically to make sure you are on track to achieve your goals.
We hope you’ve had a restful summer, but at any time of the year, if you have been stuck in a routine that doesn’t include these ten things, it’s never too late to fall back into productivity and start today.