Inefficiency is the biggest challenge we face on a daily basis. We value our free time, but squander it by not getting things done. Below are 5 tips you can start using today that will increase your productivity.
1. Do things immediately
This comes with a qualification. If a task comes across your desk that will take two minutes or less, do it right away. It will take more time to store it, task it, and complete it later than just knocking it out right away. Plus, it will take up subconscious brainpower as you try to remember to do the task at a later time.
2. Streamline recurring tasks
These are the tasks that you do every day, day after day. Sometimes we get so caught up in the act of doing these tasks that we stop thinking of ways to make them more efficient. Take a moment to do these three things:
- Identify your recurring tasks.
- Analyze each task and see if there are any unnecessary steps.
- Confer with and watch a co-worker/peer perform the same task and study how they do it. You will be astounded by what you can learn from watching somebody else do what you consider a repetitive and mundane chore.
Bonus resource: Ever heard of text expander? If not, Google it. Saves me over an hour EVERY day.
3. A to-do list
When you have a to-do list, every time the “What should I be doing now?” feeling appears, you can jump over to your list and be productive instead of fleeing to Facebook. Yes I said it… The Book. Also, having the achiever mentality we all have, crossing things off a to-do list is simply good for the soul!
Bonus resource: Workflowy. It’s free and incredible once you get the hang of it… which should take all of 2-3 minutes.
4. Get rid of distractions… PERIOD
Yes, we all love hearing that ding when we get an email, text, Twitter DM, or Facebook friend request, but seriously, all those little distractions add up to a HUGE amount of time lost during the course of your workday. Get rid of ALL notifications. Every single one. Then set up a time to check up on the required ones, say every three hours. Believe me, responding to every email within seconds only results in more work, and everyone likes to think we respect those who live in their inbox, but the reality is… we don’t.
Bonus resource: Self Control app. It will keep you away from the places/websites you tell it to for as long you tell it to. Hit start, and its out of your hands. Now you can get some old fashioned, distraction-free work done!
5. Set up a specific time block to complete a specific task
Have you ever heard of Parkinson’s law? “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Don’t let this law run your life. Use your cell phone (after you have turned off all its notifications) to set a timer for your task. Put it in a place you can see it ticking down (out of your peripheral, but with a glance). You will be amazed at how your mind reacts to this. Seriously… just try it once. You will focus like you have rarely focused before, because now it’s a competition. As humans, it’s in our genes to thrive on competition. Remember when our ancestors had to find water in a specific amount of time or perish? Well, you are here today because they won that battle against time. Now invoke that same competitive drive in yourself, and see what you are capable of!
Bonus resource: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen. This book will give everyone a method to set up systems that will greatly improve their efficiency in daily life. It is truly mind opening.
Fire Nation, I hope you found one, two, or all of these tips applicable to your daily life. Either way, send me success and or failure stories of your efforts to implement the above, and I will share your story on an upcoming weekend episode. Be sure to include your name and business so I can give you a shout out, heard by 100,000+ listeners who are downloading EntrepreneurOnFire.com every month.
Prepare to Ignite!