I read, talk and write about productivity. A lot. One of the things I try to impress upon people is that productivity is not about doing more. It’s about doing the right things at the right time.
Have you ever had a day when you were so busy that you didn’t break for lunch and you’re not sure you even stopped to go to the bathroom? Do you remember saying, at the end of the day “What a great day that was! I accomplished everything I needed to.” Or did you go home, exhausted, wondering how you were so busy without being able to move any of your goals forward?
Here are some techniques to improve your productivity:
1. Turn off the alerts on any device that will distract you. Phone, email, calendar, social networking or texting interference keeps you from getting work done.
2. Reduce the number of decisions you have to make. Whether it’s what you wear, what you eat or how you perform a task, decreasing your choices frees your brain for more important tasks.
3. Reduce the clutter in your workspace. Looking at piles of pending work sucks up your energy. In addition, you’re not being productive if it takes more time to look for a document than to read it.
4. Learn to say “No” to tasks that don’t advance your objectives. Don’t volunteer for committees or take on extra work when you have more than you can handle. Sure, you want to be a team player, and there will be other opportunities to pitch in when you’re not swamped.
Notice that “Fill every minute with activity” is not on this list. When you break away from your work for short periods, chances are good that you will come back with new ideas or more energy.
What is your favorite productivity tip?