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Last Updated on December 1, 2020

How to Get Things Done: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Get Things Done: A Step-by-Step Guide

There are always those days when 24 hours a day seem too little for you to finish all that you wanted to accomplish. The biggest question for a person with a lot of responsibilities on their shoulder is how to get things done before they are overdue.

Not being able to check off everything you had planned for the day can worsen your productivity due to the feeling of failure.

At the end of the day, there are only so many hours in a day. The only thing you can control is how you manage this time for maximum efficiency and minimal stress.

This 7 step guide along with some bonus tips will tell you exactly how to get things done without going through a mental breakdown once every day!

Step 1: An Effective To-Do List

Getting things done is impossible if you don’t know all the things that need to be done. What this means is that you need to have an organized plan of what the tasks are, when they’re due, what’s their order of priority, etc.

The best, easiest, and most effective method of organizing your work tasks is to make to-do lists. Yes, not one, but multiple to-do lists.

Generally, workplaces assign you tasks for the whole month or sometimes more. You know the goals that need to be accomplished over this period. So, what you should do is make a monthly to-do list with all these deadlines and tasks.

Next, break down the work per week. Which parts of which tasks will you tackle through the 4 weeks? Then, make it more detailed as you come down to your daily to-do list. In these lists, add the aspect of time as well.

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For example, if on the Thursday of the first week you have planned a meeting with the boss, mention how long you think it can take. This way you won’t over-schedule or under-schedule certain days.

One pro tip for making to-do lists is to add enough detail to have clarity of what you need to do. However, do not over-complicate them by adding too much information. A hefty to-do list can be intimidating and demotivating.[1]

Step 2: Get in the Mood to Work

You know how there are times when you’re so ready to work – during these times, you can literally get done with the hardest tasks without budging an eye. How does that happen?

Well, it’s all about your mind. If it’s ready to work, you’ll get the boost you need automatically. So, why not put in a small amount of time to prep your mind so that the rest of your workday goes on smoothly? Whatever has been bothering you or keeping you preoccupied, get rid of it.

Let’s say you’re super excited about your birthday that’s coming up in the next week. Do not let it distract you during work. For that, you can start the day with 5 to 10 minutes of meditation. It will also help you practice mindfulness for better focus.

You can also exercise, walk, or run to freshen up your body. Eat a filling breakfast so that you don’t lose your energy until lunchtime.

Another thing you can do to prepare your mind that it’s time to work  is to dress for it. Take a shower, wear comfortable but fresh clothes, spritz some perfume, do your hair, and put on some shoes. Your brain will automatically shift gears and encourage you to work, and this will help you to get things done.

Step 3: Set up Your Space

Your surroundings can work your productivity immensely. Have a well-set workspace. Well-set doesn’t mean it needs to be fancy, but you must have all essentials within reach.

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Things like your laptop, its charger, a snack, water, your to-do list, a pen, notebook, and other necessities should be within reach. Also, add the things that make you feel more comfortable, such as a candle, a table lamp, etc.

On the other hand, distractions should be cleared out. Keep your mobile phone silent or log out of your social media accounts.

Step 4: Get Done With the Hardest Tasks First

There’s this metaphor ‘eating the frog’ and a lot of experts have written books and articles about it. It is a concept to boost productivity which suggests getting done with the most challenging tasks first.[2]

You should implement the same strategy. Prioritize the tasks that need more work over the easier ones. Getting the hardest task out of your way early on in the day will give you a sense of relief.

Once the ‘big’ thing of the day is done, it is way easier to focus your energy on the easier and lesser important jobs. It also gives you a sense of accomplishment, which is the right energy booster you need to get things done.

Also, your energy and motivation are usually the highest at the beginning of the day. So that is the perfect time to push yourself.

Step 5: Delegate What You Can

If you’re familiar with the idea of delegation, you should put it to use. There’s a high chance that you can distribute your workload without compromising the output.

However, if you opt for delegation, make sure to delegate the right tasks only. Only then will you be able to manage more work in a shorter time. Otherwise, you’ll have to spend more time correcting others’ mistakes.

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Step 6: Get Done With the Short and Quick Tasks

This step is the second part of prioritizing your tasks. Once the most challenging job is out of the way, quickly move onto things that you can get done within the shortest time.

This strategy allows you to tick off more in lesser time.

So, for example, let’s say you have 10 tasks for the day and 5 of them are quick and easy things that you can get done within an hour or two. Once you’re done with these tasks, you’ll be left with half of the workload with plenty of time to get it done.

The brain will see it as a win and give you the motivation to push yourself to get done with the rest too.

Step 7: Turn Off Work When You’re Done for the Day

One major part of being able to do things is to keep yourself from getting exhausted. Do not over-burden yourself.

When you’re done for the day, switch off your work side. Even if you were able to manage the tasks of the day earlier than the finishing office time, give yourself that free time.

Relax whenever you can. Treat yourself when you deserve it. Turning off is very important to be able to restart the next day.

Bonus Tips

This was the step-by-step process of doing things. However, amid this process, there are a few other things to keep in mind too. These bonus tips will keep your work morale high throughout.

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Firstly, take care of yourself. There are quite a few things to consider here. You should be fresh, healthy, well-fed, well-slept, and your basics should be covered so that you can focus on your work with your full potential. Unless you’re healthy, you cannot produce useful outputs.[3]

Take enough breaks. Working non-stop is the biggest paradox because a person thinks they’ll get more done by forcing themselves to work every second through the office hours. But it actually drains your mind and body. Once again, you are unable to generate good work. So, give your mind and body a few minutes to refresh after every couple of hours.

Next, have room for flexibility in your to-do lists. An urgent task can always pop-up. Deadlines can be pushed forward for whatever reason. It is expected for things like this to happen. So, if you don’t have the option to reschedule your to-do list, your entire routine will mess up.

Lastly, don’t over-stress. Focus on the task at hand only. Things that are to follow should be thought about when you’re working on them. The task at hand is where your complete attention and time should be going. Being all over the place will only waste your time.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, let’s not forget that we’re all humans. No two humans are the same despite the similar psychic we all have. This step-by-step guide is a general example of how a smooth workday can be planned. However, a few tweaks here and there may help you improve this process even more for yourself.

Feel free to experiment with whatever you think will work best for you. With the general idea behind this step-by-step guide in mind, you can easily find a way to get things done as per your needs. As long as you keep the idea behind each step intact, you can go about it any way you prefer.

So, don’t waste any more time procrastinating or stressing out. Get all your tasks finished promptly by implementing this work strategy for maximum efficiency!

More Tips on Getting Things Done

Featured photo credit: Gabrielle Henderson via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

    More Productivity Tips

    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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