Picture this: Two people—let’s call them Billy and Betty—both work at the same marketing firm. They have the exact same job description and work load and they both sit at their desks and perform pretty much the same sets of tasks. But at the end of the each day, Betty always outperforms Billy. She makes more calls, closes more deals, and delivers better results.
Is Betty smarter than her co-worker? Not really. Is Billy given fewer hours each day? Nope. After all, one of the indisputable laws of the universe is that every person on Earth, regardless of the amount of money they have or where they are in the world, gets 24 hours in each day.
Betty gets more things done each day because she knows how to use her time well. She applies specific productivity techniques and time management strategies that let enable her to get things done quickly and easily.
How would you like to be the Betty of your workplace? Follow the tips below and you’ll be well on your way to becoming more productive and doing more in less time.
Jot down your goals
Develop the habit of writing down your goals and tasks. Write down your tasks every morning (or the night before) and let that to-do list guide you throughout the day.
Do the same thing at a larger scale. What do you plan to accomplish by the end of the month? Where do you want to be in 6 months or a year’s time? Think about the answers to those questions, cook up a plan on how to achieve them, and put that plan on paper.
Having your goals on paper and keeping them in front of you helps you stay focused on what you need to do. Your to-do list will give your day more structure. It will help keep you on track so you won’t deviate to doing unnecessary tasks or things that aren’t part of your plan.
Break things down
Got a big major task sitting in front of you? Don’t stare helplessly at it. Instead, bring out your (metaphorical) samurai sword and cut that assignment down into bite-sized pieces.
The key to not getting overwhelmed with the whirlwind of tasks sitting on your plate is to break them down into small, manageable tasks. Focus on one part at a time, and finish doing each part before moving on to the next one.
Think of it this way: If you’re planning a wedding, it wouldn’t be wise to select your officiant, choose a caterer, book your venue, and send out your invitations all in one day right? (Unless you want to go crazy.) Nope, you handle those tasks one by one by taking care of the most pressing ones first, like selecting a venue, before moving on to the next task.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’ll get more things done faster if you do them all at the same time. Doing so only leads to confusion and overwhelm so avoid multitasking when you can.
Instead, do only ONE thing at a time and stick to that task until you’re done with it.
Make a list of the routine tasks that you perform and see which ones you can automate. For instance, I use a service that automatically shares my latest blog post on Facebook and Twitter, so I don’t have to manually do so.
Get rid of all that clutter
Clutter is one of the top enemies of productivity. All those scattered post-its, paper scraps, and magazines on your desk are distracting you (both at a conscious and subconscious level) and keeping your from getting things done.
A tidy work environment is conducive to productivity. You’ll find that neatness and efficiency go hand-in-hand, so always be vigilant when it comes to cleaning up the clutter around you.
Do tasks in batches
I picked up this tip from Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Workweek, and I have to say, it works like a charm. Doing tasks in batches means grouping similar tasks together and performing them within the same time frame.
For example, when paying your bills, it’s better to round up all your invoices and pay them in one sitting, rather than choosing to pay your phone bill in the morning, your internet bill in the afternoon, and your credit card the next day.
Batching helps you accomplish tasks quickly and more efficiently because it saves your body the time and effort from having to switch gears from one task to the next.
Use tools if you need to
There are numerous productivity tools out there designed to help you save time and get more things done. Check out the productivity category of your app store and see which apps can help you be more efficient.
One of my personal favorites is RescueTime, a software that keeps track of your computer’s activity to help you determine how effective you are in managing your time. Then there’s Evernote, the app that lets me keep save and track my tasks and notes across multiple devices.
What do you do to stay productive? Do you use any special tools or apps? Share them in the comments below.