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Wow! 27 Ways to Boost your Productivity in 7 Minutes a Day

Wow! 27 Ways to Boost your Productivity in 7 Minutes a Day

Micro-actions are a powerful productivity tip. A micro-action is a tiny step. It is an action you can accomplish from start to finish in seven minutes or less. For example, in seven minutes you can:

Lifehack Productive Dog
    Red Dog leaping into the day!
    • Leap out of bed with excitement, like this red dog.
    • Make a phone call to your best client to invite him or her to lunch
    • Set a reminder on your phone so you won’t be late for the staff meeting
    • Write a thank you note
    • Clean out one drawer at your office
    • Throw away binders from workshops you attended five years ago
    • Call to follow up with a prospective customer
    • Choose a book on productivity you would like to read
    • Reserve a conference room for your team meeting next week
    • Handwrite your thoughts for three objectives you have for the team meeting
    • Walk around the block. Walk up a few flights of stairs. Stretch.
    • Drink a cup of water or laugh out loud (it has been proven–happier people are more productive)

    If you choose to take tiny steps forward every day, these tiny micro-actions can compound and boost your daily productivity exponentially. Understanding the power of micro-actions and consciously choosing which you will use and which you will delete from your life are the keys to improving your personal time management and your productivity.

    Think of it this way: every action you take during the day is actually a micro-action. From crawling out of bed, to brushing your teeth, to getting dressed for work. Every single action is a micro-action!

    Micro-actions are incredibly powerful because they are so easy to do. They can help you become “unstuck”. When you begin working on a new project ask yourself, “What micro-action could I take right now that will help me finish this task/activity/project/goal?”

    The objective of this article is to help you understand how much time is lost in the gaps of life. There is a lot of hurry up and wait. But if you have five places in your work day where you are stuck in a short gap–you can accomplish five micro-actions. There are many small, unfinished tasks you never seem to have time to complete.

    The list below is categorized so you can make use of the gaps in your schedule and boost your productivity starting today!

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      The Night Before Work

      1. Keys. Always put your keys in the same place.

      2. Closet Organization. Terri Fulton, Certified Professional Organizer®, encourages her female clients to place all of their clothes in the closet based on color and sleeve length. If a woman has five different black tops, it takes very little effort to look at the section of the closet with all of the black tops and move from short sleeves to long sleeves to find the appropriate shirt without wasting time.

      3. Clothes. Decide what you will wear the night before. Place everything you plan to wear in one location. This includes socks, shoes, ties, jewelry and any other accessories you will need. (How much time have you spent looking for the right shirt when you have a meeting that begins in less than an hour?)

      Getting Ready in the Morning

      4. Water. One of the most important habits to dramatically improve your productivity is to drink more water. You already know you should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. This is a simple productivity hack. Drink eight ounces of water when take your vitamins, or when you first wake up.

      5. Walk. Beth Ingram, a retired Sr VP from the Arkansas Hospital Association shared one of the best getting ready practices I have ever heard. When she was working, each morning she would walk on her treadmill for 10 minutes and then get ready for the day. If her goal was to walk briskly for 30 minutes a day, she knew this 10-minute discipline would help keep her on track.

      6. Review. Before leaving the house take a quick look at your calendar and to-do list. How many times have you made it halfway to the office and realized you left something important at home?

      Arriving at the Office

      7. Leave for the office seven minutes early. My brother taught me that arriving on time means you are arriving late. Leaving a few minutes ahead of schedule each day can easily reduce the amount of stress you might feel if you are caught by one too many stoplights.

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      8. Arrive on time. Consider the impact of arriving on time and ready to work at 8:00 every morning, rather than dashing into your office at 8:15 and still having to grab a cup of coffee, pull your mail out, say hello to a couple of people. By the time you sit down, it’s already 8:30. Assuming you work 20 days a month, you are wasting at least 10 hours of productive work time each month, or 560 hours per year.

      During the Work Day

      9. The 10 Minute Tidy. John Arnold, Chief Inspiration Officer of The 7 Minute Life, shares what he calls “The 10 Minute Tidy” concept. Take 10 minutes each morning to “tidy” up your desk and 10 minutes each afternoon to “tidy” up your desk again.

      10. Office Supplies. Have all your office supplies easily accessible. While I am not a personal organizer, I have many friends who are and one of the most intuitive but often overlooked productivity needs is to have all of your regularly used office supplies easily accessible. As an example, I moved my work desk into a new space about six months ago, and for six months I was digging through my desk drawers looking for Sharpies, my ruler, sticky notes, scissors, adhesive tape. By my own estimate I wasted at least 10 to 15 minutes a day looking for these items in various places.

      11. Everything should have a place. Every single work item or supply that you use regularly should have a single location specifically for that supply. Scissors should have a home and paper clips should always be in the same place.

      12. Prioritize each task. Once you know the outcome of a project, create a list of action steps that will allow you to complete the task. Then prioritize each of the steps in an order that works in the most efficient way with the least waste of time and effort.

      13. Capture all of your notes and to-do lists in one place.  As you begin to improve your organizational and productivity skills you will want to choose to have a single place to capture all of your goals, notes, action steps and to-do lists.  You may choose to use some sort of daily planner or even a spiral notebook. For the tech-savvy, there are many apps available for your smartphone to help with this.

      14. Start and finish one task at a time. Many people start a project or task and move it to 98% of completion, only to stop short of finishing the last 2%.  Make it a point to start and completely finish one task at a time.

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      15. Create repeatable processes and systems. Take the time to stop and think about the routines you and your team do over and over every day. Choose to create processes and systems to streamline those activities.

      16. Use checklists. As you create your processes and systems, create checklists to use each time.  A checklist provides consistency and serves as a protocol for you and for your team. It also provides the opportunity to cross off what has been accomplished and it will clearly show what is left to do.

      17. Staff meetings. Arrive seven minutes early to your next staff meeting and use that time to make a list of people you would like to write a thank you note to.

      18. Just say no. Don’t be afraid to politely say no. Productivity is often a “yes” or “no” decision. If you are asked to participate in an activity that doesn’t line up with what you are trying to accomplish, politely say “No, thank you.”

      19. Get rid of the distractions. True productivity occurs when you are able to totally focus all of your mental and physical energy on one task at a time. To improve your productivity, you may need to get rid of the distractions in your day.  

      20. Stretch. The human brain can only take so much. Make sure you take time during the day to stretch, walk and stay hydrated.

      21. Use a timer. A timer can help you improve and monitor your current productivity skills. Set the timer for 30 minutes and focus on completing one task at a time. Work until the timer goes off, and you will be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you are not looking at your watch every five minutes.  

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      22. Work with concrete deadlines. Aren’t you amazed at how much work you can get done the day before you leave for vacation? Knowing that you have a concrete deadline can have a positive influence on the volume of work you accomplish. 

      The End of Your Work Day

      23. Clean out your car. It is surprising how much trash and clutter can accumulate in your car. Take a few minutes every day to clean the trash out of your car.

      24. Create a written daily plan of action. Take seven minutes to think about what you would like to accomplish the next day, and create a written daily plan of action. Having a written daily plan of action ranks as one of the most powerful time management and productivity tools person can implement.

      25. Relax. Even seven minutes of truly relaxing without noise or interruption will make you more productive.

      26. Be happy. There are so many articles that talk about the power of happiness and laughter. Happy people are simply more productive.

      27. Go to bed. It takes less than seven minutes to decide when you will go to bed and when you will choose to wake up. Get a good night’s sleep for a vast improvement on your productivity.

       

      Featured photo credit: The Absurdity of Time [Explored] / jDevaun via flickr.com

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      Published on January 16, 2019

      How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

      How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

      We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

      You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

      You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

      That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

      Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

      1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

      Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

      We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

      To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

      At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

      The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

      2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

      Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

      The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

      In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

      It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

      It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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      So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

      • Are you a great strategist?
      • Are you an effective planner?
      • Is Project Management your strength?
      • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
      • Are you the ideas person?
      • Is Implementation your strength?

      Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

      3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

      One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

      Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

      Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

      Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

      4. Take Time for Planning

      “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

      One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

      You can take the time to think about:

      • What’s the purpose of the project?
      • How Important is it?
      • When does it need to be delivered by?
      • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
      • What are the KPIs?
      • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
      • Who is working on this project?
      • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
      • What tolerances can I add in?
      • What are the review stages?
      • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

      Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

      5. Focus on Priorities

      Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

      Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

      One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

      1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
      2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
      3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
      4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

      James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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        The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

        If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

        If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

        6. Take Time Out

        To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

        If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

        Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

        In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

        Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

        7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

        Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

        I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

        Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

        If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

        8. Stop Multitasking

        Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

        So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

        When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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        If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

        9. Work in Blocks of Time

        To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

        I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

        Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

        Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

        Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

        Then take another 10-minute break.

        Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

        By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

        10. Get Rid of Distractions

        Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

        “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

        Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

        If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

        11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

        You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

        Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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        Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

        12. Take a Time Audit

        Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

        Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

        You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

        Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

        Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

        At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

        If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

        13. Protect Your Confidence

        It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

        When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

        Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

        When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

        Final Words

        A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

        The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

        If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

        Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

        Reference

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