7 ways to be instantly more productive
As entrepreneurs, we’re often made to feel we must work extremely hard to achieve our goals. Whilst there is obviously some truth to this, hard work and long hours are not always productive, especially if we do things because we feel we must.
Much research has been done into what makes us productive, so here are 7 ideas to help you raise your game and use your time better.
Remember that 20% effort gives 80% results
In the early part of the last century, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto came up with the 80/20 rule; derived from his observation that 80% of land was owned by 20% of the population. Since then, what is commonly known as the Pareto Principle has been applied to many things, including productivity. The rule suggests that 20% of your time produces 80% of your results, so it’s worth bearing this in mind when putting together your ‘To Do’ list.
Limit yourself to 3 main tasks a day
‘Procrastination is the thief of time’ so the famous saying goes, but it can also get in the way of doing business well. One of the reasons we procrastinate is that we become overwhelmed by the amount of tasks we need to do in any given day. Limiting yourself to 3 major tasks, in addition to the small easy-to-achieve ones, can make a big difference to productivity. You are more likely to see these tasks as positive and achievable, and more liable to complete them than if you feel swamped.
Use the Promodoro Technique
Science has shown that we are more mentally agile if we take frequent breaks and complete tasks in bite-sized chunks. The Promodoro Technique was developed with this in mind, and has proven to be a useful tool for improving productivity.
Cut out as much useless information as you can
We live in an information-rich world; much of it useful, most of it useless. With social media all the rage, we are bombarded with information that clutters our minds on a daily basis, and this can get in the way of productivity. Even reading the comments section on a controversial news article can make our blood boil and only serve as a distraction. Learn to avoid information overload during your working day, and become more productive by avoiding email or switching off your phone for a given period of time.
‘Fail to plan, plan to fail’ is a cliché that does the rounds in business circles, but it holds true. Having a clear schedule at the start of the day helps you achieve tasks more efficiently. Some people suggest that fixing the next days’ schedule before you go to bed is effective, because your brain subconsciously prepares you for it whilst you are asleep.
Stop working overtime
It is tempting to work beyond our regular 7 or 8-hour day, especially if we want to prove ourselves as committed and pro-active entrepreneurs. Yet too much work leads to burn out, at which point you are about as productive as if you choose to do nothing at all.
Avoid saying ‘yes’ too often
One of the ways to avoid number 6 is to learn how to say ‘no’ politely. Naturally, we want to go above and beyond for our clients so they will value what we do and come back for more. But sometimes you can overburden yourself with unpaid niceties and end up providing a service that is sub-par. Try to balance the extra mile with a nod to your well-being and productivity.
The more productive we are, the greater the chances of our success. Sometimes, it pays to remove yourself from the mindset of the masses and be a bit more creative with the way you spend your time. You are bound to see positive results in the long run, and the new habits you learn will stand you in good stead.