And they are not what you think!
Output, yield, productivity. We’re always looking for ways to be more efficient and productive. So we’ve compiled our favorite, but perhaps, unexpected tips. Remember that this is not a ‘one size fits all’ list, but hopefully a few of these will be a good reminder of some ways to get more done in what seems to be those ever shorter days!
Set time limits for certain activities like email or make a rule to only work in short sprints to prevent distraction. We try to employ the Pomodoro Technique. If you’re like me, then it’s easy enough to be distracted by an email, a client request or simply a new task that just sounds like more fun! If you set a timer for what you’re working on and plow through without distraction (shut down that email!), you’ll find those daunting tasks suddenly seem more attainable.
There are a heap of tech tools out there for productivity. Some of our favorites are Asana, LastPass or Unroll.me, BUT, also make sure those productivity tools work for you. Think of it as an ROI; you have to be sure the net time invested in learning and implementing these tools will give you a return either down the road in saved time or perhaps it’s in the quality/ease of work. That isn’t to say that the second it takes you longer than two minutes to learn a new app you should turn your back on it, only that it makes sense to remain aware of your time as you search and implement new tech solutions. It must work for you and your team.
Start with the one or two things that are continuously hijacking your day and make a goal to optimize your work around those things. So if it’s to-do lists and tasks, maybe you need a task manager or a list-maker. If it’s sifting through emails and managing email folders, maybe it’s creating time-blocks for email twice a day at 20-30 minute intervals.
“Productivity systems should create a sense of ‘lightness’ to your day.” — Katherine Keller
Forget what we’ve all been putting on our resumes since 2003. Multitasking is not all it’s cracked up to be. Multitasking = distraction. Stay present with the task at hand and you will inevitably finish it sooner. Be distracted by other items and each time you have to reconfigure your brain space for that new task. And then reconfigure it back again for the original task. That’s easily 10 minutes lost only to brain reconfiguration (this is a real thing, we promise). Try to knock off one task each day before even opening your email. That way you’re not getting distracted by anything in your inbox.
If you are a startup and you’re scaling quickly, chances are you’ll find yourself quickly overwhelmed: budgets, staffing, marketing, who has the time? That’s when to delegate or outsource. Find assistants or employees for appropriate tasks. Do you really need to be sourcing content for social media? Or scheduling your meetings yourself? Can someone else screen applicants’ resumes for your postings? Check out Upwork for all kinds of virtual freelancers offering services for a fraction of the value of your time. Better yet, outsource your accounting; we know this great company, ORBA … (sorry, couldn’t help it!)
Okay, this one was harder to capture the essence in one word. But seriously, get comfortable with the word “no.” As soon as you work that into your vocabulary, you will see snippets of time reappearing in your day. It’s okay to say no or at least to prioritize and then come back to something you initially said no to. That saves you from stretching yourself thin and will undoubtedly equal increased productivity!
This tip is maybe more obvious, but people struggle with it every night. We recently had a lunch & learn with our team about stress management and one of the dominating topics was sleep. If you’re a chronic insomniac due to the never-ending list running through your head, try writing it out before hitting the sack and then do one relaxing thing to get yourself ready for sleep. Another point made during our lunch was how our brain builds relationships.
So if you can’t seem to turn your brain off, then don’t lie in bed and keep thinking about it. Get up and move while making the list or relocate to your couch. You don’t want your brain to associate your bed with stress. Sleep is one of the single most important things for people to operate at their best.