The key to achieving powerful productivity is to work smarter, not harder.
While these 7 productivity tips may not shave your work week down to a mere 4 hours (a la Tim Ferriss), they will help you significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to complete everyday tasks.
1. Prioritize your goals
You probably have a monster to-do list, but let’s be honest – you’re not going to get it all done today. You might not even finish it this week.
Choose one or two items that you’d like to finish today, and forget about the rest of the list. By focusing on just a few key items, you’re more likely to finish them fast without getting overwhelmed. You can then move on to the next important item on your list, but only if you have time.
2. Stop answering emails
Are you email communications like a series of thank you cards that never end?
“Got the report, will get edits to you ASAP.”
Those last two responses, while polite, are wasted time. Send five or 10 emails like that each day and you’ve already wasted 30 minutes of your day.
If you’re a notorious “thanker,” send a single email to your colleagues letting them know that from now on, you’ll only respond if absolutely necessary, and that if they don’t hear from you, they can assume their message went through and everything is good on your end.
3. Turn off sound notifications
Ding! Facebook notification.
Ring! New email messages.
Chirp! Someone favorited your tweet.
It’s difficult enough to concentrate on work under the best of circumstances, but it’s practically impossible when you’re constantly distracted by interruptions.
Turn your phone on silent, and turn the sound off on your computer. Set aside specific times to check email, check social accounts, and make phone calls. If it’s not your set “Facebook time,” then hands off and no checking allowed!
4. Take frequent breaks
Taking a break every two hours is good for your brain and increases productivity. Go for a walk, grab a snack, or make a personal call. Stepping away from your work will give your brain a chance to hit the refresh button, and you’ll come back rejuvenated with new ideas.
5. Stick to a pre-set end time
Choose a set time to end your work day and stick to it. This time may fluctuate from week to week, and even day to day, but whatever time you choose, commit to it and see it through.
If you don’t, you’re sure to spend hours working late each day, because there will always be just “one more thing” you’ll want to get done.
6. Set aside daily “scanning time”
If you let receipts and papers build up over weeks and months, you’ll be faced with some serious scanning time and an outdated Shoeboxed account. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to scan any receipts that have accumulated. This will also save you tons of time (and money) during tax season.
7. Get less done
Remember that when you die, your inbox won’t be empty! Do you really need to get as much done as you think you do? Where is this pressure to get more done coming from – your boss, your colleagues, or yourself?
When you ask the overachiever in you to step aside, you cultivate a work-life balance that will only improve your overall productivity when running your business.
What would you do with an extra 5 hours of free time each week? What are your favorite productivity tips?