April 12, 2021

Whether you are an entrepreneur hustling to raise capital or a self-taught freelance designer, we all have 24 hours in a day. While some people can be ultra-productive and accomplish a tremendous amount in a day, most struggle with the number of tasks, deadlines and appointments. So how do we get more done in less time?

Learn how to manage and sequence the events in your day to give you maximum productivity at work. This allows you to narrow your focus and conquer your to-do list, so you can achieve more. Here are six simple productivity tips to help you get cracking.

Discover your own productivity style

Everyone has a unique productivity style that varies from each individual. Some people are more productive in the morning, while others get in the zone at night. Figure out when you are the most effective, then schedule your top priorities during that period. At the end of the day, it’s about finding what works for you. Getting a night owl to commit to a morning routine is completely counterproductive. Evan Williams, the entrepreneur behind Blogger and Twitter, used to exercise in the mornings, but eventually switched up his schedule. He found that it was better to exercise during the late afternoon since his focus was at its peak in the morning. “Going to the gym first is a trade-off of very productive time,” he concluded.

Categorise your tasks

Consider grouping your daily tasks according to their type or the level of energy they require. This method of organising your tasks is also called “theming,”, which categorises a group of tasks based on the type of activity (emailing or brainstorming) and by the energy level that you currently have (low, medium or high). In short, it’s not just about the task but how much energy it takes to execute it. You can plan themes based on the days of the week. When you assign a type of task to specific days of the week, it can help you save time since you don’t have to figure out “what you are going to do next”.

Twitter and Square co-founder Jack Dorsey uses this trick to stay productive. Each day is dedicated to a particular “theme” or area of the business. This has enabled him to see both companies in a broader light without being caught up with distractions. “I like having a lot of repetition in my schedule,” he said.

Eliminate distractions

One of the best ways to raise your productivity is to minimise distractions. We become less efficient when our mind drifts away or when we get sidetracked. Practise staying in the present and put away anything unrelated to your task. For starters, your mobile phone until you are done. 

If your attention tends to waver easily, use the Pomodoro Technique to provide maximum focus. Use a timer to break down work into 25-minute intervals, separated by short breaks. Set better boundaries for yourself and learn how to say no to activities (and people) that consume your precious time.

Stop procrastinating

Consider getting up earlier each morning to think about what your three Most Important Activities for the day are. Choose projects that will deliver the most impactful results since the adrenaline rush from working on these higher-level pursuits will push you to work even harder. Ditch the idea of perfectionism and jump straight into action to make your goals a reality. The longer we procrastinate, the more we get stuck in inertia. Completing your three Most Important Activities will boost your confidence and productivity. According to ThriveHive CTO Max Faingezicht, learning to prioritise was the most impactful thing he did to reclaim his (and his team’s) time. “You’ll see productivity, morale and work-life balance improve,” he said.

Use a schedule

Just mentally planning to get things done (and hoping they will) is a losing battle. What you should be doing is penning it into your calendar. Make an appointment with yourself, and honour it the way you would with your notable clients. By reframing your thoughts, this signals to our brain that these tasks are mandatory, rather than optional, which gives them prominence.

Be precise about your time

There is a visible difference between simply crossing things off a to-do list and effectively working on the most essential tasks. Be precise about how long a task will take, so you can decide if you are able to shrink that time without sacrificing quality. SkyBell Co-Founder Andrew Thomas found that a set of tasks usually occupied the entire amount of time that he allocated for them. He decided to resolve this issue by giving himself less time to complete his tasks. “For example, if I think revising my deck will take three hours, I’ll give myself two. It forces you to sit down, get things done and move on,” he said.