Are you looking to be more productive in your daily routine?
Do you want some practical tips that can be put to use, right away?
Making the decision to have a more productive day is always a great start.
It puts your mindset in a good place and sets you up for success.
Unfortunately, a solid decision will only get you so far.
You also need to make sure you effectively execute your plans.
Even the best plans in the world won’t mean much to you if you get caught up in distractions, trivial matters, and stretch yourself too thinly.
In this post, I offer eight timely tips to help you have a more productive day.
Each of these tips require some sort of careful and thoughtful planning and allotment of one’s time and energy.
In many cases, getting ahead in your daily tasks is not about accomplishing more tasks, but about making wise choices that afford you the time and space to accomplish what you set out to do.
Ready for the tips? Let’s get started!
Cut down on your daily to-dos.
How long is your daily to-do list? Is it filled with ten, twenty, thirty or more tasks? While accomplishing daily tasks is important, you must also keep in mind that you only have so many hours in a day. And let’s not forget the inherent nature of to-do lists: there will always be tasks that need to be completed.
Instead of creating a to-do list that makes your heart race and your hands turn sweaty, do yourself a favor: make your list manageable. Aim for three to five solid tasks for the day. This way, you’ll not only get things done, but you won’t feel overwhelmed in the process.
Does it feel as if everything absolutely has to be completed today? Now would be a good time to prioritize your tasks. What items are urgent and important? Which can be put off for another day? Don’t forget, you’ll have another chance to tackle your remaining to-dos, tomorrow.
Reel-in those exaggerated tasks.
“Updating my resume will take forever!” “It’ll take a whole year to rebuild that fence!” “Washing the dog will take the entire day!” Do any of these statements sound familiar?
It’s not uncommon for people to over-exaggerate even the smallest of tasks. The ironic part is that time spent complaining or procrastinating on a task is often longer than the time it takes to complete said task!
The next time you find yourself making even the slightest over-exaggeration, stop for a moment. Take a deep breath. Then, tell yourself the truth. What’s really going on?
Based on your past experiences, how long will it take to complete a task? How many hours do you need to devote to finish something?
At the very least, consider what you could accomplish if you simply stopped complaining and got down to business…
Get yourself organized.
Searching for lost or misplaced items not only causes headache and frustration, but wastes precious minutes and both mental and physical energy. Take a moment to consider which areas in your home or office could do with a spot of organization.
Don’t forget: the more organized you are, the easier it will be to find your tools and materials, and do your work. So, what’s on your list of organization projects? You don’t have to tackle a huge project; even working on a small organization project can work wonders.
For example, you might decide to declutter a corner of your living room, create labels for paper files, declutter your computer’s desktop, or organize the top of your desk. It helps to have a plan in place, so consider taking some time to think out your organizing project in detail and how you’ll accomplish it.
Take time to delegate work.
Do you find yourself doing everything under the sun when in fact you should be delegating your work to someone else? Delegating work can be an effective productivity tool…if you actually take the time to stop and delegate work!
What’s more, as soon as you hand off those tasks, you’ll instantly have more time in your schedule to tackle all those projects and assignments you’ve been meaning to work on. It will feel as if a giant weight has been lifted off of your shoulders in a mere handful of minutes.
Could your assistant book your hotel and flight for your next business trip in the blink of an eye? Do you have a colleague with a whole load of time on their hands who could stuff 500 letters into envelopes a couple of hours? Could you hire a local college kid to run some errands for you at home?
Ensure equipment is up to date.
Let’s face it: using a computer program that’s two versions behind can be a painful, excruciating experience. If you haven’t taken a close look at the computer programs, apps, machines, and tools in your possession in several months, you really should! Your productivity could be unnecessarily slowed by ineffective and outdated tools, equipment, or materials.
Which of your digital devices needs a new system update? Which items need to be cleaned, refurbished, refitted, or reviews? What items should be backed up, double-checked, or completely replaced? Again, this does take some investment of your time, but once you clear the hurdle, your overall productivity will start to climb.
Learn a new skill.
What could you get done in a day if you learned how to properly use that spreadsheet software? How much faster could you write those emails if you learned how to touch type? And what if you could learn how to shorten the time it takes you to create and edit that digital slideshow?
Strengthen your mind and productivity levels by learning a new skill. Let your imagination be your guide here: the idea is to shore up your skillset so you can do your work effectively and efficiently. A good place to start is all those mundane activities and tasks that seem to be even the slightest bit uncomfortable.
For example, what would it mean to you and your work if you learned how to touch type, operate the photocopier properly, or run a spreadsheet report in a blink of an eye?
Say “no” to optional meetings.
Time spent in meetings and gatherings can really eat up the hours at work…and beyond. Yes, there will be some meetings that you are required to attend, but there will be countless others that are entirely optional.
Get in the habit of evaluating each meeting or gathering to which you’re invited. Is it imperative you attend the meeting? Why or why not? If your presence is truly not required, consider politely declining. Remember, an invitation is an invitation, and not a decree that you must attend a certain function.
Schedule tasks into your calendar.
Have you ever heard of a time management technique called time-boxing? The process is extremely simple: you schedule a certain amount of time into your calendar to compete a task. The next step is to sit down and actually complete what you said you’d complete within that stated period of time.
Couldn’t be easier right? Take a moment to time-box one or two of your tasks today. Don’t be afraid to schedule items: remember, you’re scheduling them, so you can complete them. In fact, you may even find it refreshing to have a set deadline in which to complete your work.
A version of this post appeared on the blog in 2016.
How about you? Which of these tips are you going to use to have a more productive day? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!
Do you want help better managing your time and energy? I offer time management coaching and organizing mindset coaching. Click here to learn more.
Want to better manage your time? The Order Expert’s Guide to Time Management, is a hands-on workbook that provides practical solutions to common, everyday time management problems. Click here to learn more.