For many years I’ve been working with individuals, teams and businesses on ways to help them achieve more through looking at the way they work. This has led me to develop a tool to really show the correlation between wellbeing, culture and performance, so I give you my Wheel of Wellbeing, Culture and Performance:
In this series of blogs I’m going to give you hints and tips on ways to improve each area and why each one is inter-connected to the next.
Today i’m going to talk about productivity
No matter how you put it, everyone needs to complete a number of tasks/jobs/things to-do every day but how can you make sure you are being as productive as possible?
Having read many blog posts about productivity and my fair share of business books on the subject, here are some of the things that work for me:
1: To-do list(s)
This can be a simple list to jog your memory to do things, often I’ve just noted down a single word or person’s name on a scrap bit of paper to remember to do something or it can be more complicated with priorities/categories but just do what works for you. Stephen Covey is best known for helping people become more effective with his books, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People being his most successful to date. For years I’ve followed his way to manage my to-do list where I prioritise tasks for their importance (A1,A2,A3, B1,B2…) and then use arrows and crosses to indicate tasks that I’m moving to another day or can be scrubbed of the to-do list all together. The trick is also not to make really long to-do list as this can seem daunting, be realistic with how much time you are actually going to work in a day and make sure your to-do list reflects this, there is no harm in moving tasks to days later in the week if you know you have got something urgent to do today & also allow a little time for emergency tasks too. But no matter how you cut it, writing a list will help you get more done.
2: Working with your body
Most of us know when we are at our best, be it an early bird or night owl, and if you work with you body you’ll also find it easy to get tasks completed. For me working early in the morning is when I’m at my most productive so if I’ve got something really important to do I’ll do it first thing. But if you function better in the afternoon/evening then work with this!! We live in a 24 hours society now so you really can work the hours that fit with you! Yes I know most businesses still work to the standard business hours 9-5pm Monday to Friday so you do need to be able work within these time frames at time, but I also thinks rules are there to be broken & if working late at night works for you then just do it!!
3: Stop Multitasking
As much as we think that we can do lots of things all at once, in reality we can’t! Our brain is only able to focus on one thing at a time!! Less is more when it comes to productivity, start a job and finish it before you go onto the next one & shut off your email alerts too!! Email is a productivity killer, yes we live in a world where people expect instant answers but being constantly interrupted by email alerts isn’t helping your productivity and therefore not helping the people who are communicating with you as they deserve your full attention! Instead schedule time every hour to check your emails & respond/action accordingly. You’ll be amazed how much time you save by doing this.
4: Schedule regular tasks
If there are things that you do on a daily/weekly basis then it might be worth thinking about putting them in as a diary entry (time allocated to the task & put it as an appointment in your diary) to ensure they don’t become additional things that need to be done. I make sure every day I set aside one hour to work on my social media for example, this includes writing posts/tweets, responding to posts, researching for futures posts/tweets. This mean that it happens everyday. The one hour sometimes gets broken down into 4 15 minute slots, morning, lunchtime, afternoon and early evening.
5: Have regular breaks
The average person’s attention span is around 10 minutes!! It’s not very long is it? Being mindful of this allows you to be completely focused on the task as hand, when I think of a break it doesn’t have to be a long time, it could purely a couple of minutes away from the screen just to give your eyes a rest, I work from home so often i’ll just wander around the house just to stretch my legs & get a change of scenery & it really does work as once I’m back at my desk I can re-focus and carry on what I was doing with renewed focus,
6: Stay hydrated and eat well
This may be an obvious thing to say but I’ve spoken to many business people over the years and i’m always shocked how poor their diet is and I myself am guilty of rushing around in a day trying to get things done and actually eating/drinking is often the thing that gets forgotten, mainly because if you’re very busy, your body is interpreting this as stress therefore producing the stress hormones to keep you going!! I’ve gone for hours without food and drink & when I realised this my body doesn’t thank me for it as it suddenly craves the bad food choices. On average we roughly need around 2 litres of fluid every day, this does vary depending how active you are and you only have to be 2% dehydrated for it to start affecting your performance!! Food plays a major part in helping you to perform at your best and this topic will soon be a separate blog post (another sector of the wheel – Access to food/water) as I could go on for ages about food choices but the one top tip I’d say is to ensure your diet contains essential fatty acids (mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats) found in nuts, seeds and oily fish. The reason this is my top tip is that the brain is made up of 60% fat so having this type of fat in your diet ensure your brain is working at it’s optimum.
The list of tips could go on and on so may be in a few months times I’ll give you some more but it’s over to you time, what tips can you share that have helped you become more productive?
If you’d like to know more about how I can help you and your team achieve more, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org