It's the time of year when you see plenty of articles about productivity hacks on how to get more done. We decided to go straight to our clients, real business owners like you, to get the scoop on what productivity practices they use that work for them. You may be familiar with some. But here's the deal: these are battle-tested from individuals who place high value on getting work done.
- Set the right goals. A big goal sounds great, but it may have too many moving parts to manage and requires a 'perfect storm' to reach it. Set big goals, but ones that you can envision reaching in a manageable way.
- Focus on completing one task at a time. Productivity can easily be wasted in the 'between time' when you jump between tasks and try to figure out where you left off.
- Make a reasonable list. Keep your daily goals and tasks short and achievable, then stick to it. Make your list before you leave for the day so you can hit the ground running in the morning. When progress is visible, it can give you momentum to move forward. And don't forget to enjoy the satisfaction of crossing a task off the list.
- Prioritize. Create your daily task list in order of importance. Get the big tasks done first before the interruptions take your focus away. And avoid putting anything off. Do it right then and there, if you can.
- Manage your time well. Pay attention to the times of day when you are most productive. For instance, you may want to take advantage of the morning when you are fresh versus the end of the day when productivity can fade. Tackle difficult tasks during the time when you have the most focus, and dedicate other times for less demanding tasks. Consider working in 50-minute blocks with short breaks in between.
- Use tools. Keep a hard-copy or electronic journal or notebook to manage and organize your tasks. Digital tools allow you to filter tasks for the day, making it easier to stick to your daily. Other applications can be great for organizing.
- Reduce distractions. Email can be a huge time drain. Consider limiting your email activity by scheduling time every couple of hours to check it and stick to it. Similarly, schedule phone time to make or return calls, and shut your cell phone off during your planned work blocks.
- Clear your desk before you leave for the day. This is one habit that takes some time to develop but can be worth the effort. Nearly every business owner we talked to said that this hack makes their days more productive. Set aside time at the end of the day to assess your progress, celebrate accomplishments, and prepare for your next work day.
Productivity hacks can be useful if you put them into practice. Many of these hacks are simple, time-tested practices that can keep you organized, focused, and moving forward.