1. Put Away That Smartphone
According to research by Statista, a whopping 6.6 billion of us are smartphone users. That equates to about 83% of the world’s population. It will come as no surprise then that one of the biggest reasons for productivity dips at work comes from having a smartphone within reach.
The allure of checking who’s liked our latest Instagram post or the latest news headlines is often too much to handle. You might at this point be thinking “I only check it for a second or two at a time, so it’s no big deal”. Quite the contrary, a study by The University of California, Irvine, found that it can take up to 23 minutes to fully focus on a task again after checking on a notification.
2. Become an ‘Async Comm’ Pro
“What on earth is ‘Async Comm?” Async Comm, short for asynchronous communication, is a communication form that revolves around non-immediate conversation forms. In effect, this means instead of looking to instantly reply to an email or chat message, we should respond when it’s most appropriate.
So many of us feel obligated to reply immediately, maybe because we think it’s rude not to or it shows that we’re being attentive. Like I said above, in reality most of these emails aren’t urgent and can wait a while for a response. Instead we should strive to set aside time in a day to reply to colleagues so we can be task-focused the rest of the day.
3. Prioritize One-Way Doors over Two-Way Doors
When a successful business person offers advice, it’s always worth listening. When Jezz Bezos, founder of Amazon and worth an estimated $171 billion, offers advice, you’d better get your notebook.
A few years ago the self made billionaire offered a tidbit on staying productive. He said there are two kinds of decision:
One-Way Door Decisions
The kind of decision that, once made, can’t be reversed. These are the big decisions that demand time and attention so that they are made right. One-way door decisions should be your priority. For example: Buying a house.
Two-Way Door Decisions
The kind of decision that can usually be easily reversed once made. These decisions don’t deserve serious consideration and in Bezos’ words “can and should be made quickly.” For example: Painting a wall.
There you have it. If Bezos is telling us this is the way to succeed in our worklife, I think we ought to accept it and implement it. So spend your time thinking about the one-way doors, not the two-way ones.
4. Identify Your Superpower Hour
Every single one of us has a certain time of day that they are most productive. It has long been claimed that the most productive time of day is the morning, however a 2020 study by the IZA institute of Labor Economics found that in actual fact, 1:30 PM is when we are most productive.
Try and identify at what time in the workday you feel most capable of getting through tasks and then use that time to work on the most important projects, the one-way door decisions I spoke about above.
If for example the main project you have been working on is how to calculate customer lifetime value and you work best at 1PM – 3PM, save working on that project until that period. Leaving the morning for sub-tasks of the project, in this instance perhaps calculating CSAT. What is CSAT? Essentially CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score) is a metric that’s usually found through post-interaction surveys and questionnaires.
5. Keep Work Life and Home Life Separate
As I said before, so many of us are now working either fully at home or partially at home and at the office. Unfortunately, this has led to the lines between work life and home life to blur. This is bad news because work is a place of action, productivity and sometimes stress. Homelife is usually the counterweight to work-life and a place to unwind.
While it can seem difficult to separate work and home, when you work from home, there are two key tips that can make it easier.
- Dedicate one room/space for work – Tempting as it may be, don’t take work to the living room, dinner table or worse still, your bed. Certain places should be dedicated workspaces.
- Stick to your hours – Where possible, always try and work the hours you want. It might be tempting to put another hour into a project when you can’t find anything to watch on Netflix at 9 pm, but this blurs the lines between off and on even more.
- Not mixing accounts – One of the biggest mistakes you can make is using work and personal accounts interchangeably. So many people use the same Gmail account for both work and personal to save switching. When it’s much better to adopt integrated gmail tracking tools for your work account instead.
6. Don’t Stall, Ever!
We have all been there, an important project is due, the deadline is bearing down and what are we doing? Organizing our files on the shared drive, updating contacts on our VoIP client, pondering the benefits of an .io domain, or just about anything else that doesn’t need doing right then.
Incidentally if you are asking yourself “what is io domain?” It is the registered domain of the British Indian Ocean Territory. And a popular domain choice for SaaS and other tech brands.
Stalling and procrastinating are just fancy ways of saying time-wasting. It should be obvious why this is bad for productivity, yet we all get the urge sometimes. Whenever you feel yourself leaning towards time-wasting, take a few minutes to reassess where you are with the project. And find out why you are trying to stall. Set yourself a few small goals within the project and push ahead to complete them and then reassess. Trying to use project tracking software will help to avoid stalling on tasks.
On the subject of stalling…
7. Avoid the Dreaded ‘Parkinson’s Law’
Parkinson’s Law is one of those lesser-known proverbs that I’m sure 99% of us can relate to, to some degree. It states “Work expands so as to fill the time available for completion”. What this means is that if you have six hours to, let’s say, research how consumers are rating apps and you know could take four, it’s likely going to end up taking closer to 6.
This isn’t to say that we’re being lazy, quite the contrary in fact. If we know we have 6 hours to complete it, we tell ourselves we have more time to make it perfect. When in actuality, it probably won’t end up being any better with the extra time invested.
Productivity hack: Help yourself avoid Parkinson’s Law by adopting other key time management strategies such as being in sight of a clock and learning to say no.
8. Always Prioritize Single-Tasking
Contrary to popular belief, we’re generally not all that great at multitasking. Sure, we might be able to do two or more things at once, but that doesn’t mean we should. It’s been proven time and time again that we’re much better at doing one thing well and then moving on to the next.
In a similar vein to how we take 23 minutes to fully focus after checking our phone, the same can be said when we switch between tasks.
Productivity hack: Order your tasks by priority and work at them one by one and watch yourself boost your productivity in an instant.
9. Build a Work Routine That Fits You
One of the biggest reasons our productivity isn’t as high as it should be is because we aren’t working in a way that gets the best from us. Take a step back every once in a while. Pick an aspect of your working routine and ask yourself “Am I doing this because it works for me?”. If not, tweak it until it becomes you oriented instead.
10. Keep the End Goal in Mind
It’s human nature to have off days and struggle to be motivated. On those days it’s so important to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. Close your eyes and concentrate on the big picture. The end goal.
“This project is paying the bills, it’s paying for that vacation with my family”. Or, “this project expands my portfolio and builds skills to add to my resume”. Or maybe, “this project is going to give me a great sense of achievement when it’s finally submitted”.
Productivity hack: Keep your eye on the prize and remind yourself that being productive helps you achieve what you want.