In all, I’ve made 968 presentations on different aspects of achieving work-life balance and harmony, getting more done and becoming more productive.
On occasion, audience participants send me summaries of what they learned, and the summaries are frequently excellent. Below are 10 tips that I’ve discussed at length over many years on the topic of how to be more productive. The list came from a single individual, offered in brief bullet points.
1) Review and refine your to-do list, the night before. When you do so, you’re better prepared and more focused for starting the next day. In other words, “You hit the skids running” early next morning.
2) Begin with the hardest task. When you tackle the most difficult task first, before you handle progressively easier tasks, you are doing yourself a big favor. After you conquer the big one, by comparison all else seems mild.
3) Periodically peruse your to-do list or task roster. A quick review enables you to plan your day and week more effectively. Also, alternating simple tasks among hard tasks helps you to roll through the day with more energy and greater focus.
4) Take periodic strategic breaks all day, even if they are merely 50 to 60 seconds. Ten 1-minute breaks spaced accordingly enable you to become more productive than if you toiled all day without such breaks.
5) Whenever you schedule a meeting, prepare an agenda because it will help you stay on track and informs all participants as to the sequence of items to be addressed. And, most vital, your agenda helps to ensure that the meeting ends on time.
6) When you find yourself vacillating throughout the day, consider that you are generally happier when you’re productive, versus not. That thought by itself could help you to begin on the next task or to finish up the task that’s presently holding you back.
7) Constantly separate important items from those that are merely urgent. Urgent tasks scream out at us, but in the big picture of events are not so vital. Important tasks offer value to you, end-users, your boss, your team, and your organization.
8) If it’s useful, employ a timer, set to 20 minutes or so, to help keep you productive all day long. After 20 minutes, you can handle minor tasks or check email. Then, return to work, re-setting the timer to another 20 minutes.
9) Anticipate roadblocks, which will occur, sometimes multiple times daily. Nobody sails through an eight or nine hour day unscathed. Especially you!
10) Contemplate your daily exit from the workplace, long before closing. Determine what you want to finish before departing. As you leave, do so with a clean mind. When you arrive at your next destination, whether home or somewhere else, be there in full! Have a life, for the rest of the day.