5 Easy Ways to Improve Productivity, Starting Today
By: Jordan DeTar // March 11, 2019
The other day, I was listening to HBR’s Women at Work, and one of the guests mentioned how she became a more productive employee after having kids. Why? Because she was now forced to prioritize. While she was willing to sacrifice her own wants and needs for work prior to having kids, she wasn’t willing to do the same as a mother. Improving her productivity was now a necessity. But shouldn’t it always have been?
While I don’t yet have children, I do have a life outside of work. Whether it’s a child, a pet, a workout class, or even watching The Bachelor with your girlfriends, you deserve to have a life outside of work, too. Improving productivity is clearly necessary to enable us to enjoy healthy, balanced lives, but how can we achieve that? How can we be productive when we’re being pulled into so many different directions? While there’s no foolproof recipe for success, there are some behaviors that I’ve tried to embrace that help to improve productivity both at and outside of the workplace.
1. Say Goodbye to Multitasking
Everyone’s first inclination to increase productivity is to multitask. Wrong. As Douglas Merrill writes in this Forbes article, “Your brain just can’t take in and process two simultaneous, separate streams of information and encode them fully into short-term memory.” In simple terms, multi-tasking is distracting, it doesn’t work, and it wastes time.
2. Take on Task Batching
If there was a single key to improving productivity (which there isn’t), I think it would be task batching. Anna Wood, CEO/Founder of Brains Over Blonde, first introduced me to task batching through this post. Task batching is essentially grouping related tasks together and then blocking off time to knock them all out at once. This process can be applied to work-related activities (like sending emails and scheduling calendar invites), house-related work (like sweeping floors and doing laundry), or even social activities (like making dinner reservations and researching Saturday excursions). Go batch those tasks!
3. Block off Personal Time
Some people may gasp at the idea of blocking time on their calendar for themselves, but I see it as the only guaranteed way to get things done. We’re all willing to block hours off for meetings with our bosses, coworkers, and clients, but if we don’t set aside time to actually get work done and focus on ourselves, we’ll never be productive. I once had a boss who required every team member to block off 2 hours per day to accomplish their goals. While it was difficult to navigate at first, the result was increased productivity and therefore more time to dedicate to clients. Mission accomplished.
4. Do a Social Media Mini-cleanse
Last week, my roommate and I deleted our Instagram apps for a week. Why? We had both become obsessive with catching up to our feeds, sometimes spending hours scrolling to ensure we didn’t miss a single post. Instagram had become a productivity prohibitor. A few weeks later, I can confidently say that I have broken that habit. Now, I sometimes check Instagram in the morning, almost always after work, and very rarely during the work day. Social media is a black hole – stay away if you want to get anything done. And then selfishly indulge after (I heard the @feminequity Instagram feed is superb).
5. Capitalize on the Commute
As someone who spends a lot of time traveling, I always look for pockets of time to improve my productivity wherever I can. Standing in line for boarding on Mondays has been elevated from annoying to productive as I now spend that time making my list of priorities for the week ahead. That 30-minute metro ride to the office on Friday morning doesn’t feel like a waste anymore; it’s my chance to start submitting time and expense for the week. Use your commute wisely, and you’ll save so much time.
So, what are your tips for improving productivity? How do you best work so that you can also enjoy life outside of work? Let us know on instagram here!
What did you think? Let’s chat. Comment below!
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