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How To Be More Productive: 9 Proven Strategies To Try
Productive people can do more with less time, using their time and resources wisely. If you want to be one, read on and learn the proven strategies on how to be more productive.
I'm one of the 71% of people that feel more productive while listening to music. But of course, people boost their productivity differently. Some treat their time as money to ensure they can manage it accordingly, while some formulate their own strategies.
If you want the latter option, here are 9 proven strategies you can implement to increase productivity and lessen procrastination. I've also busted some myths and included healthy productivity tips and habits to help you focus on achieving outstanding results. Let's get started.
9 Proven Strategies To Improve Productivity
Productivity isn't all about improving the quality of your work but also attaining a healthy work-life balance. Implement the following strategies properly and ease your mind so that you can get the most out of your day. Let's start with your workspace.
1. Set Up A Proper Workspace
The human brain's ability to focus changes as you age. The older you get, the harder it is to concentrate. One effective strategy you can apply is setting up a proper workspace.
You'll never have a problem if you're working in an office setup. Company owners always design the work environment to optimize their employees' comfort, performance, and safety. You can replicate this design when you choose to work from home.
The first step is picking a specific section of the house that you can use daily. This section must have access to natural lighting, good ventilation, and is distraction-free to guarantee comfort and productivity. It's a bonus that two of these requirements can also save tons of energy.
Other requirements you can add will be based on your specific needs. No matter what you add, ensure to keep it clean, organized, and welcoming. Simply create a physical environment that you want to work in.
The next step is choosing furniture. A traditional office desk is suitable for embracing a sedentary lifestyle. But if you're more active, you can select a standing desk instead.
Both are good options, but research shows that a standing desk is more beneficial to one's health. It helps you burn more calories and increases your overall energy levels. As a result, people who stand throughout the workday finish more workloads than those who stay seated.
But I still suggest getting an adjustable office desk. Too much sitting or standing can damage one's health. The adjustable office desk is a great solution to maintain a perfect balance.
2. Use The Right Applications To Create A Productive Workflow
Modern technology plays a vital role in increasing productivity. It's developed to do all the heavy lifting so people can focus more on the most important tasks. There are plenty of applications available today to help you do the job right every time.
I've listed some of the most efficient applications to give you an idea. No matter what productivity tools you pick, it includes automation to lessen the human intervention in the processes. Pre-designed templates are also included to cut down the task creation process without compromising accuracy.
- Productivity apps such as Google Docs and Evernote help you easily create documents, presentations, databases, and worksheets.
- Project management tools streamline your workflows and processes, from planning to delivery.
- Online communication tools for better collaboration with teams and stakeholders. You can use Slack. It's perfect for doing your regular check-in with teammates by starting a Slack call or video conferencing.
- Time management tools closely monitor the time spent and progress made for specific projects.
- A dividend calculator provides estimates of your future income on your dividend stock portfolio.
- Amazon repricing tool automatically updates your product prices. It's one of the essential eCommerce tools for online sellers.
- Free browser extensions allow you to add various features and functions for quick access.
Productivity Hacks: Reduce Digital Distractions
Everything has its fair share of pros and cons, and modern technology isn't an exemption. Its popular disadvantage is creating a distraction in the workplace. It's best to reduce its potential before it can disrupt your work productivity.
One good way to do this is to disable non-work-related push notifications on your online tools. Emails, instant messaging, and social media are the common sources you need to focus on. You can also set the Do Not Disturb option so that you can set them aside during working hours and handle them whenever you're free.
3. Implement The Best Time Management Technique
Time management can help you produce better work and complete it ahead of its deadline. Using the right applications can do the job quickly and accurately, but it isn't enough. You must also apply the appropriate technique to maximize your productivity.
One technique you can apply is the 4Ds of time management. It allows you to identify the importance of all tasks/projects and place them into their proper categories - delete, delegate, defer, and do. I've shared a screenshot below to show you how to apply them to your workflow.
4D is an excellent technique to identify which tasks and projects matter to you in a limited time. If it isn't suitable for your needs, you can try any of the following time management techniques. I've explored each technique to understand its purpose.
- Pomodoro Technique: Best for individuals who are stressed or burned out. Select a task to do and set the timer for 25 minutes. Record your progress and take a 5-minute break when the timer runs out. If the task takes longer, repeat the process thrice before taking a long break.
- Eisenhower Matrix: Best for project managers and team leaders. Prioritize tasks by urgency and importance. Sort them into important, unimportant, urgent, and not urgent.
- Getting Things Done (GTD) Method: Best for individuals who struggle to build concentration. It creates an efficient workflow system that allows you to complete each task in five steps - capture, clarify, organize, review, and engage
Productivity Hacks: Get Inspirations From The Experts
Have you ever felt like no matter how hard you try, there never seems to be enough time to accomplish everything? Get inspired by learning the best time management tips from experts. Find out how they manage their time daily and achieve their goals at the end of the day.
LinkedIn is an excellent platform to reach out to the experts in your field and other professionals who experience the same challenge. You can also listen to productivity podcasts to learn new approaches and knowledge. The 5 AM Miracle by Jeff Sanders, Productivityist by Mike Vardy, and Back to Work by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin are a few of the podcasts you must listen to.
4. Plan Your Day for Maximum Efficiency
Assuming you successfully identify all projects and tasks that you need to do, it's time for you to plan your day. It's recommended to dedicate time to handling repetitive, daily tasks and deep work. This way, you can work continuously from one task to another without breaking your momentum.
You can schedule each task per hour or based on your working pace. For large tasks, you can break them into smaller tasks. It's an excellent strategy to identify your starting point.
After doing so, organize the small tasks and create a clear roadmap so you can find a way to finish them fast. You can also use this technique to split big goals into smaller ones.
Myth Busted: Multitasking
Productivity is about accomplishing a lot of tasks at a high quality and quick speed. Some adopt the concept of multitasking in the hope of increasing their levels of productivity. Unfortunately, multitasking can only work on computers and not on humans.
Multitasking allows you to switch focus from one task to another, but you can never finish them both simultaneously. Single-tasking remains the most powerful strategy to sharpen your concentration and memory.
Besides that, optimize your day for efficiency. A game changer for me, for example, has been leveraging “brought to you” companies:
- Instead of physically shopping for groceries, have them delivered.
- Instead of wasting hours finding clothes, use closing subscription boxes.
- Instead of fixing your car’s breaks in a regular car repair shop, let them come to you.
I’m sure you get what I’m saying.
5. Learn To Use Shortcuts
Not all strategies on how to be more productive require long planning and analysis. Some strategies are easy to accomplish. One of them is learning to use shortcuts.
Most computer programs and online applications today provide various shortcuts to save time. Automation is the function that allows you to create shortcuts that run automatically based on your set schedule or rules. You can disable or edit their purpose anytime.
Keyboard shortcuts are another handy method to use. Apps and programs provide different shortcuts; it's advisable to get yourself familiar with it and identify which one suits your needs. Look at the screenshot below to see some of the popular keyboard shortcuts.
6. Improve Skills To Boost Productivity
Skill development is a key player in achieving success. Its importance grows even more when the pandemic hit - it widens the skills gap. The skills you need to improve are listed below to answer the question of how to be more productive.
- Decision-making skills
- Communication skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Stress management skills
Mastering all productivity skills are essential. However, ensure to take ample time to learn each skill. Doing so will guarantee that you can apply them in the right situation.
Aside from your productivity skills, investing in your professional development won't hurt. For example, if you're a professional technician. Further improving your skills will ensure you can give your customers the best brake repair experience.
Don't know where to start? You can search on Google for the relevant school near you or online learning platforms if you prefer virtual classes. I've included a screenshot to give you an idea of the available options.
Assuming you've found what you like, search and read their online reviews to help you make an informed decision. It's best to avoid schools or online platforms with too many negative reviews or low star ratings. Ironhack review is an excellent example for developers because it includes the courses and the cost they offer.
Productivity Hacks: Read Online Resources For Free
Improving one's skills doesn't have to be expensive. There are free online options available you can use to gain the knowledge you need. How-to guides are popular because the process is neatly lined up from start to end (example: How to parse resumes online for free).
Some how-to guides provide tips and strategies (long and short-term) to win clients for your boutique agency, for example. If your job requires you to look at statistical data (example: eCommerce statistics), then an online statistical database like Statista is the best available platform.
Q&A websites are the ideal platform for individuals looking for a direct answer. For example, you want to sell a SaaS business. You can visit sites like Quora to know which SaaS metrics matter most for investors.
How To Be More Productive: Healthy Productivity Habits To Adapt
Training your mind to stay sharp, focused, and productive is good. But don't take your body for granted. That's why I'll focus on healthy productivity habits you must adopt for the remaining three strategies to keep your mind and body in tip-top shape.
Pro-Tip: Sometimes, radically changing the way you do things can be most productive.
Let’s say, for years, you’ve been trying to improve your marketing skills, but unfortunately, it’s just not working. Instead of trying to educate yourself even more about marketing, entirely changing the approach by hiring a freelancer or a trusted marketing agency might be the most productive approach to it.
True to the motto: Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses.
7. Stay Hydrated Throughout The Day
Aside from hunger, dehydration can also cause productivity to drop. It isn't surprising because the human body contains around 60% to 70% water. Not to mention, water is crucial in delivering the nutrients, blood, and oxygen to the brain for its cells to function well.
According to the National Library of Medicine's study, a drop of 1–2% can impair a person's cognitive performance. Therefore, it's recommended to track your daily water intake before you suffer the consequence.
Females have less body water than males because they carry more fat mass. If the recommended water intake is between 6 to 8 (8-ounce) glasses per day, you need to add more glasses to feel more energized. Do the same during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Aside from body weight, the duration of water intake depends on the level of physical activity. For example, if you're exercising, you must drink water 30 minutes before and after. During the exercise, you need to consume water every 20 minutes (every 10 minutes for an intense workout).
Ensure the water is fresh and warm (a cool temperature is also suitable). Water isn't the only beverage you can drink to stay hydrated. Milk, fruit-infused water, and sports drinks are some excellent options.
A few beverages can heal one's body and soul. Organic tea is the best option and you can drink it hot or cold.
Healthy Advice: The Coffee Effect
Some people cannot survive a morning without a good cup of coffee. No one can blame them because, apart from their appetizing aroma, caffeine is a natural stimulant. This means it can increase power and activity in your brain, muscles, central nervous system, and more.
It can indeed boost your energy and alertness. However, too much can cause anxiety, trouble sleeping, thirst, and other respiratory issues. Ensure to consume coffee moderately (up to 400 mg per day).
8. Exercise Regularly
Getting things done on time isn't only beneficial to work and your personal life. Apart from eating healthy and staying hydrated, you can improve it further by allocating enough time to exercise.
Exercise is scientifically proven to improve creativity and productivity. The exact impact of exercise on the brain's function is still a mystery, but scientists are confident that exercise enhances the blood flow to the brain and even feeds the growth of new blood vessels and cells.
Kaspersky's research also proves that most individuals take physical exercise to manage stress and improve their overall well-being. Look at the screenshot below to understand it better.
Now that you understand the benefits of exercise, the next question to answer is which type of exercise is best for productivity. The simple act of walking is always a great way to keep your creative juices flowing. It's easy to do, and you can quickly slide it into your schedule.
The best part of it is you can do it indoors and outdoors. You can walk while buying your lunch or find a good spot to take your smoke break. Getting on a treadmill will also do wonders.
Yoga and aerobic exercise are also recommended. You can combine aerobic exercise with resistance training for everyone who loves to go to the gym. This combo is proven to increase brain power.
Ensure the aerobic exercise is between low to moderate intensity (high intensity is only applicable for weight loss). Taking some pre-workout supplements also improves endurance.
9. Take Breaks To Regain Focus
There are plenty of ways to regain focus. It just happens that taking breaks is the most effective because it only takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds (average) to regain your focus after a distraction. It's also a plus that it can help relieve eye strain caused by the blue light emitted from electronic screens.
So, taking regular breaks is best to lessen burnout and stress. Like your workloads, you must also plan your breaks to balance your time. By default, you can take a short break for about 3-5 minutes.
A minute break is also acceptable for most stressful times, and you want a breather. If you're using the Pomodoro technique, you can have a 25 minutes of break.
The break duration will depend on various situations. One 1-hour and three 10-minute breaks are usually provided if you're employed. But for freelancers and remote work employees, they can schedule their breaks anytime.
Healthy Advice: General Rule For Breaks
People take breaks differently. To maintain a healthy balance of time, you need to get 15 to 20 minutes of break for every 90 minutes of continuous work.
You can do your best work when your health is at its optimum level. So, maintain a healthy mind and body to achieve your big and small goals. You can further increase your success rate when you apply these 9 proven strategies on how to be more productive.
I don't recommend applying all these strategies at the same time. It's best to identify the one most resonating with your goals and make it your starting point. Don't forget to set aside a sufficient amount of time to reset yourself and rest.
Do you have more strategies to share? Leave it in the comment section, and let's discuss them.
Burkhard Berger is the founder of Novum™. Follow Burkhard on his journey from $0 to $100,000 per month. He's sharing everything he learned in his income reports on Novum™ so you can pick up on his mistakes and wins.