Productivity is a funny thing — it’s part personal habit, part organization and ALL mindset. If you feel overloaded and overwhelmed, the best preparation isn’t going to help you get past that stuck feeling. Conversely, if you are all ready to go, but your organization is a disaster, you will quickly expend all that energy spinning your wheels.
The good news about productivity is that good habits and routines go a long way to maintaining your momentum. Daily habits supported by smart ‘get-it-done’ strategies and a focused mindset will kick your productivity into high gear and keep it there. That’s the thing about productivity — once you have mastered the momentum, it just becomes how you do things!
7 Ways to Supercharge Your Productivity
Apply a Little Pressure — Give yourself reason to tackle your task quickly. Looming deadlines are always a good motivator, but what about all those tasks that don’t really have a hard deadline? Sometimes we are our own worst enemies when it comes to getting things done, forgiving ourselves too easily when we dilly-dally and don’t get the job done. Even if you don’t have an official deadline, give yourself one and stick to it!
Slow Down and Think Fast! — Take a moment (or two if you need it) to carefully evaluate the task to determine the best way to handle it quickly. What is the ultimate end result you are trying to achieve? Is there a technology trick that you can apply that will speed things along? Are there unnecessary steps that you can shortcut or eliminate altogether? Spending extra time at the beginning of a project will help you finish it faster than just plunging in without thinking it through.
Start With a Sprint — Once you have figured out your plan of attack, start the task at a whirlwind pace. For example, if your task is to write a blog post, a sprint start strategy would be to map it out in 5 minutes or less or do a 5 minute freeform brain-barf (similar to a brainstorm, but with even less control). You can (and will) slow down later, but the motivational boost you get by starting quickly will carry you to the end a lot faster.
Stay On Task — Get in the habit of finishing one task at a time. It’s okay to take breaks to clear your mind, but come back to the same task until you finish it. Starting tasks that you fail to finish is a surefire way to drain your productivity because you feel like you aren’t getting anything done (because you really aren’t when all you manage to do is get started). Don’t start a task unless you have the time and ability to finish it.
Avoid Fake-Work Projects — Learn how to recognize ‘fake-work’ projects for what they are: productivity-draining time sucks! A ‘fake-work’ project can be anything that doesn’t step you closer to your ultimate goal, but seem like productive work because they closely resemble work. Examples of ‘fake-work’ projects include cleaning your desk, reorganizing your filing system, or learning how to do something you would be better to outsource.
Record Your Results — Find a way to track of your accomplishments and review your progress regularly. Tracking your results forces you into a bit of a competition with yourself. For example, if your goal is to write 2,500 words a day, record what you actually wrote in your calendar each day and review your progress regularly, trying to stay ahead of your best week.
Give Yourself Mental Space — Clear your work space of distractions. For example, if that pile of mail sitting on your desk waiting for you to open it is driving you crazy, either open it and deal with it right now or file it out of sight (but not forgotten) until you have time to handle it. It’s a good idea to schedule mental distractions in your calendar so your brain can truly let it go and focus on the task at hand.