A Guide to Personal Productivity: How to Achieve More
How often have you thought, “if only there were more hours in the day”? You are not alone. After all, there are only twenty-four of them. Twenty-four hours to complete our tasks and achieve our goals.
Unfortunately, we cannot magic up more time. What we can do, however, is use our time more effectively.
Set Your Goals & Plan Your Week
Setting goals motivates us in the short term and provides vision in the long term.
It is good practice to set your goals each week and pull together a weekly plan on Sunday night; this can leave you feeling energized and motivated when waking up on a Monday morning.
A few thoughts on questions you may want to ask yourself:
- What do you want to look back and be proud of when finishing up at the end of the week?
- What tasks do you want to have completed?
- When do you need certain tasks done by?
- Which stakeholders do you need to engage?
When planning your week, goals help you to prioritize. Ask yourself the question: “is this specific task helping me achieve my goal(s) or is it hindering my progress?” This often makes it much clearer what to do first, and what may be pushed down the priority order.
Complete One Task at a Time
Most of us are guilty of trying to multi-task, often as many believe it is a way of being more productive. This is rarely, if ever, the case. Trying to complete multiple tasks at once is an inefficient use of time. Focus on one task at a time until completion and your productivity will skyrocket.
There are various techniques you can employ to assist with this, including the Pomodoro and Flowtime techniques. While both have their intricacies, the general idea is to break down your day into manageable blocks of time with frequent opportunities to break. Whilst working, you should focus on only one task.
Spending Your Life in Meetings?
How often do we all complain about the hours on end that we spend in meetings?
Without a doubt, meetings are an important part of business; they are a time for collaboration and bringing people together to work towards objectives.
However, a meeting is only effective if it has a specific purpose and a tangible outcome. It seems to have become ingrained in our business culture to schedule them without the forethought of what needs to be achieved.
Here are a few ideas to take back some time in your day:
- Shorten meetings. Take 5 minutes off a 30-minute meeting or 10 minutes from an hour-long one.
- Say no to meetings unless you truly believe you can add value to attending.
- Reduce meeting frequency to enhance quality.
- If you decide a meeting is necessary, create an agenda and ensure actions are taken within the discussion.
Organize Your Life’s Information
Our information is everywhere. We no longer store our documentation in filing cabinets as we may have used to. We store information on our laptops, on e-mail, scribbled down on a piece of paper, or in a letter received through the post; in short, we are often unaware of where vital documents are, and this can create both pain and frustration.
Utilizing a digital information vault is an excellent way to circumvent this issue. For those of you who are unaware, digital vaults are online platforms in which users store their information for it to be centrally held in one place. This saves users time locating their information. No longer will you be searching around for your National Insurance number, your car insurance renewal date, or the leasehold agreement you urgently need to get a hold of. Simply log on to the vault, download the relevant documents, and you are on your way. Easy.
An additional benefit is that it will also ensure that this information can be passed on as the user wishes in the event anything happens to them; this can provide reassurance to family and friends.
Get Out of Bed Earlier
The tip most of us do not want to hear. However, it is the only sure-fire way of creating more time in your day to be productive.
Start off by setting your alarm fifteen minutes before you would usually get up and incrementally make this earlier. Techniques such as placing your alarm out of reach or using sleep tracking apps can be employed to assist with making jumping out of bed easier in the morning.
Make Time to Do Things You Enjoy
Life is short and it is important we spend it doing things we love, in both our personal and professional lives. Hard work and drive are both important traits seen in successful people, but so are the ability to detach and achieve balance.
Ensure you plan in downtime every day, relax most weekends, and take your well-deserved annual leave. These allow for regeneration and sustained drive, propelling your productivity forwards.