How do you know when you’re effective? How do YOU achieve supreme productivity? What criteria do you use to insure you’re efficiently hitting your targets at work or at home? If you’re like me, you have goals, plans, and schedules all over the place, and while many of them overlap each other, others are in conflict. You may really be efficient at juggling all of this and getting to the end of your priority list by the end of the day, but have you been truly effective and productive in what you’ve completed? There are times I question myself at the end of the day saying, “What DID I accomplish today?” Some days, it seems like I just barely made it through the day, but on those days where I know I was productive, proactive, and able to identify my accomplishments, it feels great!
Here are a few tips that I’ve been able to use to improve my productivity. See if these productivity tools can help you:
1. Focus on one task at a time. The myth of multitasking is the drumbeat these days and everyone seems to be writing about it. It’s true, you really cannot be effective and do two important things at the same time. Sure, you can walk and chew gum, but you cannot focus on an important project for your boss while also leading a meeting of your direct reports.
If you’ve said, “I’ve got so much to do, I don’t even know where to start!” You know the feeling of being overwhelmed. You’ll have to prioritize your tasks and then focus on the one that’s the most important. Concentrate your full attention on it, so you can complete it, get it off your plate and move on to the next prioritized task. Try using a time multiplier to help you get those multiple things done and completed.
Supreme productivity focuses on bringing a task to completion.
2. Be results oriented. Results are what matters and to reach peak productivity, you’ll have to become a results based leader.
Life is short, so it’s vitally important to set both personal and professional goals that enable you to achieve your dreams and ambitions. I knew a guy who went to a toy store and bought about 4,500 marbles, putting them all in a big 5 gallon pickle jar. Each marble represented one week of his life and, since he was 30, he immediately took 1,560 of them out. Those were the weeks he had already expended and thereafter, each Sunday morning, he took another marble out and threw it away. He said the visualization of watching the jar slowly empty was incredibly effective in helping him prioritize his goals and to remember that he only had so many weeks to accomplish them.
Productivity improvement comes from a results orientation.
While setting goals costs you nothing but a little time and thought, failing to do so can result in failure and regret.
3. Capitalize on your strengths. Make them work for you by finding a job that allows you to make good use of your talents and interests. You’ll find that you are happier, healthier and more effective. If, for example, your talents and interests lie in administrative functions, find a job that allows you to take best advantage of those strengths. If you’re an outdoors person, you won’t be happy cooped up in an office.
4. Make the most of your unscheduled time. This is a powerful concept for making the best use of time, at least it is for me. I find that I MUST have time to collect my thoughts, make goals, and concentrate on solutions to problems. But the only way I’m able to find time for myself is to actually schedule some downtime. I will explain to co-workers that I need 15 minutes of uninterrupted time and then take it by closing my office door and holding a phone up to my ear. It works!
Increase your efficiency by scheduling down time.
5. Make good decisions. Make wise decisions. Make the best long term decisions. When you make a decision, get all the information you need, ask others for their input and suggestions, consider all the alternatives and then make the decision.
The best way to develop decisiveness is with the very next decision you have to make.–Napoleon Hill
Remember, to not decide is to decide.
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