How do you become more productive? There is no simple answer that works for everyone. But there are a couple of things everyone can do to in order to become more productive. Most of the things are very easy to adopt, the difficult part is to keep on doing them every day. Therefore, we will start small and try to change just a few but important things. Small changes can make a lot of difference, if done consistently over a period of time.
First of all, do not multitask. Do only one thing at a time. Numerous studies have shown that multitasking drastically lowers your productivity. It may sound counter-intuitive but the fact is that multitasking is not the way to get more done. Instead, work on one single task at a time and finish the task before moving on to the next task. Of course, some tasks are too large to be finished within reasonable time. In that case, make sure to finish at a milestone, so that you can continue working on the task later without losing time on trying to work out how far you got last time.
It is best to work on a single task non-stop for about 40-50 minutes, without a break. After 40-50 minutes, most people need a break or their productivity will go downhill quickly. In the beginning, it may be difficult working on a single task for up to 40 minutes. It may be necessary to start with working 20 minutes nonstop and over time increase the time gradually to 40 or 50 minutes. After a short break, about 10 minutes, continue to work on one single task for 40-50 minutes.
The second thing you try to adopt is to always work on your most valuable task first. Don’t get tempted to do the easy things first. It is very easy to fool yourself and do the easy things first and after that, there is no time left for the important task. A very common excuse is to say that, I’ll do that tomorrow instead. But needless to say, the same thing happens next day.
One of the simplest way of becoming productive is to start working on your most valuable task first thing in the morning. You may want to go up a little bit earlier so that you can work 40-50 minutes without getting disturbed. This way, whatever distractions may occur during the day, you have at least managed to get something done on your most important project.
When you have finished a task, you should start on the task that is of highest value to you, or your employer if we are talking about work. Of course, every day we all must do activities that are not of high value but has to be done anyway. Try to allocate fixed time slots for such activities so that you also have time for your high-value tasks.
Lastly, don’t be afraid of not doing tasks. A day has 24 hours, it is more than enough to get several things done but it is not enough to get everything done. A lot of people spend plenty of time doing low value tasks, not because they have to be done but because that is what they have always done. Check what you are doing on a normal day and find activities that you can get rid of and use the time for more productive tasks.