Three Ways to be More Productive

Oct 20, 2010

Here are three quick, easy things you can do to be more productive today.

1 – Unplug
2 – Work in increments
3 – Plan you work

Unplug – This is tough to do in certain jobs so you need to evaluate what you can do. For example, I manage accounts for a software company. I have customers. I can’t unplug for too long. Maybe an hour. I typically will scan emails at least once an hour and then setup a time to process once every two hours or so. It is important, however, to unplug as much as your situation allows. Turn off your phone (or at least the sound – in case of an emergency call). Turn off your email – I use Lotus Notes and will go to my local setting. Turn off any notifications (email, text, etc). Close down as many browsers open that you can. You can focus so much better if you do this. I find that when I do this, I can accomplish a lot. Even in 20 minutes, you can blow through some of your actions. Try it – you might be surprised.

Work in increments – One of the best tools I’ve implemented is a timer. You can find them online (cool timer is a pretty good one). You can program different increments and set it to go off once it counts down to zero. I love this. Again, focused effort for a set amount of time will help you accomplish a lot. My most typical increments are 15 minutes or 26 minutes (don’t ask why 26 – just something I like). A lot of times I’ll get to the point where my times up and I just reset it b/c I’m in the zone. Another thing I’ve implemented is called a Tabata. I learned this from doing Crossfit (the workout I do). A Tabata is a timed workout where you typically do one exercise for a set amount of time and then take a quick break. For example, we do 20 seconds of push ups (as many as you can do) and then rest for 10 seconds. We repeat this eight times and then go on to another exercise (i.e. burpees). It kicks your butt and gets you a great workout in a short amount of time. Of course, 20 seconds isn’t enough time for work or personal actions. So, I increase each interval. I typically will go 10-15 minutes and then take a two minute break. It’s important to get up out of your seat for a bit. Changing your environment even for two minutes will recharge you. I will do this for an hour and then take a longer break (good time to check email or surf the web). Again, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve during this short amount of time.

Plan your work – This is GTD at its core. Figure out your desired outcomes and then determine what the very next action is for each. If you don’t do this, you will bounce around from item to item, wondering what you may NOT be working on. Your psyche gets bogged down, even if you don’t recognize it on the surface. You will also fall victim to latest and loudest behavior (which is sometimes necessary). If you don’t plan your work, you will spend a lot of your time putting out fires.

There you have it. Feel free to share what you do that really makes a difference in your day. Thanks for reading!

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