You have work that you’ve got to do, but it wouldn’t hurt to just check Facebook one more time … right?
Productivity is important, and in our always-connected world there are a lot of things that try to chip away at it. If you found yourself being less productive than you would have liked last year, the new year is a great opportunity to turn things around.
It’s a new start, and here are some ideas on upping your productivity to get you started:
- Tame Your Phone: Your phone is an important piece of equipment, holding your contacts and various apps that are essential for both your business and personal lives. Unfortunately, it’s also a huge source of distraction. Facebook, Twitter, Angry Birds, Candy Crush… there are a ton of popular apps out there that are easy to get sucked up in.Organize your apps so that the biggest time wasters are harder to access or delete them entirely until you’re done with your project. Be sure to turn on silent hours (or manually turn off the ringer and notifications) while you’re on the clock, too.
- Watch the Computer: If your work involves being on the computer, that can be even more dangerous than being on your phone. Avoid browsing social media or checking your email if you don’t have work-related reasons to.Stay away from browser games, don’t launch any non-work programs and make sure that all of your web searches are task-related. There are browser extensions and other software that you can install to help you stay on task while at work if you find yourself having problems.
- Plan Ahead: Don’t just head into things with a general idea of what needs to be done. If you really want to be productive, take the time to determine exactly what you want to do and what you’ll need to get that done.This doesn’t have to be a big convoluted plan, but you do need to decide what your overall goal is and what milestones you’ll hit on the way to accomplishing it. Defining your goal and breaking it down into smaller steps gives you a clear roadmap to getting things done.
- Make Lots of Lists: Writing things down helps you to remember them and also keeps you organized. Make realistic lists of the things you want to accomplish, keeping the lists accessible so you can check off items as you get them done.Ideally, you should have three lists: One for your immediate goals, one for short-term goals beyond your current task and one for long-term goals. Once you finish your immediate list, make a new list of what you’ll need to tackle the next step in your project. This helps you to not only see your progress through the lists but also keeps you on track since you’ll know exactly what you need to do.
- Take Reasonable Breaks: It’s hard to stay focused sometimes, especially if you’re making an active effort to avoid distractions. Thinking too much about what you need to avoid doing can make you want to do it even more.That’s why it’s important to take breaks, since they give you a chance to break your focus and get your distractions out of the way. Just don’t go overboard with your break time. Spend a good amount of time focused on your goal, then spend a few minutes doing something else.Make sure that you don’t take too many breaks either; spend at least 15 to 20 minutes on-task before grabbing a few minutes of down time, and take no more than two breaks per hour.
- Organize! Clutter is the enemy of productivity, resulting in you spending 10 minutes looking for that one tool or piece of equipment you need to complete five minutes of work.Take the time to organize your workspace, getting as much as possible of you’ll need to complete the task before you start. This goes for files on your computer, too; don’t assume that you’ll be able to search for files quickly once you’re on the job. According to NYC car lease startup Zooomr, organization with new prospective deals helped improve conversions by 5% Organize necessary files into folders and make sure that both the folders and the files themselves have clear and easy-to-understand names for easy access.
- Get to Work: Organizing things and getting ready to work is a great form of procrastination. When you start trying to improve your productivity, make sure that you don’t get lost in the details and spend more time trying to get things perfect than it would take to just do the job. Get your prep done quickly and then get on the task at hand.