'If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.'
- Bruce Lee
One of the most common requests we get during our one-on-one business coaching sessions is “How can I be more productive at work”. The conversation that follows often starts with Clients sharing how many things they have on their to-do-list and their desire to get more things ticked off during their days. However, they’re often shocked by our response that in order to increase increasing productivity, they need to learn to check off the right things rather than every single on their list.
Identify your motivations.
Improving your focus on a task starts by establishing what it is that’s driving your desire to be productive, so before you start a task always ask yourself “What am I doing this for?” It’s pointless to strive for productivity without knowing the intention and the desired outcome.
- Set aside time to plan. People often forget to leave time to plan but it’s important to give yourself time to think about your goals or to explore what you hope to get out of a project.
Prioritising not multitasking.
When you envisage yourself being productive you often see yourself working flat out, ticking multiple things off your to do list. During our one-to-one coaching sessions we actually encourage our clients to do less. If we are more intentional with our actions, we are more likely to spend our time working on meaningful goals, for example by doing fewer things, you can do the things that move you forward much faster.
Multitasking is the quickest way to burn out, so instead of trying to do everything at once, be methodical about your to-do list.
- Prioritize tasks. When you’re planning your day, identify three top tasks which you’d like to accomplish. If you complete all 3 tasks in your day then you can always move on to the rest of your to do list.
Block off your time to stay focused.
To ensure you stay productive map out your recurring, short-term and long-term priorities, as well as how long you think each task will take, especially if your job involves spinning lots of plates. Impromptu meetings and other interruptions from colleagues will distract you from your task, so establish boundaries by blocking out your calendar & setting your availability status as busy where possible.
- As well as blocking the time to work on your task, set the scene. Give yourself the best chance to succeed. If you set aside an hour to work on a project, get a snack beforehand, put your phone away and take care of all possible distractions.
Understand your work pace.
Understanding what type of worker you are will help you to better achieve your goals. So ask yourself, are you a Marathoner or a Sprinter? Marathoners are good at working at a steady pace throughout the day. Sprinters tend to be pressed for time so their work is done in shorter spurts.
If you’re a marathoner: Pace yourself. Start the day with full energy and keep your schedule in mind. If you have an afternoon full of meetings, consider a later start so you will have enough energy.
If you’re a sprinter: Know what you need to accomplish. Sprinters often have short periods to accomplish their goals so keep in mind what you need to achieve during the allocated time.
Say no to procrastination.
Procrastination often stems from fear of failure or if you’re unsure how to complete a task you don’t understand. When you’re about to start working on a long-term project you’ll often stall by completing a small, insignificant task as it gives instant gratification, and a feeling of accomplishment. Set yourself up for success by prioritising and planning ahead so that you have time for each of these tasks.
- If you have a big, long-term project that you’ve been putting off, combat procrastination by breaking the activity down into smaller actions that will give you that instant gratification that you need.