According to an Apollo Technical report, the average worker is productive for only 60% or less each day as they get interrupted every three minutes. This points to a clear need to improve productivity skills in order to enhance work efficiency and maximize professional performance. This will also generate a range of organizational benefits for companies and boost growth in multiple ways. However, working on productivity in changing times demands a long-term, flexible approach. With this in mind, this blog takes a deeper look into the key ingredients of productivity and provides tips to boost essential competencies.
1. Time Management
We live in a world where constant work notifications, pending email responses, and app notifications, to name a few, have become the new norm. Consequently, time management is an important strategy in any productivity toolkit and can be broken down as follows:
Prioritization techniques move hand-in-hand with time management. Furthermore, they help tick all the important checkboxes for a given day. These techniques include:
- Most Important Tasks (MIT) Methodology: Choosing three important tasks and finishing any one of them depending on their importance and demand
- Eisenhower Decision Matrix: A great tactic to prevent workplace burnout, involves sorting out to-do lists by arranging them in matrices of importance and urgency
- Ivy-Lee Method: A simple prioritization method insists on planning only six important tasks (not more) and prioritizing them in order of importance
This time management tactic divides and organizes the entire work period into separate blocks.
Accordingly, each block must accomplish new predetermined tasks. As per Cal Newport, author of ‘Deep Work‘, implementing a time-blocked 40-hour work schedule produces the same output as an unstructured 60+ hours work week.
You should practice time blocking as a time management skill if:
- Your workday involves swapping different roles and projects
- A significant part of your work time goes into responding to emails and calls
- You struggle to finish short-term tasks and look at the bigger picture
No matter how productive you are, there is only so much you can achieve before you call it a day. However, delegating tasks to others frees up headspace. Moreover, it boosts inter-team communication and productivity skills, allowing for faster completion of more work.
2. Work Management
Work management strategies, in essence, ensure the completion of all the tasks and programs planned for the day. Here are some popular work-management strategies that can enhance productivity and efficiency:
- Pomodoro Technique: This is based on 20/25-minute distraction-free deep work followed by a five-minute break. Repeat this cycle several times to improve focus and productivity
- The One-Minute Rule: Coined by Gretchen Rubin, this method refers to promptly finishing all those tasks that take less than one minute. It is a great tool to eliminate workspace clutter and mental confusion
- 168 Hours: Used in conjunction with time blocking, this is a comprehensive weekly plan that involves allocating your available 168 hours each week to prioritize tasks, optimize productivity, and achieve effective time management
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3. Focus and Concentration
Efficiency can be measured by the amount of work you complete within carefully allotted time slots. Only consistent focus can ensure this level of productivity. You can achieve better concentration and focus with the help of these strategies.
Eliminating workplace distractions can keep priorities in order; it stops individuals from being swayed by seemingly immediate demands. Here are a few ways to achieve this:
- Have thorough clarity about your day before starting work
- Focus on one small aspect of a larger task and gradually move on to the next step
- Keep visual reminders of your daily goals
- Manage priority chaos with detailed prioritization lists
- Regularly align short-term goals with their long-term counterparts
Additionally, you can tackle your internal distractions by:
- Filtering out what you cannot control
- Practicing guided meditation and mindfulness
Create a Conducive Work Environment
Concentration surges when work environments are positive and respect individuals. Here are some simple ways to create it:
- Improve lighting conditions at the workspace
- Increase comfort quotient by paying attention to cleanliness and workspace hygiene
- Boost employee engagement with frequent company events
- Acknowledge each other’s efforts and express gratitude
- Tackle workplace inefficiencies with patient communication
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Learning to tackle procrastination will enhance focus and concentration, leading to improved productivity skills. Individuals can beat procrastination with an intelligent combination of self-empathy, prioritization, and routine. Let’s explore each of these elements in more detail:
- Self-empathy involves understanding and acknowledging your emotions, thoughts, and behavioral patterns without judgment. It is crucial to recognize that procrastination often stems from underlying factors such as fear of failure, perfectionism, or feeling overwhelmed. Instead of berating yourself for not starting or completing a task, shifting your focus toward understanding your feelings and offering yourself support and encouragement is important.
- Regarding prioritization, the key is identifying the most important tasks and allocating appropriate time and resources to them. One effective strategy to achieve this is creating a to-do list or utilizing a productivity tool to help you organize your tasks based on their urgency and significance. Additionally, it can be quite helpful to prioritize tasks based on their potential impact on your long-term goals.
- You can establish a structured environment promoting productivity by incorporating consistent habits and rituals into your daily or weekly schedule. Having a routine helps reduce decision fatigue and eliminates the constant need to motivate yourself to start a task.
Goal-setting can have a huge positive impact on productivity skills. It involves two important aspects: (a) setting achievable objectives and (b) keeping track of what has been achieved and what’s left to be accomplished. Let’s understand what that entails:
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound (SMART) goals are goal-setting mechanism that brings everyone on the same page. Additionally, they boost the accountability of individuals. Even for self-motivated individuals, SMART goals clarify specific Performance Indicators (PI) and help manage overwhelming task loads. Here are some examples of SMART goals:
- Increase landing page click rates by 40% (Measurable)
- Improve customer interactivity for a specific product by 20% (Achievable small target)
Keep Track of Progress
Tracking progress should primarily answer two questions: What have I done? What still needs to be done? While the first shows progress, the second demonstrates future plans. There are many productivity tools that actively track progress without any manual supervision, allowing you to focus all your energy on delivering the output.
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5. Self-Care and Work-Life Balance
One key productivity skill not directly related to work is learning to unwind, practicing self-preservation, and establishing a strong work-life balance.
Excess stress is a silent killer. It erodes your mental energy and the desire to add meaningful productivity to your life. Here’s how to combat it:
- Establish healthy boundaries within the professional space
- Practice talking about your needs without making anyone else accountable
- Create pre-work rituals to become responsive instead of reactive
- Plan ahead to stay organized
- Prevent multitasking during stressful times
- Reward yourself after finishing all tasks during a stressful day
Knowing when to take breaks is also an important aspect of stress management. They enable you to return to work with greater motivation. These include post-lunch walks, light reading, and finishing some household chores.
Separate Work from Personal Life
Ever since the world migrated to a remote working environment, creating personal life boundaries at work has become more difficult. Here are some tips on how to establish a better work-life balance:
- Minimize technology distractions by putting select messaging groups and work email notifications on silent after work
- Separate devices for professional and personal use
- A dedicated workspace away from your bedroom or other recreational spaces
- Set specific working hours and optimize routine accordingly
To sum up, productivity skills involve building a balanced work-life through time management, organization, and prioritization of goals. Additionally, practicing self-care and working on impediments such as procrastination can maximize mental energy.
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By Bishwadeep Mitra
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