Foolproof Tricks To Staying Productive

by Lyena Solomon August 10th, 2011 

productive

It is the middle of the night. You are still working with no visible light in the end of the tunnel. You are tired and angry. Angry at your job that took over your life; angry at your boss who keeps piling projects on your plate; angry at yourself because you missed your kid's soccer practice, again.

Unfortunately, too many of us are familiar with the feeling. Too often we wish we were doing something else. We hope that as soon as this project is over or that work emergency is dealt with, your productive and fulfilling life will begin. What we seldom realize is, that today and now is our life and we are the only ones who can make it better.

Having been a student of productivity for several years, I would like to share with you tips that help me advance at work and have a personal life. Your quest for life and work balance might require personalization, but the principles are the same.

Tricks To Being Productive

Stop, reflect, evaluate. The first step to a productive life is stop everything you are doing, step back and look from afar at your work load. You have been in reactive mode way to long and lost perspective. Examine your goals, your priorities. Is everything on the right course moving towards the desired outcome? Is it still the result you want? Look back at what you have accomplished and how it all fits in the big picture. Define what is left to be done to complete each project.

Clean up the clutter. Look around yourself. Is your work environment helping you to be productive? Is your office organized? Can you find everything you need when you need it? Get rid of the noise and distractions. That includes human distractions – friends that suck the life force out of you, co-workers that constantly waste your time, people who are always late. Say "no" to these distractions too and keep company with people who value your time.

Improve process. If your ship is on the right course, ask yourself, can you get there faster? Too often people follow the same process for too long, not comprehending anymore the purpose of each step. Zoom in on your processes, examine the steps, find improvements, discover ways to be more efficient.

Delegate. That's right – you are not the only person who can do that task. It is likely, there are people who can do that task better than you. But you wouldn't know who those people are until you start delegating, would you? Many tasks just need to be done. Give other people an opportunity to impress you while you stick to what you do best. While you are at it, outsource tasks you hate to do.

Track time. Tracking time is a chore, I know. But without it, how would you know how you spend the time? Use time tracking to find tasks that would be cheaper to outsource. Next, put time limits on your tasks and stick to them. No need to be a perfectionist. It may surprise you, that with time constraints your brain will force you to be more efficient.

Develop routines. Routines are the well-known secret of productivity. Yet, many people overlook it. First routine you have to develop is your day reviews at the end of the work day and first thing in the morning the day of. Your day roadmap will help you stay on course and avoid surprises. Second, develop routines for reoccurring tasks – phone calls, email, social media, etc. Set times when you check your email, engage in social media, read new articles, return phone calls. Eventually, these activities will become welcome breaks from analytical tasks boosting your productivity. Do your most important tasks when you are most productive.

Eliminate interruptions. Stop your multitasking and try focusing on one project at time. Cut out all distractions. Plan chunks of 40-60 minutes for project work. Don't you see – the reason you stay up so late is because there are less distractions when everyone is asleep. If necessary (and possible), switch to a vampire schedule for a short while to catch up on all your tasks. You do not have to be dead to the world forever. Schedule social media breaks and you will feel a part of the community.

Take a break. This one is a must. You are no good to anyone if you are tired, sleep deprived and distracted. Take a walk or stairs. Better yet, exercise every day: play basketball with your kid or go bike riding; swim some laps or go rock climbing. Whatever rocks your boat – make it a routine. It is good for your health, for your memory, and for your energy level. Set a hard boundary between work and personal life: no work calls or email after hours. And don't forget to take vacations. The world will not stop without you. I promise.

Get a productivity buddy. This one is simple: find another busy person who is willing to be your productivity buddy. At the beginning of the day, have a short conversation about what you plan to accomplish that day. At the end of the day, report to each other what you managed to accomplish that day. That's it. It is the accountability that will trick your mind and will make you more motivated to complete your to-do list. Maybe, there is a little competition in there too. But hey, whatever does the trick.

Takeaways

When you are stressed at work, when you are resentful and angry, you carry your attitude everywhere you go. It affects not only your work quality but your relationships making everyone around you miserable. Take baby steps or giant leaps to be more productive, but do something to make better use of your time and focus on what's important. Doing something is better than nothing even if it fails. Keep at it and you will be more productive – that's a guarantee.

Learn more about ways to be more productive, understanding your priorities, managing your time better, productivity advice from other people.

"Don't waste your time or time will waste you" – Matthew Bellamy

"Time you enjoy wasting isn't wasted time" — Bertrand Russell

Know what is wasting time and what is not. Being productive does not mean completing the most tasks. It is focusing on what is most important. Fulfill your purpose at work and enjoy your life with your friends and family. Life without balance is a life without enjoyment.

What are your tricks to stay productive? What works for you? Please share.

Lyena Solomon

I am leading the SEO and analytics teams providing strategy and overseeing processes. I facilitate and carry out training and testing latest strategies to improve conversion and revenue. Being a people person, I establish and maintain relationships with vendors and business partnerships.

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2 Responses to “Foolproof Tricks To Staying Productive”

  1. Heba Hosny says:

    Great post, Lyena. You beautifully summed up the roadmap to productivity.
    I love your "productivity buddy" tip in particular. Back in the days, I used to have success buddies where we shared our success goals and met on regular basis to discuss them but I've never thought of having a productivity buddy. Being accountable is always very effective. I will give it a shout and let you know how it works :) .

    As for my productivity tip, I do my best to leverage technology. Sometimes I feel that technology is a mixed blessing as it can be very overwhelming. But I like the automation aspect of it. Any task that can be automated will give me the gift of time.

    Since social media is Garious playground, we always focus on helping our clients save the time they spend on social media by automating monotonous tasks (such as scheduling Tweets and Facebook updates). This way, they become more productive and focus on growing their businesses.

    What are some of the online-time-saving-tools that you use and recommend for your clients to help them boost their productivity? That could be a topic of an entire article I guess :) . Thanks in advance for sharing your valuable tips.

    • Heba,

      I completely agree with you on automation. Having a development background, I always look for ways to automate everything I can – writing a macro, a script, or using APIs. That's why I like routines and processes.

      Tools? It is funny you asked. My next post will be about tools I use. The best tool you have is your brain. Tools make your productivity mindset be more efficient. Stay tuned. Next time I will share my arsenal of secret productivity weapons.

      In the meantime, I have a couple of posts on my blog about tools (social media time-saving tricks). Follow the link to my site in my bio above. Or give me a shout on Twitter (@lyena). I love tools and gadgets. We can compare notes.