How many times have you done it? You’ve started the day with a wish list of tasks and failed to complete even a quarter.
You need to be realistic in your expectations. But you also need to maximise every minute of your working day, and think creatively about ways to increase your productivity.
Here are a few tried and tested strategies to help you push your day to the max.
Yes, it’s over-rated. Studies show that up to 40% of productivity is lost through multi-tasking. That’s partly because it’s not really multi-tasking at all, but task switching. If you think about it, you’re not actually texting, emailing, booking a restaurant and finalising that report all at the same time. If you were, you’d need at least four pairs of hands, and several brains. You’re chopping and changing between all four tasks, kidding yourself that you’re doing a super-efficient job.
In reality, you’re constantly interrupting your train of thought and increasing the chance of making errors. So concentrate on single tasking, giving full focus to the task in hand before moving on to the next.
If you’re moving back to single tasking, you need to make sure you’re concentrating on the right task in the right order. Plan your day so urgent and essential jobs get completed before you move on to lesser tasks. Delegate where possible, and move jobs that can wait to a later time or day in your diary.
Unless you are a chronic night owl – in which case your business will have been showing signs of strain for ages – it’s advisable to get the most challenging tasks completed early in the day.
Optimum performance level is generally achieved during the morning. In addition, completion of those difficult tasks frees up the rest of your work day, allowing you to get the most out of it. You’re also able to follow up those jobs on the same day if necessary.
Don’t zoom through the day on turbo charge, only to collapse at the end like a marathon runner at the finishing line.
The guys at DeskTime did a study showing that the most productive 10% of employees worked for about 52 minutes then took a break for 17.
Some of those employees didn’t even work an eight-hour day, proving that the important thing is working smarter, not longer.
The brain is a muscle which needs rest after spells of exertion. That way, it recovers fully and fires on all cylinders when needed.
If you switch to the cloud, you can plan your day around important customers, essential tasks and priority jobs, rather than being tied to a physical workspace containing old technology like desktop computers and fax machines.
Get mobile, accessing your files and documents via smartphone or tablet while you’re on the move. Try online faxing through a company like mBox, offering unlimited cloud storage of all sent and received faxes, along with full access wherever you happen to be in the world.
Eliminate the need to bob back to the office several times a day – you carry your virtual office wherever you go with all documents accessible via mobile phone.
To go virtual, you need up-to-date devices and smart technology. Make sure your smartphone, tablet or laptop is offering you the full range of digital functions, so maximising the potential of every week, day, hour and even minute.
There are no magic solutions when it comes to boosting your personal productivity. It comes down to a good, hard look at your working habits, and a genuine willingness to ring in the changes.