Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else - Peter Drucker, management consultant
More recently, many of us have had to adjust - and sometimes reinvent - our work environment, schedules, and habits. With all the changes - however - there are certain things that have remained universally the same. One of these constants are the rules of productivity.
NIMBL reviewed dozens of articles exploring best practices in the art of being productive. While there were many suggestions and guidelines to choose from, we picked out the eight rules on increasing productivity that yielded the best results for our team. So, whether you’ve transitioned back to the office or are still working from home - if your goal is to increase productivity - we submit the list below as something constant in an ever-changing world.
Schedule Your Day the Night Before
The beginning of your day should start the prior evening. Take 30 minutes at the end of each workday to plan and prioritize the next day’s deliverables. Not only will you be able to jump immediately into your to-do lists the next morning but planning out your day the night before has been clinically shown to lower your stress and allow for a better night’s sleep.
Eat the Frog First
Eating the frog means tackling the most daunting task on your to-do list. Of all the tips given in this blog – learning to eat the frog first thing in the morning will increase your productivity the most. It will allow you to focus 100% of your attention on your remaining tasks versus having to worry about its completion should you had chosen to procrastinate.
Employ Time Saving Tools
Whether they be technical or functional, repetitive tasks are a productivity killer. These days companies are able to bring in all levels of technologies to reduce (or even eliminate) wasted time and effort. Team communication tools like Slack allow for instant and easy project collaboration. Task management platforms like Trello help you stay focused and organized. And ERP software like SAP’s S/4HANA streamline all your critical business operations freeing up time for you to focus on growing your company.
Successful batching – or grouping similar tasks together – comes from repetition and diligence. To batch effectively, begin using defined time blocks during the day to ONLY read and return emails, post on social or complete assigned admin tasks. This will eliminate the need to multitask which – a Harvard Business Review study showed leads to “Efficiency [dropping] by as much as 40%.” The key here is persistence – so pick a time window, turn off your phone, toggle over to “do not disturb” and get to it.
Turn Off Notifications
This is easily the most difficult rule at which to adhere. We’ve normalized the disproportionate amount of attention we give to our phones and computer. By doing so, we’ve put ourselves in a constant state of reaction and distraction instead of focusing on the task at hand. When you combine this rule with batching you will be amazed at the levels of productivity you can achieve.
The Pomodoro Technique
Popularized by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, the Pomodoro Technique consists of 25 minute “sprints” of uninterrupted activity followed by a 5-minute break. Four consecutive “Pomodoro’s” are then followed by a full 30-minute break. This exercise requires only three things: a reliable timer, a specific topic on which to focus, and an uncompromising resolve to work for 25 mins straight.. each and every time.
One of the most important things you can do to get more work accomplished is to not work at all. A study published by Forbes in 2018 showed that people who take regular breaks throughout the workday experienced both “lower levels of stress with increased levels of creativity and productivity.” So whether it be a short walk, a quick workout, or a few chapters of your favorite book, make sure you find time to recharge and recalibrate. It will make all the difference.
The benefits of effectively delegating or automating repetitive tasks cannot be overstated. That being said, few who are in a position to take advantage of the opportunity do so because of pride, fear of an inferior product, or the preconceived notion that they’ll spend more time having to supervise the project. The truth is, effective delegating builds trust within your team, aligns everyone on common goals, and – most importantly – allows you to focus on your strongest skill sets. Have faith in your team.
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