How to increase productivity?

That seems to be what it’s all about nowadays as more and more priorities compete for our attention. The advent of technology has resulted in an exponential increase in the constant barrage of information, requests, queries, updates, action items and to do’s flying at us via our smartphones, laptops, tablets and other devices.

Often, it seems like we need more than 24 hours in a day to get it all done… more like 35 maybe!
But the reality is, that there are only 24 hours in a day; no one has yet invented a way to increase this number. And so the challenge for everyone on this planet, rich or poor, old or young, is to get everything one needs to do, done within the time available.

How to achieve this?

By being super-productive! No, you do not need to become a super-hero like Spiderman, Batman or Iron Man! 🙂

You just need to be more efficient with your time and more focused with your attention, with a view to achieving more in the same amount of time.

Here are some tips to improve your overall productivity and output.

1. Wake up earlier.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but the worlds’ most productive people really do seem to wake up earlier than the rest of us. Super-productive heavyweights lead Fortune 500 companies and other large institutions, tend to be amongst the few that rise between 4.00am and 5.00am daily (regardless of what time they go to bed).

However, unless you are a natural short sleeper, don’t try the sleep deprivation trick at home. Instead, try going to bed a little earlier, to allow you to wake up earlier while getting your required number of hours’ sleep.

2. Effectively manage distractions and procrastination.
It’s like a chicken-and-egg situation. Distractions cause procrastination. Procrastination makes you look for distraction. Basic bottom line is, stop surfing endless online news portals, updating your status on Facebook, scrolling through Twitter and pinning on Pinterest, and simply get down to the task at hand and get the work done.

In fact, the best thing to do is to shut down non-essential programmes on your laptop and ignore emails, phone calls etc, until you have completed the task that you have set for yourself.

3. Plan your day.
Spend the first half an hour of your workday defining clear goals for what you want to achieve, which projects you need to work on, which teams you need to interface with and which tasks t need to get done, in order of priority. Also divide your day into corresponding time blocks to tackle each task. Of course, the workday rarely progresses in an orderly manner.

Out of the blue, an emergency could erupt or a string of unscheduled meetings and projects could hit you. No problem – simply move the tasks not done from today’s list, to tomorrow’s. This way, no task gets left behind – you will have to get it done eventually, or it will keep showing up on your list until you do.

4. Schedule regular breaks.
Break up your day into intervals and schedule breaks in between every task. During your break, get up from your desk, walk around the office or go down for a breath of fresh air, head to the pantry for a coffee, or have an informal chat with colleagues that you might meet along the way.

Not only is constant, scheduled physical movement good for your posture and health, but positive interactions with co-workers help to expand your network within the office. Taking strategic breaks also helps to re-focus and re-energise you after a period of intense work.

5. Multitask and single task strategically.
Yes, the myth of multitasking has been debunked in a variety of research findings worldwide. It has now been proven and accepted that the human brain is not really capable of focusing on more than one thing at one time.

So our attempts all this while to simultaneously talk on the phone, compose emails, scroll through a social networking page, write a memo and type up the report that’s due in 1 hour, have basically caused us to waste far more time than if we had focused on just one task at a time. To really focus, and complete a complex assignment within a specified timeframe, there can be no multitasking. Having said that however, not all tasks require complete focus.

For example, multitasking can come in very handy in increasing productivity, if you combine tasks that do not require 100% focus; such as when you read a magazine while running on a treadmill.

6. Be passionate about what you do. Passion drives superproductivity.
OK, so this is easier said than done. Surely it’s easier to feel really “passionate” about saving peoples’ lives or saving the environment, but not your day to day job looking at tedious spreadsheets full of numbers and doing boring paperwork?

But instead of taking that approach, what if we were able to link each and every task that we do each day, to something more meaningful than just the tasks themselves? Perhaps, the mundane tasks that we do at our level, help our companies market their products and services more effectively, attract more market share, create more jobs for people, and allow a larger percentage of profit to be chaneled back into CSR activities?

Let’s look beyond what is right before us, and seek ways to infuse meaning and passion into everything that we do in order to boost our own productivity.

This is your life – so push yourself to achieve more by aiming for super-productivity in all aspects of your life. Yes, you can achieve more, do more and be more, using the right strategies.


Personal finance author and trainer

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