Essential productivity tips and techniques you should know (Updated)
Table of contents
Time is the most valuable resource that we have on this planet and you are the only person who is in charge of this precious asset. In this blog post, we will explore productivity tips and methods to prioritize tasks, manage time effectively to help you make life easier and happier.
Becoming a productive person is a journey that will take time and effort to master. You'll have good days and bad days, but productivity can be improved with the following tips:
- Goals are the key. Having clear goals in mind, you can focus on taking action that will move you towards.
- Don't multitask. You are most productive when you are focusing on one activity at a time, instead of trying to multitask and do many things at once. You can implement the blocking system technique together with the Pomodoro system.
- Focus on what you're doing with 100% concentration. Eliminate distractions/interruptions. Block websites, social media sites, skip chit-chats.
- Set priorities. Focus on activities that help you get the best results. Make sure it's something that will make a difference in your life and the lives of others. Avoid wasting time doing things that are not important.
- Be responsible for everything that needs to be done. Stop blaming others and looking for a scapegoat, take ownership of the problem and start taking action to solve it. You'll become more productive when you stop complaining about how someone else isn't getting their work done in time or how they are messing you up.
- Set deadlines. Giving yourself a deadline will help you get things done in time, and avoid procrastination.
- Batch tasks like answering emails, paying all bills/invoices at once.
- Make sure you get enough sleep and nutrition to stay healthy.
- Excercise. Your mind and body need to be kept in good shape. A regular workout will boost your natural energy by releasing more endorphins and other hormones in the brain. When people exercise more, they tend to make better decisions, sell more products, and have higher self-esteem.
- Be assertive. Say no when people ask you to do something that is not important or won't benefit you (within reason).
- Be flexible. If your plan/schedule doesn't work for you, don't be afraid to make changes and experiment until activities become enjoyable and beneficial.
- Separate work time from non-work time. Take regular breaks for a change of pace and use productivity techniques such as mindfulness and meditation.
- Take time to master skills. Once you become an expert in something, your performance will go up.
- Learn how to delegate tasks effectively.
- Automate things, such as paying bills or posting on social media.
- Eliminate unimportant tasks, focus on what will have an impact on your life.
- Divide your day into blocks of time. Make sure to take regular breaks to let productivity relax and recharge, and try taking a step back. Work for about an hour, and then take a five- or ten-minute break to do something else. You'll be more productive when you get back to essential work.
- Assign achievable goals.
- Make a to-do list. You can use a piece of paper or popular online tools like Asana (my favorite tool that I have been using for several years), Remember the Milk, or Trello.
- Avoid procrastination. Procrastination is one of the most common productivity problems. We all procrastinate. It is part of human nature to avoid an unpleasant activity, even though it's the right thing to do (like doing our taxes). Procrastination plays a key factor here, study shows that procrastination can decrease productivity by 90%-97%.
- Know how to manage your time well in advance. Plan or make a schedule of what you want or need to do. Ex. you can plan an entire week on Sunday.
- Plan your time effectively using techniques such as prioritizing and time management methods like the Eisenhower matrix and Pareto method.
- Reward yourself when you've completed your tasks to boost motivation. Plan something you would enjoy doing as a reward for getting the work done, such as going out with friends or colleagues after finishing work for the day.
- Focus on activities that will help you reach your goals. For example, if the goal is to write a novel, then ignore things that distract you from writing, like watching TV or chatting with friends online.
- Enjoy life and take time to do what you like. Take time off, relax. This will help productivity stay high as your stress levels will also be lower.
- Write a journal.
- Use productivity apps like Pomodoro timer.
Keeping productivity high will translate to higher income and an increased standard of living over time. Time is one of our most precious resources that are limited.
The workplace requires productivity more than ever. It has become a battlefield for work optimizers who use their time efficiently to achieve maximum results and make the most out of it. We all want to get as much work done as possible in a limited time because we're being paid to do it.
Where is the place for productivity in your personal life? If you say "I simply don't have time", then productivity is what you need. We need effective time management dramatically, the sooner you start, the better. We want to move our carrier at work, but we also have many other things in life that need attention – like family or hobbies. It's hard to keep a work-life balanced life nowadays because we spend so much time at work.
There are many popular and proven methods that can be used as a system to improve your skills and efficiency in every area of life such as work, hobbies, relationships, financials, etc. Whether you are a busy mom, busy executive, or freelancer, hopefully, you will benefit from the below list. Let's go through the best productivity techniques worth knowing about.
The Eisenhower matrix is an effective task management system that was created by Dwight D. Eisenhower. This framework enables us to effectively prioritize our tasks without starting too many projects at once and ending up not completing anything. The idea behind this productivity technique is to prioritize things on a 2x2 matrix, so we don't waste time doing the wrong things.
The story behind the Eisenhower matrix framework is very interesting.
Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 to 1961, leading his country during the height of the Cold War, and the Korean War.
During WWII Eisenhower's duties included planning invasions of North Africa and France. "Ike" described this time as "a difficult, frustrating, but at least well-defined task." Eisenhower was a 5 star general during WWII and was promoted to Allied Forces for Europe commander under General George Marshall in 1944. His responsibilities were to oversee preparations for Operation Overlord - the invasion of Normandy on D-Day or June 6th, 1944.
Eisenhower formed this productivity method based on challenges he faced during WWII. The war was over in Europe, but they still had to finish the job. During the time Eisenhower was making all these plans he realized that day-to-day productivity was greatly affected by how well he planned his time. He needed a way for managers and himself to prioritize work so productivity could be improved upon.
Eisenhower decision matrix splits tasks into 4 quadrants:
Urgent and important (Do it now)
Priority tasks need to be done immediately and effectively because they are essential for the organization or person to function well (e.g., meeting with clients or scheduling a doctor's appointment).
Examples of tasks that should be done now:
- Take a sick child to the hospital
- Respond to pissed off Client
- Fix critical website issue
Not urgent and important (Schedule)
This time can be spent on tasks that are not time-sensitive but are impactful.
Examples of tasks that can be scheduled:
- Paying monthly bills
- Checking your social media accounts
- Replying to not urgent text messages
- Gym exercises
Urgent but not important (Delegate)
Tasks that need to be done within a certain time frame but aren't significant enough to warrant immediate attention. These tasks can be done later because they are not time-sensitive.
Examples of tasks that should be Delegated:
- Research on a product
- Home repair, painting
Not urgent and unimportant (Delete)
Not urgent and unimportant tasks should be deleted. They are insignificant and should be removed from our to-do list.
Examples of tasks that should be eliminated:
- Playing video games.
- Watching the news on TV
- Chit-chat about politics
Eisenhower's decision matrix technique is vital when there are tons of things that need to get done at the same time, as it will help you prioritize what needs to be done first and what can wait.
Below is a productivity chart that lists the Eisenhower matrix in detail:
Here's how to use the Eisenhower technique:
1. Write down all of your tasks on a piece of paper or a favorite cloud system like Asana, Trello, etc.
2. Put each task in one of 4 columns, based on whether it is Urgent and Important or Not urgent but important, or Not Urgent but Important, or Not important.
3. Deal with each of the tasks according to their category.
The Pareto Principle is named after the economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that in all of Italy there was a disproportionate allocation of various types of land with 20% of the country's total area owned by only 3% of its population. This relationship led to what would become known as "Pareto's Law."
The Pareto Principle approaches productivity from a different angle. It's based on the idea that 80% of the results come from 20% of the actions taken. (I've heard it's actually closer to 90% and 10%, but the important part is that it's the minority of actions/tasks that contribute the majority of results.)
Once you identify which tasks are responsible for 80% of your results, techniques like the Eisenhower productivity matrix can help you focus on those tasks so you don't end up doing things that aren't important.
Using both the Pareto method and the Eisenhower productivity matrix enables us to finish important things without starting too many projects at a time and ending up not completing anything.
Below is a chart that illustrates the idea:
The Pareto method can be summed up with these two simple tips:
- Identify which tasks/projects produce the best results and focus on completing those first
- Complete one task before starting another. Otherwise, you end up spreading your time around too many different things.
The ABCDE prioritizing method is similar to the Eisenhower productivity matrix in that it ranks tasks based on urgency and importance. ABCDE prioritizing method stands for dividing things into 5 categories: A, B, C, D, and E.
Here's how to use the ABCDE prioritizing method:
A - The most important task, activity, or item. It should be done right away because it will have a big impact on the main goals if it is completed. For instance, sending out an invoice, analyzing data, having a meeting with your partner, and updating the website on time
B - Tasks that are not as important nor urgent but need to get done within the time frame given. (email, responding to clients, and phone calls you received today)
C - Lowest priority tasks not urgent nor important that can be done at a later time or not at all. Tasks can be delegated to someone else or put off until later in the day when productivity is high again
D - Later or Maybe tasks that we don't need to do and may not even want to do but maybe useful if done.
E - Tasks that need to be eliminated and forgotten. They should not be done at all as they do not contribute to productivity and waste your time. These productivity activities have no urgency or value, like watching TV or playing on social media websites like Facebook and Instagram
When you use the ABCDE prioritizing method, it will take some time to get used to because you're looking at your day from a new perspective. Things get much simpler because you know what your most important tasks are for any given day
However, If you're not a fan of the ABCDE technique, then there are other methods as well.
Another popular method that works is the time blocking productivity system. You should block off time in advance for anything that you want to complete so that it doesn't get pushed back until later during the day or even another day.
How to use the blocking productivity system:
1) Write down all the tasks that need to be completed (make sure they're in priority order using techniques mentioned above.)
2) Group tasks into blocks, each block should be within the appropriate time frame
The method that supports time blocking productivity system is the Pomodoro technique. To use the Pomodoro technique, you set a timer for 25 minutes then work on one task until the time is up. You take a 5-minute break and repeat this process another 4 times.
Being productive can be challenging because it involves a complex process of human behavior and cognition. You need to practice and build a system. Productivity is like a muscle it has to be exercised regularly and consistently to improve.
People can be incredibly effective while leading a balanced life that is not entirely work-oriented. In the end, productivity is about doing things in your best interest to make sure you are happy and fulfilled. If the current system does not work for you then try to find a different technique and stick to it.
Let me know if the above tips and methods have been helpful in increasing your productivity or not. If you have any thoughts about this article please feel free to leave a comment below!