Almost everyone wants to increase productivity, but not many reach the levels of productivity they desire. Interestingly productivity has been the subject of study for years by multiple thinkers, and psychologists.
The definition of productivity is subjective, and to understand this let’s understand what is productivity through some examples:
- For an entrepreneur the definition of productivity would be a better delegation, i.e more meetings, whereas for an intern to get more done they need to be in fewer meetings – In this scenario, we note that the definition of productivity is dependent on multiple factors
- For a copywriter, productivity means they are able to write copies that get approved. But writing copies sometimes can be extremely time-consuming, hence the measure of productivity, in this case, isn’t right.
Instead, if the copywriter focuses on ensuring that they write 10 copies in 30 mins, the ballgame changes, and they might just be able to replicate this process 10 times to generate 100 copies, and statistically speaking – 1 of these 100 may just be accepted.
In both the above cases, we notice that the person in the play is more productive only when they have a clear idea of their “WHY” of wanting to be productive.
A Step-by-step Guide to Increase Productivity
Here’s a step-by-step guide that can help you to Increase your Productivity.
1. Track Your Habits & the Time You Spend On Them
In moments when we feel unproductive, we often rely on our emotions and come up with conclusive statements such as – “I am not productive enough”, “I wasted my day”, “Tomorrow will be better”, etc.
In moments such as these, the ball-game changes if we have a tracker that’s handy that gives you insights on how much time you spent, and where you spent it.
- 25 mins in the shower – Not a good sign – Can be reduced, Saves water and time
- 90 mins on Instagram – Need to cut down this to spend more time on work
- 10 mins reading the book – Can dedicate more time to learning
Tracking whatever you do is a great hack to know where you are spending your time the most, and the insights can help you plan and dedicate your energies and time so much better.
2. Slot and Dedicate Time for Every Task You Do
“Nitin is a freelance writer, and every Sunday morning he has allocated 40 mins to write a 1200 word newsletter for his subscribers. He starts writing at 8 am, and usually gets done by 9”
“Anita is an entrepreneur, and lately she’s started working on her YouTube channel for which she has slotted 30 mins every day to script, and practice her craft”
Slotting a dedicated time, and duration to any task is a great way to ensure accountability and pave way for the mind to prepare for the task at hand. In the above cases, we notice that Nitin and Anita have slotted a particular time for their craft every day with a dedicated task at hand. This allows them to work distraction-free only on the task planned.
Let’s take Parkinson’s law to better understand this situation –
Parkinson’s law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”
By assigning the right amount of time to a task, we gain back more time, and the task will reduce in complexity to its natural state.
The idea to introduce Parkinson’s law was to “Run against the clock” where you dedicate a certain time to the tasks you have to do, and challenge yourself to finish it in half of the stipulated time-limit.
Believe me or not, but this hack can save you a lot of time, and make you feel super productive.
3. Eat the Frog Technique
This concept of “Eat the Frog” was first pointed out by the legendary – Mark Twain. Eat The Frog is the technique of work where an individual focuses on doing the most difficult task first thing in the morning.
- Struggles with procrastination
- Gets a lot done but isn’t making progress on the important stuff
- Has a hard time sticking to a productivity system
- Has trouble deciding what to work on at any given time
- Feels overwhelmed by their to-do list
More often than not, humans tend to procrastinate and push the task they dread to later dates, and with time the psychological burden of finishing that task starts mounting which makes it even more difficult to complete the task.
The “Eat the Frog” technique is one of the popular ways to get work done and release the stress of feeling unproductive.
4. Review, And Plan Your Work
Businesses of all sizes and forms review their performances on a quarterly and annual basis. If businesses review their work, why shouldn’t individuals who strive to improve their productivity and performance?
Many entrepreneurs and paragons of grit have shared how they take out time to review their work, and based on what they learn from the plan further. Reviewing your work provides statistical data which is a better performance indicator than relying on our emotions.
Some good examples of metrics to measure while you’re trying to review your performance over the week or month is as follows –
- Goals set vs Goals Met
- Time is taken to complete tasks vs Stipulated time
- Time spent in doing unproductive things – Scrolling Social media, procrastination, etc
- Habits – Good, and Bad
Pro-tip – Maintaining a journal is a great way to keep track of all non-numerical data such as our emotions, and this allows us to review our performance better ultimately contributing towards better productivity.
5. Learning To Forgive Ourselves
A lot of times we are too hard on ourselves, and that leads to a never-ending vicious cycle where we are constantly thinking about doing better the next time, but fall into the same trap of procrastinating our way out.
Being too hard on ourselves often leads to burnout, which isn’t good for you and your work, and our final suggestion to you is to pat yourself on the back, and remind yourself that life is a marathon, and not a sprint.
Humans often overestimate what they can do in a day, and underestimate how much can be achieved in a year.
Bonus – Delegating work, and Hiring Experts
One of the biggest challenges people face is their inability to delegate work. One should focus only on the tasks that are core to their competence, and skill, and let the other tasks be either automated or delegated.
Let’s take some examples to better understand this –
- A YouTube creator will hire a Web Developer to make a website instead of spending their time on creating the website themselves
- A baker will focus their attention and efforts on baking instead of learning to design and then make their logo. The best way to get the work done is by hiring a logo designer.
One might wonder if it’s a good idea to spend money when they can do certain things on their own, and the honest answer to that question is – “Yes”.
If we delegate a task effectively, we might be losing money in the short run, but the returns on that investment will be exponentially more.
One yearns to be productive, but we often measure our productivity on a daily basis. What if we can evolve the narrative and push it to measure it for a longer duration? Our ability to do so will allow us to explore the benefits of compounding which is rightly referred to as the “8th Wonder by Albert Einstein”.
Here are some other hacks that can help you stay productive over the day –
- Plenty of sleep – Most exploited, people often
- Physical Exercise – Running, Yoga, Sports, Gym, Zumba, anything that makes your body move and groove is extremely good for our mental health. Our body releases a lot of feel-good hormones that allow us to focus better
- Dedicated workspace – With a lot of people going remote, many have a hard time adjusting to the non-office environment. In such cases, it’s best to have a dedicated space meant only for work
- Keeping your electronic devices away – In stages where you are struggling to focus, continuous notifications can be another factor that takes your attention away.
- When you get tired, rest, don’t Quit.
Hetvi works as a Product Associate at Refrens.com – India’s most powerful platform for freelancer’s finances and growth. She has worked for some renowned companies as a Brand