Being productive means not just getting more done, but feeling satisfied at the end of the workday, so you can really enjoy your free time without any niggling guilt.
Sounds ideal, right? Yet many of us still struggle with our productivity. A recent survey revealed the top four ways most employees waste time during work:
- Online Distractions: 60% of online purchases are made during work hours and 65% of Youtube viewers watch between 9am-5pm.
- Meetings: 47% of professionals say their biggest time-waster is having to attend too many meetings. And on top of that, 33 minutes a day are spent scheduling these meetings.
That’s why we have as 6-step process for increasing productivity. In this post, we are going to show you how to take control of your schedule, optimise your environment, and perform at such a high level that your team will be wondering what your secret is.
1. Start your week with organisation.
In the words of Bruce Lee, ‘Preparation for tomorrow is hard work today.
How you start your week will positively or negatively determine how you approach each day. We advise taking 30 minutes on Monday morning to prepare for the week’s tasks and obligations. Use this time to organise the files on your desktop, respond to emails that don’t require a lot of mental energy, evaluate your calendar, and prioritise your tasks.
2. Use your calendar as your guide.
Your calendar is the most important productivity tool at your disposal.
At Kloned, we create a structured timetable that outlines where we can focus our time: using our calendars to block time for meetings, client work, housekeeping and personal development.
A recent article called ‘Millionaires Don’t Use To-Do Lists’ validated this approach. The author Kevin Kruse stated that within his intensive research a patterned emerged with the seriously successful: the ultra-productive don’t work from a to-do list! Instead, they live and work from their calendars.
3. Listen to the right background music.
Optimising your work environment can be a huge accelerator for productivity. One of the most common issues in today’s world is a lack of investment in ergonomics and your working atmosphere.
Productivity can only go so far if you’re pushing your neck muscles and wrists to the limit. Carpal Tunnel is a very real, very aggressive threat to stagnant, uncomfortable employees. That is why you should start by investing in a good office chair, and ensuring that your computer screen is at the right height for you (the top of the monitor should be slightly lower than your resting eye height).
Once you have your foundations set, it’s time to optimise your environment. One of the best ways to do this is with the right background music. Studies show that music offers you a sense of psychological empowerment, which leads to increased effectiveness and productivity. The researchers further found that people who listened to music with a higher tempo, higher bass, and more powerful lyrics were more likely to feel empowered and be more productive.
So rather than listening to melodies and R&B, it might be worth blaring those feel-good Friday tunes through your headphones.
4. Unplug from ongoing distractions.
‘When you cannot do what you have always done, then you only do what matters most.’ – Robert Hales
Unplugging means totally eliminating all of those things that you can’t help but check during the day: turn off your notifications, your friends will not mind having to wait until lunch for you to reply to their GIF of a cat. Notifications have one goal: to capture your attention – train yourself to become resistant to this.
When you’re not feeling productive, or feel like you’ve been working on a task that should have taken less time, it’s usually because you’re allowing distractions to interfere. Whether it’s Snapchat showing up on your phone, a notification on Slack, or a text from a friend, this act of multi-tasking is draining your energy and slowing your productivity.
5. Be intentional with your breaks.
Being productive doesn’t mean being a workaholic. You’re human – you need to take breaks!
In fact, studies have found that our brains have two different states: the ‘focused mode’ within which we’re working hard, and ‘diffuse mode,’ which is our more relaxed mode. You might think that to be the most productive you need to always be in focused mode, however, it’s important to prioritise the diffuse mode also.
Some more complex or tricky problems are solved while in the diffuse mode. That’s why so many people have great ideas whilst in the shower or while daydreaming.
Barbara Oakley, Engineering Professor and author of ‘A Mind for Numbers’, described this concept well in a recent interview with Inquiring Minds. She explained that when you’re focusing, you’re actually blocking your access to the diffuse mode. And the diffuse mode is what you need to be able to solve difficult new problems.
So, in light of that, don’t be afraid to take a lunch break. Don’t be afraid to check out for an hour and go for a run, or take part in a yoga class. Embrace the break – during times like these, you might strike brilliance.
6. Embrace automation and delegation.
One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs is transitioning between doing and leading. It is a point in your business where you need to step away from execution and start delegating tasks.
Entrepreneurs need to remember that delegation isn’t lazy: it is key to efficiency and development. It allows you as the business owner to focus on tasks that are more important, and gives your team the ability to feel empowered and grow their own skills. It allows you to think about the bigger picture, manage complex tasks, and direct your mental energy into things that will translate into a larger and more impactful return.
The first step is finding a group of people you can trust, the second is showing that you trust them. It’s the people you surround yourself with who make the process easier and more successful. Remember: the more you delegate, the more you’ll be able to work on your business, rather than in it.
So there you have it. Six steps to increasing and optimising your productivity at work.
It’s time to take all the insights you’ve gained from your reading and start putting them into action. Schedule your week in advance, embrace your calendar, remove distractions, take breaks, optimise your environment, and delegate tasks to your Klone!