6 Fixes to Double Your Productivity

Productivity is today’s secret key to success. We all have 24 hours every day. Yet some of us put those hours to really good use. And it’s what you do in your hours that makes the difference. Try these six fixes to double your productivity.
6 Fixes to Double Your Productivity

Here’s the typical workday

You probably don’t know how much time you waste recovering from unwanted interruptions. Research shows we spend 1-2 hours every day unnecessarily distracted. And it takes 20 minutes to recover from each of those interruptions.  Also, you might not have that many meetings. Or you have already incorporated some productivity hacks.
Take a look at the list of interruptions below. See if it rings any bells.

  • 30 minutes wasted not finding stuff around your office/in your computer
  • half an hour wasted reading irrelevant company emails
  • 30 minutes or more feeling slow post-lunch break
  • half an hour spent in a meeting you didn’t need to be in
  • 30 minutes checking out personal social media stuff & collateral links
  • half an hour wasted trying to do 2 things at once and “sort of” failing because multitasking is a myth
  • 1 hour wasted recovering from unwanted interruptions

It adds up to 4 hours. And that’s a huge deal. 4 hours of your workday are wasted doing nothing. That’s highly ineffective. In some cases, this time can go all the way up to 6 hours. Also notice that we did not count any breaks.
The consequence of being unproductive is that every couple of days your schedule overflows. And that puts an unimaginable strain on you.
Another consequence is that even when you’re not productive, you waste energy. It’s a gear-difference, really. When you’re scrolling through your feed, that’s work to your brain. No different than actual work. Except for one particular way: pleasure. Other than that, it’s still work to your brain. Work without any positive effect.
So here’s a goal for you. Challenge yourself to live up to 8 productive hours every day. And see what you can achieve.

The challenge of productivity

The challenge is simple to understand: achieve more in less time. This will clear your schedule or re-energize you. And who can’t use the extra edge? There are so many things we can do with more time and energy. From having more family time to running a side-business. Or even going for a run, or those extra classes you are curious about. Hobbies, recreation, family, entrepreneurship. We can find many ways to fill our time with.
To achieve more in less time. Either better quality or more quantity or both. It’s not always that we need to do “more” things. Sometimes all we should do is “better” things. After all, a lot of the things you want for yourself happen “between job and sleep”.
If your work is a steady “9 to 5”, you’d love to come out filled with energy and ready for life. If you’re a freelancer or enjoy a flexible schedule, you need superior organizing skills to have more time for yourself. And if you’re an entrepreneur, your productivity affects the lives of others.

Overall, all of us can do better with some extra hours. Or the energy for a fun afternoon. So, here are 6 fixes to double your productivity.

#1 Organize everything you work with

To be productive, waste no time. Sure, some of the time spent not working is useful to you (taking breaks). And some wasted time is beyond your control (interruptions, useless meetings). Sometimes you can’t help but procrastinate, and even that could be OK.
What’s unacceptable is spending 20 minutes trying to find a stapler. And let’s not get started on various documents. Or books or references. Or whatever else it is you might need for your work.
Sometimes it’s computer related. Are you one of those people with 40+ icons on their desktops? That’s what staying organized is about.
Spend 2 hours one day and clear everything up. File stuff, organize stuff. And sort stuff and pile stuff. Also, make sure that everything makes sense. And now all you have to do is maintain it. Takes 5 minutes every day to maintain proper organization. You can waste 30-40 minutes looking for stuff.
Ah, lest we should forget. Templates. It’s amazing how much time you can save with proper templates. From document templates to even printing-profile templates.

#2 Manage interruptions

Interruptions are horrendous killers of productivity. It’s like someone unplugged your computer with no backup save. It takes a while to get back on track with work.
To manage interruptions, you need to shut away as many distractions as possible. Put your phone on silence. Now put it in a drawer.
Make a lovely sign explaining how you’re not to be disturbed. Also, put to sleep all possible alerts and notifications on your computer.
Go ahead and educate coworkers that interruptions are the silent killer of productivity.
Sounds exaggerated? It likely is. There are modern solutions to protect your productivity, while keeping you connected and in sync with your coworkers. One of them is using collaborative teamwork software that knows when you’re trying to be productive and keeps interruptions at bay so that you can get your work done.
There are many more things you can do to manage interruptions.

#3 Schedule everything around breaks

Productivity gravitates around breaks, not the other way around. Breaks allow you to re-energize and can significantly boost your focus. Also, taking time off can help your brain cope. Either with learning something new, or the sheer volume of tasks.
And it’s not like breaks are magical productivity boosters. There is cognitive science at play. Breaks help you regenerate your focus.
Also, communication breaks allow you to reach ‘inside.” While interacting with others, we maintain a persona. And this is particularly true for the American culture. When we are by ourselves, we afford to be “out of character”.
Our true self stays guarded under a veil of amicability. Taking breaks from communication redirects some energy to other things. Either to ourselves, or to some tasks we’ve been worrying about.
There’s more to this approach.
You can be more productivity by ensuring that your overall energy levels are high. So schedule your toughest tasks soon after consistent, positive breaks. And leave your less demanding tasks soon before a break.
Even better, start by scheduling those times where you can have an energetic break from work. And simply block them out of your calendar.

#4 Strip away the unessential web procrastination

What you don’t need doesn’t help you. And it’s not just that your workspace is too cluttered. Nor is it that your whole schedule is random.
While at work, one thing you don’t need is wasting time on social networking. Scrolling through the feed. Before you know it, you’ve just binge-read 10 funny articles. And funny articles are not keeping you productive. Quite the opposite. They kill your productivity.
The solution to this is simple. Cut away your internet time. Shocked? Cannot imagine living in a world without the internet? It’s essential to your work? Fine. Then simply use precisely what you need for your work.
You can use various tools to selectively limit internet access. You can block your own access to Facebook on a schedule. And you can extend this to a whole list of other time-wasters. The new procrastination trend is to spend time on LinkedIn. And clearly checking up former classmates won’t take you further in life.
Granted, if you’re a digital marketer that needs to spend a lot of time on Facebook, fine. Nobody that has to likes to. Even so, beware of social media. Because it’s eating your life away. One day at a time. And turns your productivity into nothing.
Overall, we spend time on social media and other similar places with one purpose. To numb ourselves away from tedious work. Others watch 7 hours of salmon fishing pretending it’s relaxing.
One way or another, procrastination is an enemy in disguise. Even though some of it may be good for you, you should be the one in control.
So go ahead and install those blockers and controllers and regain some composure. After a while, you won’t need them. All you’ll need is a bit of willpower. And figuring out how to focus.

#5 Focus on one things at the time

Multitasking is a myth. Nobody’s good at multitasking. Sure, you can ride a bike to work and talk on the phone. But it takes practice.
Some things are easy to automatize. Others are not. And most things worth doing require your attention. Focusing at work is very important.
Imagine 2 activities, A and B. The first takes 40 minutes, the second takes 60 minutes. Doing them at the same time will take a lot more than 100 minutes. However, you will entertain the illusion of being efficient.
The best thing to focus on is the one you’ve already started focusing on. Better yet, organize your day with the help of focus-nuggets:

  • 25 minute intense focus task
  • 5 minute activity break  AND
  • 25 minute intense focus task
  • 5 minute activity break AND
  • 25 minute intense focus task
  • 5 minute activity break AND
  • 25 minute intense focus task
  • take 25 minutes of a break AND
  • take 10 minutes to plan your next segment of productivity.

That’s 2.5 hours in which you’ll achieve a lot. And your workday has just started. This is the recipe for productivity.
Repeat for another 2.5, lunch break included. You’ve likely finished half of the work you would have otherwise done this week. All in half a day. And half a day to spare.
Use those 5 minutes breaks to meditate. Or go get a coffee. Use the 25 minute break to take a small walk. Perhaps have some conversation in the printer room.
You don’t have to make them 25 minutes long. You can make them as long as you need. Here’s how:

  1. Determine how long it takes you, on average, to lose your focus.
  2. Divide that time by 5 and determine the length of your break.
  3. Organize your workday in “focus-break-focus-break-focus-break.”

#6 Cut meetings in half

Meetings are a modern challenge. And not because they make introverts feel awkward. A lot of people sort of hate meetings. Many times, those meetings could’ve been avoided. Hence, the challenge. Limiting or improving meetings are imperative.
Here are three easy ways to get better with meetings:

  1. Reduce the whole number of meetings by 25%. Ask yourself why you want to do that meeting. What is it that you need from that meeting. Is it really that necessary? Can’t you just fit that meeting somewhere else? We often set meetings to cover things we could’ve worked on prior to the meeting.
  2. Reduce the length of meetings by 25%. That saves you countless hours every year. A huge boost in productivity. Simply spend less time in meetings. And that’s it. What fits in 2 hours can also fit in one hour and a half. What fits in one hour fits in 45 minutes. This can go on. If you’re an effective communicator, you can easily snap your meetings in half. Even 8 minutes are good enough for a well-prepared meeting. Ask any debating team how long it takes to prepare an impromptu case.
  3. Turn meetings into working-sessions. As in meetings in which you do actual work. Don’t just schedule a talk. Schedule a working-session. For some reason, meetings are nothing but scheduled team-procrastination sessions. It’s like you’ve done most of the work for today. Also, meetings should be purposeful. You should always try and only add value to meetings. Bring people together and have them working on something. Zooming focus. No excuses. And no interruptions. Seriously, give it a try. Go ahead and say “Team, let us focus on this particular issue for 30 minutes”. It works wonders.

Your takeaway

With productivity, the challenge is real. We already covered some issues with staying productive, and even proposed some fixes. Yet, many issues remain. Firstly, just how much of any workday goes away too quickly. Secondly, how there is always more that you want to do. Lastly, how tough it is to combat distractions and focus. It’s mostly up to you and your determination, right?
I’d be happy to learn from your experience, so feel free to share in the comment fields below.

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