I’ve given many presentations on various aspects of achieving work-life balance, being more productive and getting more done. Sometimes, audience members send me summaries of what they heard, and their summaries are often excellent.
Here are 10 tips on productivity, which I’ve discussed at length over the years, which a single individual sent to me, as brief phrases, in bullet form. The list is so good, that I knew I needed to expand each tip and convert them into this article.
1) Review and prepare your to-do list the night before. When you take this step, you’re better prepared and focused to start the next day. To use the expression, “you hit the skids running” that next morning.
2) Start with the hardest task. When you tackle the hardest task first, before moving to progressively easier tasks, you do yourself a great favor. You get the big one out of the way and everything else seems mild by comparison.
3) Periodically review your to-do list or whatever project roster you maintain. A periodic review enables you to more effectively plan your day and week. Also, mixing easy tasks among hard tasks can help you sail through the day with more energy and focus.
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4) Take strategic breaks throughout the day, even if they’re only 60 seconds in length. Ten one-minute breaks strategically taken will enable you to be more productive than if you work the whole day through without such breaks.
5) Anytime you’re going to have a meeting, establish an agenda. An agenda keeps you on track. It lets all parties know the sequence of topics to be addressed. And an agenda helps in ending the meeting on time.
6) Each time you find yourself vacillating during the day, recall that you are happier when you’re productive, as opposed to not. That alone could help you to start on the next task at hand, or to proceed with the one that’s currently bogging you down.
7) Continually separate the important from the urgent. Urgent tasks are those that scream at us, but in the grand scope of things are not that vital. Important tasks add value to you, some end-user, your team, your boss and/or your organization.
8) If it helps, use a timer set to about 20 minutes to keep you productive all day. At the end of 20 minutes feel free to check email or handle personal tasks, and then return to work, re-setting the timer to 20 minutes.
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9) Anticipate obstacles, because they will occur, often multiple times daily. No one endlessly sails through eight or nine hours unscathed, especially you.
10) Prepare for your daily departure from the workplace, long before doing so. Decide what you want to complete before leaving. Once you leave, do so with a clean mind. When you reach your next destination, be it home or someplace else, be there! Have a life for the rest of the day.