Productivity doesn’t happen by mistake. It results from a combination of equal parts dedication, determination, and discipline.
In business, productivity is a crucial skill you must master. With it, you can steer your business to new heights that you had previously thought to be impossible. But, without it, you’re likely to fail.
Fortunately, productivity is not a skill that most people are born with. It’s a skill that’s learned in time and that virtually anyone can take time to master with time and practice.
Some business owners wholeheartedly believe that they are productive; in fact, they are busy but really spinning wheels instead of driving their business forward. Does that sound like you?
Read on, as we have rounded up eight smart productivity tips that you’ll be able to use to increase productivity in your own workplace.
1 - Craft a Winning Game Plan Every Day
Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s former prime minister, once made a statement that’s become a widely used business adage. “Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.”
That’s standard business productivity advice we’ve all heard before. It has remained solid advice for over two decades because it’s true.
Take a few moments every day to create a “to-do” list.
Don’t commit it to memory, because it will be forgotten. Creating a to-do checklist, entering it on your business calendar, or using a list within a productivity app each day creates a sense of self-accountability.
Throughout the day, view your list to keep yourself from getting pulled off track.
2 - Master the Art of Delegation
Some business owners bog themselves down by trying to do too much themselves. They have employees, but they don’t trust their teammates.
The top business executives know how to build a winning team and how to assign workload that plays to every team member’s strengths.
Another pitfall is when a business owner feels that it’s faster to check a day-to-day task off of a list by doing it herself instead of training someone else to do it. This is an enormous error. Teaching someone to tackle that daily task will eliminate if off your own to do list permanently.
3 - Practice Prioritizing
Now that you’ve created that to-do list and delegated the smaller chores, you should prioritize your to-do list.
Look at the overall picture. Determine which approaching due dates and revenue opportunities are the most significant for your company’s bottom line. In most cases, these are customer-related items.
Non-pressing items and internal tasks can be deprioritized in many cases. That doesn’t mean that you can shovel them aside indefinitely, but they can be done later in the day when customer needs have been met.
4 - “Eat That Frog”
Motivational speaker Bryan Tracy advises business executives (and penned a book by this title) to “Eat That Frog.”
Is there one project you have been procrastinating over because you either hate to do it, don’t know how to start, or fear failure? That project is your “Frog.”
The only way to eat said frog is to dive right in and do it. Tracy advises that you conquer this task first thing in the morning and get it handled so you can move on to less daunting projects.
5 - Please Turn off Handheld Devices
Set yourself free from handheld devices for one hour each day. During that time, don’t peek at social channels, answer calls, or respond to text messages.
This is an hour when you can knock out a large chunk of work without personal distractions. You’ll be gobsmacked at how much you will accomplish when you ignore your phone for the allotted time.
You might even learn that this becomes the highest time of productivity you experience all day!
When’s the best time to do this? Use this time when you are “eating that frog.”
6 - Take Baby Steps
When planning any project, break it down into meaningful, actionable “baby steps.” These are sub-tasks that move your project forward one step at a time.
For example, if you’re going for a clean inbox to increase your productivity, you can start by cleaning up folders today. Unsubscribing to newsletters can be done the next day.
You’ll feel an exhilarating sense of accomplishment once you’ve completed each sub-task rather than overwhelming yourself with too large a stack of work.
You’ll start to make progress faster than you realize when you approach your projects this way.
7 - Walking Meetings
Do you ever get stuck in a seemingly endless meeting that drags on and eats away at your time?
Change up the pace of necessary meetings by having “walking meetings” that get you away from the conference table and invigorates your team.
These meetings eliminate the shuffling of papers and staff arriving at meetings late. You’ll have more productive meetings where you will genuinely engage with your staff.
Your employees will actually show up for meetings on time when they realize that you’ll leave without them!
8 - Indulge in a Reward
Many of us learn that we are our own worst critics. When things go sideways, we beat ourselves up over it. After all, we are taught to take ownership of our mistakes.
On the flip side, we fail to reward ourselves when we’ve done a job well.
Make time to indulge yourself in a reward when you’ve stuck to your plan and completed your day’s to-do list.
This doesn’t need to be a lavish reward. It can be a brisk lunchtime walk, a 5-minute break to enjoy a hot cup of tea, or a quick trip to the dog park after work (although that somehow sounds like a treat for Fido, not yourself, right?).
The point is that you must give yourself a pat on the back when you’ve earned it. It will recharge your batteries and motivate you to do it all over again tomorrow!
Productivity doesn’t happen overnight. You must approach it with a dedication to your business, determination to increase productivity, and discipline to practice at it day after day.
Like any skill, productivity takes a little time and practice and lots of patience. Once you’ve committed to increasing productivity, you’ll see your hard work pay off in a short time.