More Hours or Work Smarter – Which Do You Choose?

Here are 16 more ways to get productive. No, they are not about meditating and pondering life’s problems. These are steps you can put into place right now. I hope some of them work for you.

  1. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good – Your work may never be perfect, but sometimes it’s more important to get it in the hands of others to get feedback and find out how it can be improved. Also, you might think something is not perfect but those who read or use it, might think it’s spectacular. Don’t let your own perspective get in the way of getting it done.
  2. Declutter your work space – Clear desk equals a clear mind. Enough said.
  3. Spend more time planning. If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t know if you’ve reached there (paraphrasing Alice in Wonderland). It’s been said that for every minute you plan, you save five minutes in execution. Now that’s a great payoff.
  4. Define three outcomes you want for the day– Outcomes are results, not tasks to be completed. Tasks are merely the elements that lead to the outcome. This will force you to prioritize and focus on what’s actually important.
  5. Do something mundane at the start of the day – It’s hard to jump right into intense brain-straining projects. Get into “work mode” by doing an easy task first.
  6. Ditch your iPhone/Android – Put it on airplane mode from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm. And, turn it face down on your desk (or better yet, leave it in your coat pocket), so you don’t see blinking lights when you get a text, call, or email.
  7. Create deadlines (and don’t allow yourself to change them) – Nothing like a fixed time to get your juices flowing and forcing you to take action. If it still doesn’t work, find the smallest piece of the project you can complete and work on that. Just start.
  8. Wait 90 minutes before checking your email – Trust me, your clients and customers are not staring at their screen waiting for your reply. They have other things to do. So, don’t worry about the delay and don’t get distracted by emails. Further, for every email you answer, it takes 15 minutes to reorient yourself to the task you were working on.
  9. Take walking meetings – This is one of my favorites because I get exercise, get away from my desk, changes my surroundings, and the modest exercise actually stimulates ideas and creativity. Kill 2 birds with 1 stone, with a walking meeting.
  10. Schedule your free time. If you schedule your free time it will actually compress your work time. Nothing like a shorter work day to add urgency and need for immediate action.
  11. Nap – My all-time favorite. Got a food coma at 2:30. Take a 20 minute nap and then take a quick walk and have a bottle of water. You’ll be ready for the rest of the day.
  12. Say “NO” – Don’t let unimportant obligations suck up your time and energy. Know what is and is not important and get rid of the unimportant.
  13. Clean Up Days – Have one day each week (or at most every ten days) you spend cleaning up old issues, reflecting on what you recently accomplished, strategizing for the next week/month/quarter. You can also use this day to learn new skills, watch a webinar, or take a MOOC class.
  14. Put your computer behind you – Even if only in your peripheral vision, the computer can still be a temptation to check e-mail, catch up on the news, or watch the latest viral YouTube video. Put it behind you where you can’t see it at all.
  15. Close your office door – Avoid the continuous stream of people stopping in on the way to the lunchroom or bathroom. Avoid the on-going water cooler talk about last night’s TV show, or the latest office gossip.
  16. Find an empty conference room – A change of scenery is great. Plus, the conference room will not have all the distractions of your own office. This is actually why some people can get more done at a coffee shop than at their office.

That’s it. Hopefully you will now actually accomplish twice as much in half the time. Whatever your most productive methods, I encourage you to always experiment with new ideas and strategies. You might find some you never thought about. And if your favorite is not listed, let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

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