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Eight Surefire Methods to Increase Your Productivity

How often do you com­plain that there’s not enough hours in the day to get the things done that you want to do? Do you feel like it’s con­stantly “crunch time” and the result is over­whelm­ing stress? Take note of the fol­low­ing strate­gies to improve your per­for­mance and effi­ciency, which will lead you to a more relaxed, suc­cess­ful, and enjoy­able life.Productivity

1. Sur­round Your­self With Pos­i­tive People

The peo­ple you sur­round your­self with can affect your level of hap­pi­ness, your pro­duc­tiv­ity, your pas­sion, and your well being. Asso­ciate your­self with peo­ple who are go-getters, engaged, pro­duc­tive, smart, and have good attitudes.

Spend some time eval­u­at­ing the suc­cess, pos­i­tiv­ity, enthu­si­asm, level of engage­ment, and opti­mism of the peo­ple you spend your time with. Are they peo­ple who you aspire to be like? Are they role mod­els or men­tors? Do they encour­age you to be the best you can be?

There’s lots of ways to con­nect with moti­va­tional peo­ple. Find groups of peo­ple with sim­i­lar per­sonal and pro­fes­sional inter­ests uti­liz­ing tools such as Mee­tups. At school, seek out clubs and orga­ni­za­tions. At work, seek out pos­i­tive peo­ple and remove your­self from those who drain your energy. Think of these peo­ple as your “dream team.” Lever­age these rela­tion­ships and cul­ti­vate a mutu­ally sup­port­ive environment.

2. Get Enough Sleep

Any­body who’s suf­fered through a day at work or school after a night of insom­nia under­stands that lack of sleep can take a toll on your pro­duc­tiv­ity. Accord­ing to the study, Frontal lobe func­tion, sleep loss and frag­mented sleep, “…exper­i­men­tal stud­ies involv­ing total sleep loss, sleep reduc­tion and clin­i­cally related sleep frag­men­ta­tion report impaired per­for­mance on tasks of frontal lobe or exec­u­tive func­tion, includ­ing mea­sures of ver­bal flu­ency, cre­ativ­ity and plan­ning skills.” Note that “Exec­u­tive Func­tion” of the brain refers to processes such as prob­lem solv­ing, plan­ning, mem­ory, and rea­son­ing. Clearly, impair­ment of these func­tions through lack of sleep can neg­a­tively affect your productivity.

Our moti­va­tion and cre­ativ­ity is at its high­est dur­ing the day and we need sleep to replen­ish it. So what can you do to get more sleep? If you don’t have a med­ical prob­lem, you can try some of these techniques:

  • Turn off elec­tron­ics 30 — 60 min­utes before bed. Light expo­sure before sleep­ing sup­presses the hor­mone mela­tonin which helps you sleep.
  • Keep tem­per­a­tures cool. WebMD rec­om­mends to keep the room between 65 and 72 degrees.
  • Limit caf­feine. The National Sleep Foun­da­tion rec­om­mends lim­it­ing the amount of caf­feine you drink to one or two 8 oz. serv­ings daily.
  • Wear socks at night. Cold feet can pre­vent a good night’s sleep.

3. Uti­lize Good Meth­ods for Doc­u­ment Orga­ni­za­tion and Retrieval

Do you cre­ate and receive a mul­ti­tude of doc­u­ments, pho­tos, notes, and other files? Find­ing the right files when you need them is essen­tial for opti­mal pro­duc­tiv­ity. In fact, accord­ing to the study I Can’t Get My Work Done! by harmon.ie, “users waste 30 min­utes a day (16 days a year!) search­ing for doc­u­ments, on average.”

If you’re any­thing like me, you’re tempted to toss your doc­u­ments on your computer’s desk­top or leave them in your email inbox and orga­nize them later. Big mis­take. Promptly orga­niz­ing your files in fold­ers in cat­e­gories makes it easy to find your files later. If you’re using a Mac, your Spot­light search util­ity (the mag­ni­fy­ing glass in the upper right or Com­mand + space­bar) can be your best friend. Keep in mind that you can use Boolean oper­a­tors (AND, OR, NOT) with the Mac’s spotlight.

To help you get more effi­cient, do research on good ways to orga­nize and tag doc­u­ments so you’re not wast­ing 30 min­utes each day, which could be put to bet­ter use, such as study­ing for exams or com­plet­ing projects. Use note-taking apps and appli­ca­tions with tag­ging capa­bil­i­ties, such as Ever­note, for easy note retrieval. Orga­nize your doc­u­ments by project, event, etc. so you can eas­ily find them in con­text with your life’s projects.

4. Covet a Flex­i­ble Schedule

Some of the lat­est stud­ies show that those who are allowed to work from home part of the time and have flex­i­ble sched­ules are more pro­duc­tive. These employ­ees report that they spend the time that they would nor­mally use com­mut­ing on doing their jobs. In fact, some com­pa­nies report that employ­ees are more engaged and com­mit­ted when flex­i­ble cor­po­rate poli­cies are avail­able, which in turn, increases their productivity.

5. Min­i­mize Dig­i­tal Interruptions

How many times a day are you inter­rupted? Accord­ing to the study I Can’t Get My Work Done! by harmon.ie, “45% of today’s work­ers can’t work more than 15 min­utes with­out being inter­rupted.” The major­ity of these inter­rup­tions (57%) are the result of email, text messaging/chat, appli­ca­tion hop­ping, and per­sonal online activ­ity (Face­book, etc.).

If you’re find­ing that you’re often inter­rupted by dig­i­tal dis­trac­tions, exam­ine ways to max­i­mize your focus. Check your email in chunks and then shut it down. Turn off noti­fi­ca­tions for email, chat, text mes­sages, Twit­ter, and Face­book and check those ser­vices dur­ing reg­u­larly sched­uled times.

6. Stop Procrastinating

We’ve all been there. You have a dead­line loom­ing, but can’t get moti­vated and focused to com­plete what needs to get done. We all have nat­ural ten­den­cies to avoid any­thing that seems like it could be painful, and we choose more plea­sur­able activ­i­ties such as play­ing video games, chat­ting with friends, play­ing golf, or watch­ing the lat­est cat videos on YouTube. There are sev­eral rea­sons that we pro­cras­ti­nate includ­ing over­whelm, inabil­ity to pri­or­i­tize, fear of fail­ure, per­fec­tion­ism, poor time man­age­ment — the list goes on and on.

Pro­cras­ti­na­tion is one of the most dif­fi­cult areas to com­bat. One of the best strate­gies is to find the root cause of your pro­cras­ti­na­tion to end it. Iden­tify when you’re pro­cras­ti­nat­ing and record the rea­sons why. Be cog­nizant of your avoid­ance habits. When you rec­og­nize that you’ve devel­oped a bad habit, learn strate­gies to break it. It usu­ally takes about 3 to 4 weeks to break a bad habit or develop a new habit. When a project is loom­ing, make an action plan. Break down the project into smaller tasks and prioritize.

7. Auto­mate Repet­i­tive Tasks

Per­haps some­day we’ll be able to auto­mate unpleas­ant and repet­i­tive tasks such as doing our laun­dry or dishes, but until some­one builds a bet­ter robot, we’re stuck with these chores. How­ever, using clever web-based soft­ware and apps can auto­mate some of the repet­i­tive tasks that steal your pre­cious time. One of my favorite automa­tion tools is IFTTT. IFTTT is “If This Then That.” It’s a web-based ser­vice that per­forms actions based on your cri­te­ria. It sounds very “techy,” but it’s actu­ally easy to use because there’s sev­eral “recipes” that oth­ers have cre­ated that you can use or mod­ify. For exam­ple, if you’re a blog­ger, you can use IFTTT to instantly share your blog post to all your social media chan­nels auto­mat­i­cally. If you’re a Social Media Man­ager, you can save all your tweets to a Google spread­sheet so you can refer back to them later. If you’re a news buff, you can save pop­u­lar news to read later in Feedly. How cool is that?

8. Choose a Career Path that is Per­son­ally Mean­ing­ful to You

Some of the lat­est stud­ies show that those who are more engaged at work are more pro­duc­tive. How­ever, it’s not always easy to be engaged due to the cul­ture of your orga­ni­za­tion or a mis­match of your organization’s goals and your per­sonal goals. This can lead to poor moti­va­tion and productivity.

Before accept­ing a posi­tion, ensure that the man­age­ment can artic­u­late the over­all strat­egy and goals of the orga­ni­za­tion and where you fit in. Does the orga­ni­za­tion have an inspi­ra­tional leader? Will you be empow­ered to do the job you’re being hired to do? Are the peo­ple at the orga­ni­za­tion engaged or “checked out?” These are impor­tant fac­tors to con­sider when select­ing a future employer.

If you dis­cover that you’re “checked out” at your cur­rent job, dis­cover what moti­vates you to suc­ceed and seek out new chal­lenges. Under­stand how you can pos­i­tively impact the orga­ni­za­tion using your strengths. Seek out cowork­ers and lead­ers who share your moti­va­tion and sup­port your goals.

Start a Conversation!

What are your strate­gies for super­charg­ing your pro­duc­tiv­ity? Please share your expe­ri­ences here or speak up on Twit­ter, Face­book or Google +.

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