9 Proven Ways to Increase Productivity and Save Time
Who Else Want's to be More Productive?
Busy professionals can all agree that productivity is a highly desirable quality.
How many times have you felt that 24 hours isn't enough time to accomplish everything that you need to do on a daily basis?
It is extremely valuable to be efficient both inside and outside of work, especially since your free time is already so limited.
Unfortunately, you cannot change the number of hours there are in a day, but you can certainly make the most of it by improving your efficiency and productivity.
This post is going to cover the nine best tips that I use to increase productivity.
By using these strategies, I am able to keep up with my fitness, my dietary habits, and enjoy hobbies and other fun activities outside of work.
Here they are...
1. Write Things Down
The method that has the biggest impact on improving productivity is planning. Planning ahead is critical as it allows you to list out and evaluate all of the tasks that you need to accomplish.
Write them down in the form of a 'To Do List.' Write everything down, no matter how big or how small the task is. Include work-related tasks, as well as personal ones.
You'll be shocked at how stress relieving it is to see all of your pending tasks written down in a finite form. They always seem like a lot more than they actually are.
Once you know what needs to get done, you can then evaluate how much time each task will take, and allocate your time accordingly. You can also begin formulating a plan on how you will accomplish each activity.
Always make your To Do List. Winging it is inefficient and should only be left to the amateurs.
2. Identify Time Sensitive Activities
After writing down your 'To Do List' figure out which activities need to be done first. These include items that have strict deadlines or depend on a specific date, such as birthdays or holidays.
Make it a priority to accomplish these tasks first and as efficiently as possible. Concentrate all of your efforts on finishing the task that is the most time sensitive. Attack it in bursts with adequate periods of rest in between.
For all of the other tasks that do not have specific deadlines, create artificial deadlines. Get into the habit of believing that everything has to get done by a certain time.
Be strict. Meet your deadlines.
You'll be shocked at how efficient and productive you could be when you believe that you need to be.
3. Just Start
This tip is very simple. Studies have shown that humans have a strong desire to finish any task that they start. I'm sure you have noticed this in your own life.
Starting any task is always the hardest part, as procrastination plays a huge role in decreased productivity. Get over your inertia and just start your tasks as early as possible.
Even if you do the bare minimum, it's always better to have done something, rather than nothing.
4. Define What Truly Matters
This next strategy is extremely important. You must make an honest assessment of what your priorities are. As a busy professional, you will not have enough time to do everything that you want to do. That is just the reality.
Make sure that you allocate your free time to the activities that you deem to be the most important.
For me, exercising is a priority. I will take time away from other activities to ensure that I have enough time to squeeze in a training session.
Spending time with my wife is an even higher priority. If we make any plans, or simply need more quality time together, I will skip my gym session if I need to.
Rank all of your non-work related tasks in order of importance, and identify any potential activities that you can spend less time on. Simply eliminate trivial activities.
5. Stop Watching TV
The average American spends ~10 years of their life watching television. This statistic is astonishing.
Besides the occasional entertainment that television provides, how much benefit have you really obtained from this activity? How many hours have you spent watching things that were a complete waste of time for you?
Personally, I did not own a television set for over 10 years.
I attribute the vast majority of my productivity during those years (college and medical school) to not having watched television throughout that time. To this day, the amount of television that I watch is negligible.
The time spent watching TV can be used in so many more productive ways. Just watching a 30-minute program is 30 minutes that you could've spent performing a quick effective workout.
Let's not even talk about the sedentary lifestyle that television encourages. That's a topic for another post.
6. Eliminate Meaningless Choices by Meal Prepping
You also spend an inexplicably long time making choices. Choices that do not have any significant meaning to your life, such as deciding what to eat for lunch today. If you happen to cook on a daily basis, this is also the time that could be used doing other things.
There is one strategy that can save you a lot of time, and minimize the number of decisions you need to make over the long haul.
Prep your meals 4-7 days in advance.
Investing two-three hours on the weekend (or any off day) to meal prep will save you several hours during the week.
You'll also become healthier in the process, as the food you pack yourself will always be better than the food you buy on the outside.
7. Pick Things Out the Night Before
Along the same lines of meal prepping, picking things out the night before will also create efficiency.
Start by picking out the clothes that you will be wearing tomorrow. Include everything, such as socks, IDs, and devices.
In doing so, you will save a lot of time in the morning and identify any potential issues with your outfit or equipment that you were not expecting.
You can also use this time to pack the gym clothes that you will be changing into after work to get to your training session ;).
After you meal prep, you can pack your lunch as well as other meals for the subsequent day, eliminating the time needed to make these meaningless decisions the following workday.
Now you can focus on decisions that matter.
8. Multi-task Mundane Activities
There is plenty of evidence demonstrating that multi-tasking is inefficient and leads to mediocre results on all tasks. While I completely agree with the data, I still think it is beneficial to multitask certain activities.
The activities that you can do simultaneously are the mundane ones that do not require any performance measures.
Common examples include calling friends and family while washing the dishes or picking out your clothes. Listening to podcasts or study materials while going for a walk or while you organize the house. Brush your teeth while turning on the stove to make breakfast.
Get creative. Find tasks that you can finish simultaneously to save precious time.
Unlike money, you can never get time back.
9. Learn How to Use Your Down Time
No matter how busy you are, you will eventually have some downtime at work. Perhaps you finish an activity in a lot less time than you anticipated, or your hour-long meeting was canceled.
Most people use this time to browse social media or shop online. While there is nothing wrong with that, keep in mind that you can utilize this time in a more productive manner.
Try to use your downtime to update your to-do list from tip #1. If your list is already complete, check to see if there are any tasks that you could potentially start.
The absolute best way to use downtime is to find any work-related obligations that you can take care of while you are still at work. This will help to free up personal time later to enjoy your prioritized hobbies.
Minimize the use of social media. They employ many marketing tactics that entice you to endlessly watch meaningless videos. Without realizing it, you can easily spend an hour chasing useless click bait.
So there you have it. Use these 9 tips to increase productivity and see how many meaningful things you can accomplish in less time. Perhaps, it'll open up that much needed 30 minutes a day that you can use to begin your exercise routine. Learn how to Make Time for Exercise when You Work 16 Hrs a Day.
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