Axel Kapinga

24 april 2019

Productivity: 30+ tips, tricks and methods

‘How can I boost my productivity’? That’s a question I’ve asked myself plenty of times. And I suspect you have too. That’s why we created a blog full of tips, tricks and strategic methods to raise your productivity through the roof. You’ll discover the most effective productivity strategies and some easily applicable productivity tips. But let’s start with some productivity killers and how to shed your bad habits.

 

Productivity Killers

 

Productivity Killer no.1: Phone notifications

How often do you check your phone during a task? I know I checked mine at least twice whilst trying to write this particular paragraph. Apparently, I just couldn’t resist reading the latest on Messi vs. Ronaldo. According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 50 percent of respondents believe that cell phone usage is the main obstacle to a stellar performance at work.

 

The same survey showed that at least 24 percent of respondents spend at least one hour a day on personal calls, emails or texts. 21 percent admitted that they spend one hour or more scouring the internet for anything but non-work-related info. But is your smartphone actually your nr.1 productivity killer?

 

Yes. Without a shadow of a doubt. The American Psychology Association came to the conclusion that we’re more likely to make an error if we have a cell phone in our vicinity.



 

 

What is the solution to this?

Well, not answering your phone isn’t ideal. What you could do is designate specific times where you check and respond to your notifications. This will definitely boost your productivity.

 

You’ll be laser-focused on your deep work and you won’t get lost in the shallow work of responding to messages. Don’t worry about leaving your clients in the dark. You can easily create an out-of-office email or an away message to let senders know that you’ll respond

 

Productivity killer nO. 2: Open offices

 

Some dread it, others adore it. I for one love working in an open office. It allows for interaction, knowledge-sharing, and collaboration. It enhances creativity, but it could hamper productivity.  Studies have shown that open office workers are 66 percent less productive. How can you overcome this? By alternating between open space and private office. An open space is an ideal venue if you need to interact with your colleagues or peers. Having people working around you is also stimulating and motivating when performing certain tasks. A private office comes in handy when you really need to buckle down and focus on the task at hand. So, if you have the option: alternate.  

 

We happen to have co-working space and private offices. Want to check them out?

 

 

If you don’t have the option, you should use signals. Signal to your colleagues that you’re not available for a chat about Theresa May’s dancing.

via Gfycat

You can do so by putting in your earphones. Or by telling them to give you some time and space.

 

Productivity Killer No. 3: Doing too much

 

Doing too much ➡️ Overtime ➡️ Burnout.

 

How often have you answered “Sure, no problem” when asked to perform a task, when the correct answer was “No, I can’t do it right now” or “I have too much on my plate”? I know I have plenty of times. But now I know better: It’s unhealthy and absolutely counterproductive.

As soon as you work overtime, your productivity drops. In fact, you’ll achieve as much working eight, 60-hour weeks as you will working eight 40-hour weeks. So, there’s no use in accepting the task if you have to work overtime. On top of that, overtime could kill you.

 

So, limit overtime at all costs. Some of your colleagues or your boss might interpret that as you being lazy. But not if you go about it the right way. Say no, but work out an alternative solution to their problem.

 

For example, if your boss wants you to stay late for a project, let them know you’ll be up first thing in the morning to accomplish that task during your regular work hours the next day. Break down exactly what you’ll do to get the project turned in before the deadline. Also, let your boss know you’ll keep him or her in the loop until the project is complete. And complete the task before the deadline.

 

Productivity Killer No.4: Perfectionism.

 

I’ve been guilty of wanting to do things perfectly. You may think of it as an asset, but it’s actually a massive productivity inhibitor. A perfectionist tends to proofread an email 15 times or mull over a sentence for an hour. Again, guilty as charged.

 

How can you overcome perfectionism?

 

Determine the scope of the project you’re about to take on before doing anything else. And follow that scope. That will help you manage your time and expectations.

 

Limit the time you give yourself for a certain task. For instance, instead of writing and rewriting a sentence up to 10 times, I've now given myself 3 minutes to reconsider everything or come up with a better idea.

 

Another trick is to think of tasks as ongoing projects that you can revisit if necessary. You can improve from time to time as circumstances change or when you receive feedback. This will alleviate the need to be perfect instantly.

 

Productivity Methods

It’s time to go more in-depth. These are long-term methods that can put you on track to be the most productive you’ve ever been. But remember: This is a process. You will make giant leaps forward interspersed with small setbacks. Follow these steps, keep at it, you will get there.

 

 It’s also a matter of picking and sticking with the method that suits your habits and your work style. The perfect productivity method is easy to adopt in your routine. If it proves too difficult, it’s not the right method for you. I find mine through trial and lots of errors. Here are some of my favourites.


 

1. The Personal Kanban

 

The Personal Kanban gives you a high-level overview of everything you’re working on. This is how it works:

 

  1. Create a physical or virtual dashboard and divide it into at least 3 categories. For instance:  To Do - Doing - Done.  Every column signifies a step in the process of a task.
  2. The next step is to divide your project into small, bite-sized tasks.
  3. Then, write those tasks down on cards. Now - here it comes - put each card in the right column, i.e. put it in the corresponding step of the process. And move the card from column to column as you progress in your tasks.

 

What are the advantages?

First of all, the Personal Kanban forces you to think of your project as a  collection of smaller, more manageable tasks. This will help you be more focused,  more task oriented and make your project more manageable, without losing oversight of it all.

 

2. Eat A Frog

Do it. Not literally. It’s a method to help you be more productive.

It means that you should do the most important task first.

But how do you determine the most important task? According to self-help guru Brian Tracy, you should focus on impact. Here’s how:

  1. What do you want to achieve the most? That’s your goal.
  2. Write your goal down.
  3. Set a deadline.
  4. Make a list of all the things you need to do to achieve your goal.
  5. Reorganize that list in order of priority. What’s first?
  6. If you have more than one frog, eat the ugliest one first. Just do it.

  7. Resolve to do something every single day that moves you toward your goal. Ideally, it’ll be the very first thing you do in the morning. That way, you’ll have put in the necessary work towards what’s most important.

3. The Pomodoro Technique

 

Are you a notorious procrastinator? Have we got the method for you?! The Pomodoro Technique is pretty straight-forward and will raise your productivity through the roof.  This is how the Pomodoro Technique works:

  1. Divide your project into tasks

  2. Decide which task you’ll perform.

  3. Work on that task for 25 minutes.

  4. Take a short 5-minute break.

  5. Repeat 3 times

  6. Take a longer break after the 4th time


 

This technique is a massive productivity booster for procrastinators and perfectionists.

 

4. Don’t break the chain.

 

Again a very easily applicable technique. The don’t break the chain method has its roots in comedy, it was invented by Jerry Seinfeld. It will boost the productivity of those who have trouble finishing routine tasks every single day. It works like this:

  1. Take a calendar

  2. Perform your daily routine

  3. When finished, mark the day on the calendar with an X.

  4. Repeat

If you don’t perform your routine tasks for a day, you won’t be able to mark that day with an ‘X’ and in doing so, break the chain. You can also apply it when you have to perform unique tasks that’ll bring you closer to a bigger goal.

 

5. Find Your Biological Prime Time

When is your time to shine? The  ‘Find your Prime Time’ method is all about finding when you are at the peak of your performance. That’s when you should work. How does one apply it?

 

The basic idea here is to track your energy, motivation and focus to get a sense of when, where, and how you’re the most productive. Here’s how it  works:

  1. Eliminate any factors that could mess with your energy — changes in caffeine intake is a big one, staying up late is another.

  2. Keep track of what you’re accomplishing once an hour, every hour that you’re working for 3 weeks straight. Time and activity tracking tools like Rescue Time and Toggl can be a big help here.

  3. Look for patterns in your data. You can even turn the data into graphs. Do you have higher energy when you skip breakfast? Maybe you should consider doing just that. Schedule your most important tasks for that time and push meetings off earlier in the day.

If it turns out that you’re most productive in the evening or even at night,  you should consider flexible working. Ask your boss if there’s a possibility to work when you want and where you want it. This isn’t an easy request and it might be a big step for all parties involved, but why wouldn’t you consider it if you become a more productive and better professional.

 

You’ll probably discover some intriguing info about what drives your productivity — just be careful to not let this task become its own form of procrastination. If you do this diligently for a few weeks, you’ll end up being productivity superhero.

 

6. The Agile Results Method

 

The Agile Results Method helps you prioritize and focus on outcomes. You’ll also have a diligent watch over the scope of your overall project.

 

This method helps you align your day-to-day activities with your larger goals. Like many productivity methods, it encourages working through blocks, but it’s still achievement-oriented. It pushes you to take time to reflect on what’s working and what could be improved. You’ll have an eye the past and the future. It works like this.

  1. Identify 3 outcomes you want to see for the day, week, month and year.

  2. Create a to-do list. Make sure that your daily task aligns your weekly goals. Your weekly goals should, in turn, help you reach your monthly goals. And your monthly,... well you get the picture.

  3. Look back. Did you do well? What worked and what didn’t? Take this time not to beat yourself up about a possible negative result,  but to learn and improve when you adopt this method.

This method boosts your productivity because you’re constantly reminded of the finished product. This is a massive motivator and will help you put in work. It also gives you ways to think about your task and your way of doing things, while having an overview of both the daily tasks and the bigger picture.

 

7. Getting Things Done

 

GTD is by far the most famous and lasting productivity method in the world.  According to productivity thought leader David Allen, this will supercharge your productivity.

 

It enables you to get your thoughts, worries, and to-dos all out on paper or into an app. It aims to remove the frenzied stress of having too much to do by organizing your ideas in a system outside of your head. There are five phases in this method:

 

  1. Capture

This is the brain dump phase. Write down everything you need to do. Don’t worry about the how’s, when’s, the structure or the wording. Just get it out of your head in some form.

 

  1. Clarify

Take your ideas and your thoughts and break them into specific tasks or steps. If you wrote down ‘Event’ clarify if you need to brainstorm about an event or call an event agency to make an appointment. If it’s a big project, like creating a script for the event, you will need to break it down and clarify those bits into tasks. Like every other productivity technique, it’s the smaller the better.

 

3. Organize

 

Your tasks are clarified, now it’s time to prioritize them. Put them in order of importance and attach due dates to them. You could even prioritize or categorize them if you can take on several tasks at once.

 

4.  Reflect…

 

...on a daily AND weekly basis. Do you need to further specify or break down a certain task? Are some of the due dates unreasonable? Adjust them. Did some items on your list become irrelevant? Delete them.

 

5. Engage.

 

This is the execution phase. Take on your tasks. Todoist’s unique system works well with the GTD method. Check out this video to find ou how to use todoist to GTD.

 

8. The Athlete Method

 

Are you an athlete? Then this method will look familiar. The goal is not to exercise before you tackle a specific task, although exercising boosts productivity. The key is to think like an athlete. This what it would look like for me:

  1. Determine one solid goal (increase leads by 10%).

  2. Schedule your most important tasks first for your prime time (Write a paragraph every morning).

  3. Measure your results (Number of visits, Click Through Rate, quality of each sentence).

  4. Hold yourself accountable and fix what’s not working (using time tracking apps, evaluate your prime time, evaluate your keywords).

  5. Prioritize your health (Take a break every 25 minutes, get enough sleep, eat).

This method will definitely make you think about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and how you’re doing it.

 

Productivity: Quick wins

 

We’ve already touched on some major productivity methods, but let’s move on to some lighter work. Here some tips to kickstart your productivity.


 

Plan

No matter what project you’re vying to accomplish, you should know in advance what you’ll do and when you’ll do it.  

 

Take breaks

Stop trying to work for hours on end. It won’t do you any good, your productivity will drop and you might get burned out. Instead, take breaks every 25 minutes.

 

Listen to Music

Music can help you get going. Low-volume music can drown out noises in the office. High-volume and uptempo beats could give you a boost. No matter what style you prefer, choose music that helps you focus without distracting you. Pro tip: It has been shown that while listening to Classical music your IQ actually increases. Give Beethoven a shot.

 

Switch it up

Some of us are more productive when they can work on a single task for days on end. In my experience switching between tasks can give me a lift when I’m stuck on a particular job. This might keep you productive and eliminate some of the tedium associated with working on the same project for long periods of time.

 

Don’t skip lunch

Most of us have been there: you have to deliver a task and you decide to skip lunch or worse have lunch at your desk because you think it’ll improve your productivity. Wrong! On top of that being a bit sad, it will actually lower your productivity. Leaving your desk for lunch provides some much-needed relaxation. Enjoy your lunch break and return to your work with renewed energy and focus.

 

Exercise

Exercising for half an hour will make you 23% more productive. So go for a walk or better yet, go for an intense workout before your workday or during lunch.

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Declutter
Organize your workspace. If you have less clutter on your desk, you’ll lower your anxiety and increase your productivity. It’s that simple. It will help you think more clearly and waste less time looking for an item you can‘t find.

 

The 2-minute rule

The “2-Minute Rule” seems simple and mundane, but it’s a method that could improve your productivity. This is how you should implement it:

  1. Like always, plan. Get your to-do list in order.

  2. List your to-do’s from small to large

  3. Do those first to-do’s in as little time as possible. Your first task should take 2 minutes or less.

Always make sure to come back to your list and finish it, though. Don’t get bogged down in these small tasks and let them derail your day by taking up more time than they should.

 

Keep track of what you do

First, you need to know how much time you spend on your daily tasks. Keep track of everything that you do for an entire week. You think you spend about 5 minutes on your emails in the morning, but are you sure? Use a time tracker app or a clock and measure the time you’re actually devoting to a task. Pause the time tracker whenever you’re getting distracted are interrupted during that task. You will get surprised.

 

Evaluate your time tracking findings

Now that you’ve tracked your work for a full week, it’s time to evaluate the results. I, for example, seemed to spend 17 minutes on answering emails in the morning. However, those 17 minutes were dispersed over 44 minutes. A lot of time wasted.

 

What you should do is take stock of where you spent the majority of your time. You might be horrified to learn how much time you what on things that don’t matter.

 

Where and what can you improve?

 

By now you should know where you’re wasting time on. In order to improve ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which tasks can only I do?

  • Which projects will further my career (the fastest/most)?

  • What tasks could anyone with minimal training do?

  • Could I automate, or outsource this function(s)? If not, how can I spend less time on it?

The answers to these questions will help you determine where to spend the majority of your time each day to make the highest impact.

 

Work remotely

Working remotely can help you increase your productivity. While an office can foster collective energy and resources, it can also hinder your productivity. Every one of us gets interrupted by our colleagues when in the midst of work, for something they deem important. A study by the Harvard Business Review found that remote workers are more productive and are less likely to quit their jobs. 

 

If you don’t get the opportunity to work remotely, change offices or leave your workspace for some time.  A change of scenery sparks creativity and productivity.

 

What's even better is to simply try working remotely. It's easier than you think. Numerous companies are willing to share their workspaces with.  you. They list their coworking spaces and offices on Workero, a new office-sharing platform. Head over to the platform and discover what it's all about.

 

 

Stand up more.

Having an afternoon slump? Stand up! Are you making the same typo over and over in that spreadsheet? Stand up! Are you having a hard time staying awake while your CEO is giving a speech? Stand up!

 

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It’s simple, but it’s effective. Standing increases focus and thereby productivity. it also helps diminish health risks, like:

  • shoulder and back pain

  • obesity

  • diabetes

  • cardiovascular disease

  • cancer (especially cancers of the colon or breast)

  • premature death

Be generous with work

If you’re regularly wondering how you’re going to complete all the work that’s on your plate, delegate. Not all of your tasks but the ones that are low value.  Don’t let data-entry, document formatting or running errands eat away at the precious time to be productive in other more impactful areas.

 

Don’t be generous with time

Limit yourself. We’ve touched on it earlier, but giving yourself less time than you might need, will keep you more focused on the job done and of course boost your productivity.

 

Be repetitive

This might be boring, but doing the same things at the same time each day will help you avoid fatigue, develop long-lasting efficient habits and execute tasks quick and clinically.

 

Find meaning in what you do

Sometimes the cause for a lack of productivity isn’t the executor of the task, but the task itself. It can be tough to get motivated for some tasks L.V. Anderson, Slate reporter stated that:

 

“Motivation is the fuel for productivity in the face of apathy, and generating it is as simple as tying the task at hand back to a bigger, more important goal”

He hit the nail on the head. Tie your tasks, as meaningless and mind-numbing to might be, to a bigger goal. You might have a hard time finding that meaning, but dig deep, it’s definitely somewhere.

 

Be resilient and be compassionate

Being resilient or having willpower is more than rejecting what’s bad for you. It’s ardently pursuing your goals and desires.

Dr. Kelly McGonigal, author of The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It, put it like this:

 

“We rarely think about willpower as actually just being the ability to do what really matters to us, what we really want in the long term, those choices that are consistent with our long-term goals and values.”

 

Dr. McGonigal asserts that willpower is a muscle you can tone. And toning your willpower will help you focus and boost your productivity.

 

According to her, many people use guilt and shame to compel themselves to be more productive and complete tasks they may not really want to do.  

 

Unfortunately, this habit drains your willpower and your productivity. Guilt and shame or no long term motivators. They’ll make you complacent and risk-averse in the long run.   

 

So, don’t be too hard on yourself.

If you’ve procrastinated or didn’t finish what you set out to do, reboot your productivity by accepting that and move forward with renewed willpower.

 

That’s all. For now.

I’m sure there’s a whole plethora of productivity tips and methods out there. But these should get you going. Adopt what you think works for you and don’t be afraid to reassess the tip or the method you’ve chosen. These are merely tools to help you be the most productive version of yourself.

 

What's unrefutable is the fact that workspace matters.  The right office and coworking space can help you get the most out of yourself. Be careful when you choose your workspace. Pay us a visit and find out how we can help you be even better.

 

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