increase your productivityWho doesn’t want to increase productivity and add some more hours every day. But we get lost in our daily routine and stuck in our habits. When this happens, productivity starts to suffer and output starts to decline. Here are 10 ways to get back on track and increase your productivity substantially…

1. Just make a start

Starting a task such as that proposal you have been meaning to write or that walk you have been planning to add to your morning routine is usually quite hard. Nine times out of ten, if we can get away with doing nothing, we will do nothing. However once you start and get going, you can start to build momentum and sometimes even a measure of excitement with the progress.

2. Find your optimum time

Some people perform better in the morning, others later in the day. For many of us, it is the early morning when the day hasn’t yet started, when things are quieter, This is particularly true for things like exercise, for planning the day, etc. Getting up earlier in the morning also gives you the extra time that takes away the stress usually associated with waking up later and then rushing to the office.

3. The 80:20 rule

The famous Pareto principle that 20% of what we do creates 80% of the desired results and the remaining majority (80%) of what we do is usually not productive at all is so applicable here.  For example, you could get the key message from this article just by reading the headings. The idea is to focus on activities that produce results rather than activities that simply take up time.

4. Write your tasks and to-do’s every day

Research shows that simply remembering tasks and priorities is not effective; you have to write these down. The act of writing down your tasks and priorities does two things: firstly, it creates a methodology, deliberateness and discipline rather than a random planning process and secondly, it helps you to focus on what actually matters and is priority and what isn’t.  You can divide this list up into sections or sub-lists (let’s call this your own “planning system”) like a section for work, one for health, etc. You can use highlight pens (if you prefer paper like I do) or stickies on your desk or computer home screen – whatever works for you. Keep updating this list regularly – sometimes 2 or 3 times a day.

5. Learn to say No

One of the top ways to increase your productivity is to learn to be able to walk away from situations that do not produce any results and that take up your time and energy. There is no way we can handle everything that comes our way – a project, a request, an interruption or distraction. It takes effort and resolve to say “no” but when you can learn to do this, it can make a quantum difference in your ability to produce results.

6. Learn from others

How do other successful people – perhaps successful people you know well – manage to be so productive? How do they go about producing extraordinary outcomes. How does your friend manage to stay so fit while exercising only a couple of hours a week? What do they know or do that you don’t? Asking them for advice and help will save you having to re-invent the wheel.

7. Motivate yourself with ambitious goals

You need to set goals for yourself that are exciting and that motivate you. If all your tasks and goals are routine, it is possible many of these will never get done.

8. Focus on one task at a time

There has been extensive research that multi-tasking is not productive. You might feel really good that you are handling so many things at a time but are you sure you are producing optimum results? The best way to be really productive is focusing on one task at a time.

9. Manage the distractions and time wasters

Just as important as learning to say “no” is learning to manage the constant distractions like checking Facebook,  watching videos on your mobile, chat messages that can arrive any time and invite you to respond, surfing the Internet aimlessly, watching TV for hours.

10. Take a break and move

Just like morning exercise that gets you ready for the day ahead,  taking a short break and switching off from work and tasks can rejuvenate. Going for a short exercise break during the midday lunch hour is also a great way to get rid of any sluggishness and come back fresh and ready for the rest of the afternoon.