Everyone has 24 hours in a day, and most of us work 8 hour days, so why is it that some people seem incredibly productive, while others struggle to keep their head above water? How do you be more productive to get more done, increase your income, or progress your career? We’ve put together 6 productivity secrets from great CEO’s to help you out.
#1. Don’t major in minor stuff
Let’s face it, you’re never going to get everything done on your to-do list. Every time you cross something off, two or three things are added – and so they should be, that’s how to stay on track and progress through your goals. What many people miss however, is understanding the differences in priorities of tasks. Are all of your tasks necessary to achieving your outcome? Are they all equally important? Chances are you could achieve your outcome without some tasks, and shuffle other tasks around to be more important than others. In Stephen covey’s book: 7 habits of highly effective people, he outlines four quadrants to help you identify which tasks you should focus your attention on the most. By looking at the quadrants below, you can quickly recognise that tasks in quadrant one should be completed first, then two, three and so on. By working on the most important and urgent tasks, you ensure that the time you spend working is spent doing the things that matter most towards your outcomes. If you don’t get to all the items on your to-do list, that’s ok, as they’ll often be lower in priority and can be rescheduled for tomorrow.
#2. Schedule your days.
One of the most common mistakes busy people make is not setting time aside for the things that light them up or bring them joy. While many people use a calendar to some extent at work, most people fail to use it for personal time. With busy schedules and no time set aside, we fall into the trap of overworking and burning out. Schedule in time for yourself, whether it be for meditation, exercise, family or fun. Do the things that are important to you and make you feel fulfilled. Focus on the outcome you want for each week, even if it’s to just feel relaxed, and schedule the time in regularly to remind yourself to stay balanced and get the most out of life. Rather than trying to think of everything you needed to do last week, plan out your next week (or next few days) on Friday afternoon, so when you come in on Monday, you’re ready to get straight into it.
#3. Only check emails at specific times of the day.
Living in your inbox is a great way to have your day directed by other people, instead of purposely directing it yourself. Rather than jump between tasks all day, being directed by what email comes through, great CEO’s only check their email twice a day and scheduled times (such as 8am and 4pm). If there’s something really important you’re waiting for, you can set up a ping notification to let you know when an email has arrived – or more likely than not, you’ll receive a phone call if it’s important and urgent.
#4. Set up filters.
While we’re on the topic of emails, it’s also important to set up appropriate labels or filters to sort your emails into appropriate categories. That way, you’ll be able to quickly find the email you’re after, as well as sort through the junk to see what’s actually important, instead of what’s the highest up your inbox list. It’s a trick that can easily save you 1.5hrs a week
#5. Block out solid working time.
While sometimes distractions are a welcome to pep up your energy, much of the time they’re a roadblock to getting good work done. Set aside 2hrs of your time where you can get away from distractions and sink your teeth into something. Ways to do this are to shutdown your email, get off chat or even head to a meeting room or cafe to work. If someone comes to your desk, politely ask if it’s important before engaging them in conversation, and say you’ll follow up with them later if it’s not. Side note: If you do say you’ll follow up with someone, actually do it, otherwise it’ll start to breakdown your relationships with others, who think you don’t give them any of your time.
#6. Use NET to double up
NET stands for No Extra Time. It’s a method of combining two tasks in the same period of time. For example, if you want to get more exercise, consider having meetings while walking. Read your emails while you’re taking public transport, or take a few phone calls while you’re out for a jog.