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15 Ways to Increase Your Productivity

The key is to work smarter, not harder. As the saying goes, “it’s not the number of hours you put into work, it is the amount of work you put in those hours.”

Employees are one of the most important things to a small business. If your employees are happy, their productivity will increase, and that’s exactly what you need to help your business grow.

Using technology and some tools definitely helps, but making small changes to habits will drastically improve the levels of productivity in your business. This will allow you to get more quality work done in a shorter period of time as well as reduce the amount of time spent on unnecessary tasks.

Here I show you 15 top tips on how to get the most out of your employees and ensure that their productivity is kept to a maximum.

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01- Write down your Daily GOALS

It’s difficult to keep track of everything you need to do, so start each morning by writing down your goals for the day. Writing down your goals means you can visually see them because the goals feel tangible.

When goals are written down you are more likely to intellectually engage and emotionally connect with the result of the goal you want to achieve. When your focus is broken or you find yourself procrastinating, you can use the list to keep you on track. It’s a good idea that instead of using small yellow post-it, you use half of a page. Put it near your desk, then return to it when you need a reminder of what you should be working on.

It’s critical to think about what you want to accomplish a month from today, and then break down those priorities into small tasks that can be accomplished in a single day. Breaking down a big goal like into bite-sized tasks, makes it far more manageable and creates a sense of progress each day.

02- Do the MOST important thing first

Productivity consultant and best-selling author Brain Tracy named the Eat the Frog method after this vivid piece of advice from Mark Twain. While there’s more power and nuance to this method than meets the eye, it all boils down to this:  Identify the most important task for the day and do it first.

In that sense, “Eating that frog” means you have to do the task you dread first, before all other tasks. Once you have “eaten” your “frog”, you can rest assured that the worst is behind you, so you’re likely to take on a positive approach about the rest of your day.

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03- Focus on ResultOriented ACTIVITIES

Pareto’s law (also known as the 80 – 20 rule) states that 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs. This means that 20% of our actions result in 80% of the results.

We must find the 20% that is creating the 80% of our desired outcomes and focus solely on those activities.

04- More Training

There’s no doubt that enhancing the quality of work can lead to increased productivity – not least because it reduces the frequency of errors and therefore the need to repeat tasks.

Improving the knowledge and skills of staff also makes employees feel more valued, and showing your commitment to their progression is likely to instil in them a sense of loyalty and encourage hard work.

This is especially important for middle managers, as they’re instrumental in communicating the company’s vision and organizing operations.

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05- Follow the Two-Minute Rule

We all know that overcoming procrastination and laziness can be hard, but it doesn’t always have to be. A pretty good strategy that couldn’t be easier to use is the Two-Minute Rule, which is designed to help you stop procrastinating and stick to good habits at the same time.

The rule is simple

If you have a pending task that you know can be completed in two minutes or less, you should do it immediately as it’ll take longer to review and finish it later.

The name of this strategy was inspired by the author and productivity consultant David Allen in his bestselling book Getting Things Done.

By using this strategy, you will improve your productivity almost immediately.

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06- Minimize Interruptions

Even brief interruptions appear to produce a change in work pattern and a corresponding drop in productivity. Minimizing interruptions may mean setting office hours, keeping your door closed, or working from home for time-sensitive projects.

If you feel the need to increase your productivity at work, resist the temptation put in longer hours or pack more into your already-full calendar. Instead, take a step back, and think about ways you can work smarter, not harder.

07- Conduct essential Meetings only

Meetings can be a useful communication tool. Planning will help a meeting accomplish more in less time. Everyone will not always agree on the best way difficulties should be solved, but friendly disagreements about solutions can be beneficial.

The meeting will be a waste of time, however, unless concrete action plans are made to solve problems. Specific dates for goal accomplishments can be set and followed up later. The best advice I can give you is to always conduct the necessary meetings and never take longer than what it should be. Lengthy meetings can disrupt your employees while at work, and if you do this every day, you are stealing their time that can be used for accomplishing more work.

08- Prioritize and Delegate correctly

Your focus should go to the most important tasks first. Delegation comes with an element of risk, but increased responsibility is important for improving the morale and job satisfaction of your staff. Give responsibilities to qualified employees that have a proven track record with success in a certain field, and trust that they will perform the tasks well.

If you allow employees the chance to gain skills and leadership experience, it will benefit your company and provide your employees with a sense of achievement and direction in their own careers.

Spread work load
Some managers have this habit of being on top of everything. They are afraid to delegate tasks because they don’t want unacceptable outcomes. This kind of behavior springs from lack of trust in one’s team, and this is an unsuitable attitude. First, you cannot handle all tasks on your own. You have to delegate most tasks to your team members. Second, you should trust your workforce; otherwise, replace them.

When you delegate tasks, make sure you distribute them accordingly. There is an appropriate person for each type of task. This is why it’s crucial that you know the strengths and weaknesses of each of your members.

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09- Stop Multitasking!

Doing several things at once is a trick we play on ourselves, thinking we’re getting more done. In reality, our productivity goes down by as much as 40%. We don’t actually multitask. We switch-task, rapidly shifting from one thing to another, interrupting ourselves unproductively, and losing time in the process.

Research shows that heavy multitaskers are less competent at doing several things at once than light multitaskers. In other words, in contrast to almost everything else in your life, the more you multitask, the worse you are at it. Practice, in this case, works against you.

Doing more than one thing at a time may seem like the best way to get all of your tasks done, but it can hurt your productivity more than it helps. Even computers, the fastest devices that have been invested, perform a single operation at a time. But the thing is that they do it so fast, that we perceive the illusion that they are doing many things at a time, when in reality, it’s only one.

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10- Work in 90-minute intervals

There’s a constant search to increase productivity these days. Given the pace and expectations of modern life, we’d all like to understand how to best maximize our time and energy. It turns out, there may be a simple solution:

By working in 90-minute intervals (or less) you could maximize your productivity.

Humans aren’t meant to focus for long periods of time. The brain is a complex thing, constantly taking in stimuli — it’s been estimated that we take in 11 million bits of information per second from the environment — so it makes sense that our attention span, or amount of time that we can focus on one specific activity, isn’t too long.

Science has proven that the brain can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes before it needs a break. So, the advice is to work focused on a task for 90 minutes or less, and then take a break, which can be walking around the block or distracting yourself with something that doesn’t demand your attention or focus. By doing so, your brain will recover its cycle and you will be able to use it as its peak.

11- Take regular breaks

You might think it’s counterintuitive, but taking short breaks between work actually boosts concentration, creativity and memory.

Continuously working for long stretches of time leads to stress, exhaustion and decision fatigue. Maximize your efficiency at work by taking frequent breaks to refresh and refuel your mind.

It sounds weird, but taking scheduled breaks can actually help improve concentration. Some research has shown that taking short breaks during long tasks helps you to maintain a constant level of performance; while working at a task without breaks leads to a steady decline in performance.

12- Reduce Distractions

Social media can be a huge productivity killer, but it isn’t practical to have a no-phone policy, and in many cases, these devices are simply essential to work. Instead, try to keep employees focused and engaged while allowing them breathing room. The average American spends nearly one-quarter of their workday browsing social media for non-work related activities.

Distractions include the phone, text messages, email notifications and having multiple web browsers open on the desktop.

Social Media is a part of all of our daily lives. However, you must have the discipline to not spend large parts of your day seeing what your friends thought of the latest movie release or what they had for dinner last night. Many companies ban employees from accessing social media when they are at work, as it is a drain on productivity. If you are allowed to use social media at work, use it only as a ‘break’ for a few minutes, because if it becomes a regular habit, it can easily take over your day and impact the work you need to get done.

Remove the distractions by silencing your phone, disabling app notifications, exiting out of chat applications and closing the inbox before you start any important task where complete focus is necessary, so that the constant updates won’t distract you.

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13- Make sure Employees are HAPPY

A stressful workplace will not yield results. Workers that constantly operate under highly stressful conditions are found to be less productive and have higher levels of disengagement and absenteeism … They need to be happy!

Showing employees how much the company appreciates, respects and values them on a personal level is gratifying – and often overlooked. This is just as important when you are starting a new business or trying to make an existing business more successful.

Practice Positive Reinforcement

Encourage, motivate and reward. Tell employees they are doing a good job and give constructive criticism. Most importantly, offer personal incentives for doing the job well – could they get a free holiday or a free takeout coffee for performing above and beyond their roles? Of course, yes.

You should clearly indicate success of one employee to other staff to cultivate a sense of fulfilment to motivate others. When you motivate your employees to work harder and receive rewards in return, they’re more likely to put increased productivity high up on their to-do list.

If you want your staff to work to the best of their ability, try out a few of these tips and enjoy the benefits.

14- Offer support and set Realistic GOALS

A common problem for managers is having no clear, strong sense of whether their employees are high-performing or not.

Do your employees need an incentive to stay on track? Help them by offering goals that are achievable. Provide clear direction to supervisors and employees to help clarify expectations. This will help to increase their productivity, as they will have a clear focus and clear goals.

15- Last, but NOT Less Important

Get Organized
Science says that people with a messy workspace are less efficient and more frustrated than those who have an organized work desk. Clutter limits your brain’s ability to concentrate and process information.

Sleep Better
Sleep deprivation has negative effects on our performance. Lack of sleep decreases our Concentration, working memory, mathematical capacity, and logical reasoning. Getting the correct amount of time of sleep each night is crucial for your physical and mental well-being.

Eat Healthy
What you put in your body matters. To avoid feeling sluggish, prioritize healthy eating and nutritious snacks.

Control your Schedule
Staying productive, clear-headed and calm is really about feeling in control. Whether you’re delegating tasks to others or setting time limits for interruption, you are taking back room in your schedule to tackle the things you’ve deemed important.

Avoiding burnout and fatigue is essential to boosting your productivity and memory retention. You can do all of that by simply influencing the direction of your day rather than being resigned to letting the direction of your day control your actions.

Plan your Phone Calls
Unless you are expecting a critical call, turn off your phone when you’re about to work on a project that needs your full attention. Then, set aside a structured time to make all your outgoing calls so you spend less time trying to reach people and more time in productive conversations.

If you’re working on something that doesn’t need your full attention, feel free to leave your phone on and answer calls; it saves you from having a batch of phone calls to return at some point during your day. But know when the phone will be a distraction, and get it out of the way.

CONCLUSION

In this article I’ve covered a lot in how to boost your productivity. Despite that there are some common-sense tools and techniques, at the end, habits are the ones that will allow us to be more efficient. Productivity is measured not by the quantity of time you have spent at work but by the quantity and quality of accomplished tasks.

I can guarantee you, without any doubt, that if you implement these habits and techniques, your productivity will increase 20X.

It's a Social Media and digital marketing consultant and owner and founder of LFStudio.com. He is also author and entrepreneur. He helps small businesses to grow, get clients and generate income.

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