Time is perhaps the most valuable resource we have because it’s decreasing continuously. Ergo, making the most of the time we have is quintessential to get that elusive feeling of fulfillment, be it at the workplace, lectures, or in our day-to-day chores. Reports suggest that productivity has taken a huge hit post-pandemic.
For students, attention spans are going down. Concentration levels are dwindling during online classes, and this has hampered learning. Work-life balance has gone for a toss due to the work-from-home culture. Against this backdrop, the importance of making efficient use of this scarce resource cannot be overstated.
Being a productivity titan isn’t rocket science, but it’s not a piece of cake either. Here are 10 tried-and-tested ways to increase productivity without burning yourself out.
Top 10 Ways to Increase Productivity
1. Work Smart, Not Hard
A wise (and extremely productive) man once said, “It’s not the number of hours you put into work, it’s the amount of work you put into those hours.” Working long hours can drain you out both mentally and physically. Smart work is all about breaking down bigger tasks into smaller chunks that can be accomplished in 30-50 minutes.
2. Use Time-Trackers
We often overshoot the time limit we have set on a particular task because we lose track of time. You can use time-tracker apps like Rescue Time and Clockify to monitor exactly how much time you are spending on each task or to finish an assignment. You can also try specialized time-management techniques like the Pomodoro method, which involves working in short bursts of 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break.
3. Productivity Playlists
Good, soft music in the background can improve productivity by leaps and bounds. Music serves as pleasant white noise, drowning out all worldly disturbances like car honking, people talking loudly, or other audio distractions. Spotify has an entire playlist called ‘Focus’ under the ‘Genres and Moods’ section that is perfect for this purpose. You can also explore this list of 10 playlists to improve productivity while working. A pro-tip: steer clear of rock/metal or, in general, music that you would physically move to.
4. All Work And No Breaks Won’t Work
Taking regular, strategic breaks is the key to productivity-nirvana. Working or studying non-stop makes you prone to mistakes, boredom, and decision fatigue, not to mention the resultant stress and mental exhaustion. There’s also a chance you get stuck in a rut, and your creative juices stop flowing. Intermittent breaks can rejuvenate your psyche and reinvigorate you to tackle a problem from a different perspective and solve it.
5. Finish The Hardest Task First
You wake up in the morning and probably think, ‘let me go after the low-hanging fruit first’. And then, you proceed to check your email. A better way to improve productivity is to knock off the hardest, most complex, or most time-consuming tasks first. Because you have the most energy at the beginning of the work-day, this ensures you do justice to the task and not just make a half-baked effort at EOD.
Not only will it give you the positive dopamine hit of accomplishing something significant, but it will also reduce your cognitive workload and guarantee peace of mind. You’ll not be running around with the stressful emotion of ‘having a lot on my plate’.
6. Make To-Do Lists
Plan your day the night before. Being aware of the size of the task in front of you can help you budget your time wisely, boosting productivity. To-do lists are an elegant way to divide your workday efficiently. You can assign different priority levels to different tasks and complete them one by one. Tools like Trello, Asana, and Todoist are great for organization and powering through the workday productively. If you’re not too keen on digital tools, sticky notes, whiteboards, or simple pen-and-paper can also be really handy.
7. Don’t Just Work, Work Out
A research report published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine states that work-time exercise can actually improve productivity. People with sedentary lifestyles or desk jobs should do simple back and neck stretches to keep the blood flowing. You should also go for short, brisk walks and keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. This will keep you fresh and clear your head to resume work. Here are some recommended quick stretches to recharge your batteries.
8. The Golden 2-Minute Rule
Made famous by renowned productivity expert David Allen in his best-seller ‘Getting Things Done’, the crux of this rule is, if you can finish off a task in the next 2 minutes, do it immediately. Procrastinating the smaller mundane tasks hampers productivity as it usually takes longer to analyze and complete it later. All repetitive tasks like answering emails, going through the previous day’s notes, watching lecture recaps, follow-ups, washing utensils, folding clothes, et al., should be batched together and completed right away.
9. Reward Yourself
Set small, realistic goals and reward yourself once you achieve them. For example, if you finish with a MOOC module on upGrad, get yourself an ice cream. This creates a positive reinforcement cycle where your mind gets trained to become a productivity machine as it knows it’s due for a dopamine hit. Keep track of the small wins, celebrate the small milestones, and watch your productivity soar through the roof.
10. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Our body is a machine, and a peaceful downtime is necessary for a productive uptime. A 2007 Harvard report claims that sleep deprivation makes our actions more erratic, impairs job performance, and decreases efficiency. Getting enough shut-eye bolsters memory retention, keeps us in high spirits, and sharpens cognitive functions so that you can take those split-second, pressure-cooker decisions with a high degree of confidence.
In this new normal, a huge portion of your travel time is getting saved, which can be re-allocated to learn something new. Knowledge is a moat in the modern economy, so you can explore higher education courses on upGrad, and widen your knowledge base.
Learn data science, Machine Learning, marketing, Block chain, etc., and make the most of the extra free time you get, all at your own pace and from the comfort of your own home. The best part? Get certified, linked to job opportunities, and access to a plethora of resources and a thriving learner community.
Remember, productivity is a journey, not a destination. No one becomes ultra-productive overnight; you need to keep at it constantly till it becomes a habit first and then a way of life. Hopefully, these 10 ways to increase productivity can transform your life for the better and help you master time management.
If you want to utilize this lockdown time to upskill your employees, check out our enterprise upskill page for more information.