We all want to be more productive at work, especially if it helps eliminate those long days (and nights) or makes work more enjoyable. But what’s the best way to boost your productivity?
At Base, we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can make our customers more productive. It is our mission after all, to make you and your team 10x more productive. (That’s a lot of times more productive!) There are many tips and techniques out there. From the simple ones, like keeping a task list, to the other ones (we’ll call them… complex), like listening to classical music while walking on the treadmill and answering emails. The simple techniques often work the best – and you can take baby steps to get there. Here are some easy-to-implement techniques that will help you boost productivity and add more time to each day:
Get (more) organized
I know, this seems obvious. Organized people get more done. But have you examined your organization techniques? That is, are you sure your processes are the best way to get each and every daily task finished, or did you start randomly flagging your emails years ago, with little rhyme or reason, and still do the exact same thing today?
The best way to organize is to figure out what works for you. Set some simple guidelines for yourself and use the tools that you have at your disposal. For example, if you typically flag important emails with a red flag and it’s the only one you use, perhaps it’s time to expand your options. Define three flags – one for important items to be responded to today, one for tasks to accomplish this week, one for emails on the backburner. Then take it a step further and define a timeframe for your backburner: once a week you block off an hour or two to address these emails, tasks or whatever they may be.
Rethink Your Meetings
Another simple way to organize is to make the best use of your calendar. In meetings non-stop? Start scheduling them for 50 minutes instead of an hour or 25 minutes instead of 30. This gives you time to gather your thoughts before hopping into the next and you can even be on time! In addition, block off time to just work. Mark it as a “do not schedule” time. Make sure you know exactly what you’re doing during that time to make the most out of your blocked time.
Make a “stop doing” list
I wanted to mention my personal favorite, the to-do list, but pretty much everyone has one of those. So instead, let’s talk about its’ not-so-popular brother: the stop doing list. What exactly does that mean? The stop doing list is exactly what it seems – a list of things to stop doing. Everyone has bad habits at work, so choose some reasonable goals and work toward changing those habits.
That always late thing we just talked about? If that’s you, pair it with your shortened meetings and add it to the stop doing list. Are you a constant multi-tasker? While we used to think that made you more productive, experts now say it actually doesn’t. So if you look at your internet browser at the end of the day and have fifteen windows open, add that to the list too. Once you’ve accomplished each task, just like you do with your to do list, cross it off and add something else to the list. Try to keep this list short – aim for three goals at a time to ensure they’re reachable and reasonable.
Use a pomodoro timer
Though this technique was championed by the employees in technical roles, the pomodoro technique has become a widely adopted strategy used by people looking to increase their available work time. It might seem counter-intuitive, but pomodoro builds breaks into your work day to make you more productive. Basically, those employing this technique choose a task, work in 25 minute sprints and take a 3-5 minute break in between. Then, every four pomodori (that’s the plural of pomodoro), take a 25-30 minute break. But really, this technique can be used in any pre-determined time interval that works for you.
Why does using a pomodoro timer work? It forces you to focus, knowing that you get a break later. This means closing Facebook, not taking personal phone calls, closing your email and blocking out all distractions. You’ll have a chance to check Twitter during your break. A less obvious benefit is that choosing a task every 25 minutes forces you to break your work down into manageable chunks and prioritize. Have a bunch of cold calls to make? Spend two pomodori making them. Have a contest with yourself. Reward yourself with a 10 minute break at the end. And some candy. You can find a simple timer to get started here.
Automate where you can
No matter what field you work in, there are bound to be certain things you can automate throughout your work day that will save you precious time. For example, if you’re a marketing manager like myself, you can automate things like your social media postings and email campaigns with tools like Hubspot. If you’re a sales manager, how much time do you waste with things like data entry when you should be selling, or scrambling to find the right documents when you’re on the road? Using an effective sales tracking and CRM software like Base will ensure that you spend more of your time selling and less of your time on administrative tasks that bog you down.
At the end of the day, the techniques that you can implement and keep doing consistently are the best – whatever they may be. Try one out and if it’s not working, don’t be afraid to abandon that ship. Because the very worst productivity technique is one that you have to try too hard to keep doing. Leave a comment below and let us know what you think about these strategies and which techniques work best for you.