10 Tips to Increase Productivity

Why are some people more productive than others? Is it a matter of intelligence or personal

ambition? While these are certainly desirable traits, there is no evidence that these characteristics will guaranty high productivity. In fact, there is no universal set of attributes common to all high performers.

Since each individual embodies his own personal strengths, motivations and limitations; a strategy that propels one person to high achievement may not result in any productivity increase for another. It takes time and energy to experiment with different approaches, but this is the only way you will discover what works for you. Here are ten ideas to boost productivity:

Busy Day at the Office

1.) Do your least favorite tasks first.

Most people put off accomplishing tasks they don't enjoy in favor of more pleasant work. It's human nature. But all that foot-dragging eventually catches up with you, leaving you behind on a deadline or with an important job left unfinished. Get into the habit of getting your most dreaded task done before anything else each day, then reward yourself by moving to a part of your job that you enjoy. Not only will you get more accomplished, you will also be happier at work.

2.) Know what you are working toward.

Goal setting is more than just creating a list of the things you would like to accomplish. The real value of setting goals lies in the process of determining what is important to you. Make sure to select strategies that bring you closer to your real goals. For example, if you are working to attain a certain income level, your tactics will be very different from those you would use if your goal was to spend more time with your family.

3.) Give yourself a deadline.

Do you have a long list of action items to accomplish? There are probably a few that have been on your list for a long time. Look closely and you may find that these are the work items that have no deadline attached to them. Unscheduled action items never rise to the top of the list, so give yourself a deadline and reserve time on your calendar to get the task done.

4.) Don't write it down, do it.

You may be adding too many items to your To Do List each day. To be sure, this list is a vital tool for most people. It allows them to focus on the job at hand without losing track of other important assignments. But many people have taken this list writing impulse to the extreme. If you can accomplish the job in under five minutes, do it now! It will take up less time in the long run.

5.) Manage your e-mail interruptions.

It is not uncommon for an average office worker to receive more than a dozen e-mails each and every hour. If you stop what you're doing to read every new e-mail, there is no doubt your productivity will suffer. Establish a schedule for checking your e-mails and set a reminder on your computer. A good rule of thumb is to check e-mail once every two hours.

6.) Have an agenda for every meeting.

No one has time to waste on unproductive meetings. Make the most of each meeting by planning in advance what topics will be covered and what the group will attempt to accomplish. This strategy has several advantages. It makes it easier to ensure the right people are at the meeting. It also gives participants the opportunity to research and discuss the topics to be covered so they are prepared to make decisions. Perhaps most importantly, it allows the moderator of the meeting to bring the conversation back to the stated objectives when things go off course.

7.) Keep track of the little things.

Every really productive business person has developed a system for keeping track of those little details that can easily fall through the cracks. Make sure you have a thoughtful plan to keep track of the details important in your business. Consider matters such as due dates, appointment schedules, articles you need to read, money you need to collect, phone calls you need to make, etc. The important thing is to have a plan.

8.) Make yourself accountable.

While your instincts may tell you to avoid committing yourself beyond the minimum, you can accomplish more by putting your goals on record. Develop optimistic but achievable goals and then publicize them to your colleagues. You will demonstrate your confidence while giving yourself a strong boost in motivation at the same time.

9.) Avoid constant distraction.

Instead of being diverted countless times each day from your intended focus, you can avoid distraction by grouping similar tasks into manageable units. Make a running list of all the things you need to discuss with your assistant instead of scatter-shooting ideas and instructions across the office. Stack phone messages so you can return several calls at once. Put aside several articles you intend to read and make good use of your time on the plane. If you make an effort to use people, equipment and time efficiently your productivity will improve.

10.) Start each day with a clear desk.

Before leaving your office each evening, scan your desk for items that can be filed, delegated or discarded. Update your action list with any new items that have come to your attention, and stack ongoing projects in neat piles. Put away anything you will not be using the next day, and check your calendar to make sure you are prepared for any upcoming meetings. It may be the last thing you feel like doing at the end of a long day at work, but clearing your desk each night pays big dividends in productivity.

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