I am a big fan of anything that helps me be more productive. Not only do I love the sense of accomplishment of having things done, but the less time I can spend on work or chores, the more time I can spend relaxing. What? I’m lazy.
Here are five productivity tips that work for me:
- Set a deadline. Nothing gets me focused like an imminent deadline, especially for a task I don’t want to do. Since many tasks don’t have true deadlines, I like to ask people to give me one. Knowing someone else is expecting me to deliver a document at a certain time really helps me work productively on it.
- Sequence smartly. This is something I picked up cooking. If you read a recipe before you start, you can often find ways to save time by sequencing tasks a certain way. If a bunch of different veggies go in the pot at the same time, they also get chopped at the same time and put into the same bowl. Similarly with work, if tasks have commonalities, you can save time by doing them together.
- Change your scenery. I like to work from different places to keep my mind fresh. I sometimes work at home, and sometimes from an office. Wherever I am for the day, I will get up and move around while on calls (a headset is key). Taking a phone call away from my computer helps me to focus.
- Refresh your brain. Taking a break from work to read articles or watch TED videos can help me be better at my tasks when I get back to them. Not only does my brain appreciate the break from the problem at hand, but using the time to learn something “work adjacent” may help with professional development. It’s a win-win.
- Learn your software. This tip may seem lame, but it’s actually the one I am most passionate about. You can save tons of time by learning how to use whatever computer programs make up your work. Keyboard shortcuts, macros, even just not having to search for the right way to do something–the seconds or minutes these save add up. And knowing how to use software well will help keep you from wanting to destroy your laptop with a baseball bat (not that I would ever feel that way!).
What’s your best productivity tip?