5 Simple Ways to Boost Your Personal Productivity

Business.com / Career / Last Modified: August 29, 2017
Photo credit: Olivier Le Moal/Shutterstock

The easiest way to increase your income is to raise your current productivity. It is the execution that leads to success. This article shares the top five ways to enhance your personal productivity.

The last time I checked, everyone got 24 hours a day to work, enjoy, eat, sleep, drink, think, talk and do. So, to get more work done and be more successful, you can either work more and enjoy less, or work smarter and get the same (if not more) success, without compromising on quality of life. I'm sure you prefer the latter, and that's why productivity hacking is such a necessary piece of knowledge for the smart human. In this guide, we'll share five simple ways to boost your personal productivity.

1. Prioritize.

You have tasks that lead you to your goals, and then you have tasks that just add clutter to your work logs and lists. The key to productivity improvement is to say "yes" to goal-focused tasks, and say "no" or "maybe" to others. This is the gist of prioritizing. If you were to ignore every other piece of advice about productivity ever given to you and just retain one, this should be it.

Prioritization is all about working along a purposeful path, being super aware of what you need to achieve. Everything that's not on that path can be delegated or left for later. If you're confused about the importance of a task, ask yourself why you're focusing on it, and if the answer doesn't sit well with your goals, relegate it down your priority list.

The revitalizing sense of having had a productive day doesn't have as much to do with the quantity of work you get done as it has with the implications of the work you do. Do what's high-priority, and you'll find yourself more productive than your unorganized counterparts.

2. Experiment with proven productivity improvement methods.

Here are some well-known productivity improvement frameworks and methods:

The Eisenhower Matrix

The 34th U.S. president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, developed this matrix to reduce the effort of deciding what to do and when. Create four quadrants of a matrix, with "urgency" on the X axis and "importance" on the Y axis. Write your tasks in the quadrants, and then number them 1-4 going counterclockwise. Do your tasks in that sequence, meaning you start with those that are both urgent and important, and end with those that are neither. Here's an example.

80/20 rule

The good old Pareto principle stays true: Getting 20 percent of the most important tasks done will take care of 80 percent of your productivity worries for the day.

Ivy Lee method

Before you close your workday, spend five minutes to prepare a priority list of six tasks you need to do the next day. Then, on the next day, do them one by one, only going to the subsequent task once the current one is complete.

These three methods have stood the test of time for a reason. CEOs, service professionals, presidents and entrepreneurs, among others, rely on these methods and will continue to do so. There's every reason for you to take the leap and see what works for you.

3. Get a good night's sleep.

Sleep helps your brain work at its full capacity. People who get adequate sleep are more productive. When you're asleep, your brain is recuperating from that day's work and preparing for what lays in store for tomorrow. New pathways to store new information are created during sleep.

Whether you're learning to code, perfecting your golf skills, solving a complicated puzzle or preparing an all-important business plan to pitch to investors, sleep will help your brain improve learning, enhance your attention, and enable quicker and objective decision-making.

Your mattress plays an important role in your sleep. You must choose a mattress based on your sleeping patterns and budget. You can identify whether you are a super sleeper or sleep-deprived and decide how much sleep you actually need to carry out your regular duties. Sleep deprivation alters brain activity in many areas, negatively affecting your decision-making, problem-solving and emotional behaviors. From struggling to fall asleep, you can even become a victim of serious chronic disorders. Hence, get a good night's sleep to stay productive.

4. Make use of travel time.

If you're not already using your travel time smartly, here are some tips:

  • Have your podcasts and educational video content ready before you travel.
  • Get a good mobile internet connection, a pair of Bluetooth headphones and an e-reader – that's a must-have toolkit for the productive traveler.
  • Catch up on some calls and emails as you travel.
  • Keep an e-book reader handy; when the laptop battery is drained, you want some good content at the ready.

For many people, working in a train or cab is like working in a coffee shop, with the white noise actually helping them focus more on the task at hand.

5. Learn productivity hacks.

Here are some effective productivity hacks:

  • Use the two-minute rule, utilizing short time spaces to complete trivial and quickly doable tasks.
  • Set yourself deadlines, even for open-ended projects – the stress it creates is actually helpful.
  • Avoid multitasking; psychologists agree that it can actually bring down your productivity.
  • Set aside time to answer emails; don't let them direct your workday. Turn off notifications!

Start with a few of the personal productivity tips, tricks, methods, frameworks and hacks in this guide. See what works for you, then create your own productivity-boost plan.

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