Between commuting to office, catching up with your inbox, to rushing for review meetings, it’s a hard life, as any entrepreneur will know. They are always on the lookout for ways to get the most out of their day.
The first thing to understand about productivity is that it is not about saving time as it is often perceived, but about conserving energy to do the required tasks. Here’s our list of quick, sure ways to boost your productivity.
Limit access to inbox – One of the most trivial and often unproductive tasks is the inbox notifications. Every time you open your inbox to check/reply to your email you end up spending more time than you intended to. An ex colleague would emphasize on context switch and never let people disturb him while he was working. A great solution to this problem is to batch your emails. Having a 30-minute window at the end of the day when you reply to all emails and do not open the inbox tab during the day while you are working will go a long way.
Use sticky notes to prioritize – Prioritize your to do list, and make sure you keep it limited to only the most important tasks. A great way to do this is to write your daily goals on a sticky note. The good thing about using sticky notes is that it the limited space restricts you from writing elaborate plans. You thus write only the most important tasks and this increases the probability of achieving your target.
Value your workstation time – The time we spend on our desk/workstation is one of the most important and productive times as it provides a perfect working environment. However, most of us tend to use this time for online consumption/trivial activities instead of using it for our daily goals. One of the reasons for this is also the sitting position which tends to make us feel slouchy. The solution to this is to work while standing. Standing posture helps in being mentally alert and thus productivity automatically reaches a higher level helping us work faster. Most of the tasks (facebook, hackernews, emails) which eat up your desk time can also be accomplished while commuting.
Using Pomodoro Technique – I often use Pomodoro Technique to work in short bursts of time. A method developed by Francesco Cirillo to manage time. It utilizes short bursts of 25 minutes to work followed by 5 minutes break. Do not move to another window on your PC until it is absolutely necessary for the task in that 25 minutes burst. Here is a great timer for Pomodoro.
Exploit your Ultradian rhythm – Ultradian rhythm is a sort of biological clock with intervals of 90-120 minutes when we feel energized and get things done. This is generally followed by declining energy levels for up to 30 minutes followed by a period of high energy. The best way to utilize this for peak performance is to identify the peak energy times and then work in Pomodoro cycles and a 10-minute break after two Pomodoros. Once you finish four such cycles take a longer break of 30 minutes to refresh while your rhythm builds up for another energetic cycle.
Do not read news first thing in the morning – Morning is the most productive time and a lot of your work can be accomplished in the mornings. However, most of us start the day by reading the news on the breakfast table which consumes a lot of mental resources and drains us of the energy as well as the most valuable time of the day.
2-minute rule – Introduced by David Allen in his bestselling book, Getting Things Done, 2-minute rule says that “If it takes less than two minutes, then do it now.” Like a phone call you have been planning to make for a long time just to schedule a meeting with a client. How long does it take to do that? Though planning it out makes it look like a dreadful task.
Pareto’s Principle (80/20 Rule) – This is the most famous rule of productivity. 80% of the work only takes 20% of effort. Identify the most important part of your work and spend your energy focusing on it. This is why most tasks can be accomplished during a short period in the day itself.
Wear headphones – Wearing headphones is extremely helpful while working as it helps one zone out of all the distractions and also makes it less likely for people to approach you while you are working thus saving you of precious context switch.
Bonus Tip from Dustin Moskovitz, Co-founder & CEO, Asana; Co-founder, Facebook
“One of my favorite hacks is No Meeting Wednesdays, which we borrowed from Facebook. With very few exceptions, everyone’s calendar is completely clear at least one day out of the week. Whether you are Maker or a Manager, this is an invaluable tool for ensuring you have some contiguous space to do project work. For me personally, it is often the one day each week I get to code.”
He has explained it in detail here.
Also check out this amazing infographic from Funders and Founders on How to be Productive.