“I need more time! I can’t stand the chaos…”
Productivity is crucial in the life of any business. Without being overly dramatic – it can be the difference between becoming a success or a statistic. At the same time, I recognize that bad habits can be hard to overcome. However, there are seven ways that we can improve productivity within our businesses:
- Tracking Production
It can be hard for an individual to know how time has slipped by each day. A terrific app that helps identity where the time goes is RescueTime. This secure app tracks what an individual does on various websites and applications. When the day is done, it can give various reports to show where an individual spends most of his or her time. Some of my friends and clients have used this app and have discovered where most of their time was going. It is sometimes shocking to see the true results. It enabled them to use their time more wisely (http://www.rescuetime.com).
- Put Away Social Media
It seems obvious to put away a smartphone while at work. However, it can be so easy to look at it for current event updates or that social text from that special someone. I remember one coworker being astounded to how much time he wasted each day playing games and updating his social status while he was at work. Fortunately, there is help. Cold Turkey is an app that is ideal for people who need to stop picking up their phones. It can block websites and lock users from using it for a set amount of time. It can be ideal for staying on task (http://getcoldturkey.com/). Playing games during the day is for children. Serious professionals need to be about business…
- Take a Break
Now I know how this may sound out there, but the reality is that it is crucial for people to take their breaks. It can be hard to take a break when there is a deadline that needs to be done, but there is mounting research that is showing that people who take breaks are more productive than people who choose to skip their breaks. If there is a client that is being helped, a break can be postponed, but people who have a regular break will find that they are refreshed and ready to do productive work (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/jobs/take-breaks-regularly-to-stay-on-schedule-workstation.html?_r=0). A great technique is to schedule time blocks of 50 minutes with 10 minute breaks. Personally this has produced amazing results. More focus and more discipline to achieve greater outcomes.
- Eat Breakfast Consistently
Don’t leave me here! You are by far the most important productivity tool in your business. You need to take care of it. I used to skip breakfast regularly. I started that bad habit early in my Air Force days and used to do it for years. Finally, I decided to have breakfast on a daily basis before I went to work. Yes, it meant that I had to get up earlier, but I found myself better prepared for the day and ready for what may come. I have challenged some of my friends to a breakfast challenge to see if they would eat breakfast consistently for a month. They tried it and found that they were more productive throughout their time at work (https://www.yourdocmedical.co.uk/articles/195). Jump starting your bodies “engine” early is important for managing your weight.
- Dress Up Consistently
Oops, I will certainly lose people here. We live in a casual society, but I remember when people used to dress up on a daily basis. People who look great and dress professionally are more likely to be productive. More discount stores have great suits, ties and dresses that are ideal for people who go to the office. People do not have to dip into savings to look great each day. Remember that how an individual dresses impacts how they perform at a job (http://www.medicaldaily.com/dress-impress-new-perspective-says-study-psychology-behind-power-suit-331736). Check out this study. There are 100 more just like it.
- Making a List
This continues to be the king of productivity. There is always something to do at the office. Some tasks are important, but other tasks are menial and can be put off for a time. When I enter the office each day, I make a list of tasks that I need to do. Some of the tasks I write down must be done immediately, such as returning calls, making appointments, answering emails and so forth. Other tasks can be put off for a while. When I make a list, I know what needs to be done and am more likely to fulfill the list on a daily basis. That list is never far from me physically. I typically make the list on a journal – so that I can develop ideas and strategies. It is still hard to draw pictures or flow charts on my smart phone. (Samsung Note 5) I know several highly successful individuals who utilize Evernote (https://evernote.com/) and other great tools. I still prefer the journal.
- Sleep In
Can’t believe I am saying this – but it is true! I just don’t practice what I preach here. However, I am working on it. People function better when they get more sleep. I really did not realize this until daylight saving time occurred a few years ago. When we gained an hour, my friends and contacts were on time and generally in a good mood. However, when we lost an hour, people were late for work and were sometimes grouchy. Individuals who receive the sleep they need tend to be more alert and productive. Making the decision to go to bed even an hour earlier can make a great impact in the life of an individual (http://www.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323301104578257894191502654). When I say sleep in – I am advising 7-8 hours of sleep rather than 4-5 a lot of business owners and sales guys typically get during the week. This has a cumulative affect. If you can’t get the required sleep during the week – plan to catch up on the weekend!
Each of these practices can work for people of different ages. Success does not always happen immediately, but each practice does make a great difference. People can make a good change even today.