I recently wrote an article about boosting your productivity. It must have been something in the air last month, as I noticed a few other articles on the topic on my various social media timelines. One that stood out for me ,was this one by a guy called Chris Ducker.
If you've not heard of Chris, he's is a serial entrepreneur who I have a lot of respect for. He's built some very successful businesses and is probably best known for his business Virtual Staff Finder, his book Virtual Freedom (about building your virtual team), and more recently his Youpreneur community and podcast that supports other entrepreneurs.
I read his blog post above and was happy to see there was a lot of crossover with my own productivity article.
In summary my list was as follows:
- Use your diary properly
- Have some daily rituals
- Minimise distractions
- The 5 minute rule
- Make decisions quickly
And a summary of Chris's was as follows:
- Track your time automatically
- Give yourself less time than you need
- Schedule EVERYTHING
- Speed up your consumption time
- Save email until after lunch.
I'll quickly go through each of his points...~
1.Track your time automatically
Chris recommends some automatic time tracking software called RescueTime. This is something I've also used for a number of years myself. Basically it tracks the tasks you're carrying out and at the end of the week gives you a productivity score (I usually hover around 70% but last week I managed 80%!). Just knowing it's there helps avoid you spending too much time on YouTube or Netflix ;)
2.Give yourself less time than you need
This is an interesting one and it does work. Most of us end up filling a task to the deadline rather than being as efficient as possible. I know what you're thinking, “nope, not me!” as I felt exactly the same. That was until a couple of years ago when my wife was away for a few days. Because of school drop offs and collection my daily working hours ended up being 9:30-15:00 for a week rather than the usual. So effectively I had at least 20 working hours less that week. Bizarrely, I still managed to achieve everything I'd set out to do, and my productivity score (see above!) jumped massively. Something about a hard deadline (i.e. Collecting my children from school!) rather than a loose deadline that doesn't really matter that much really does make you focus.
3. Schedule EVERYTHING
This is along similar lines to my “Use your diary properly” tip. Basically make sure you schedule everything as that way it gets done. If it's not in your diary, most of the time it won't actually get done. Counter intuitively this does seem to free up your time for other things and I love Chris's idea of taking Friday's off. This is something I've toyed with myself but am not ready to commit to it just yet. I do however always have Monday's and Friday's as full office days and don't have external meetings on either. Blocking out my time like this means I have planned desk time each week which is essential.
4. Speed up your consumption time
This is another point that I massively agree with Chris on. I'm a huge fan of Podcasts and audiobooks and also use the speed up trick. Listening in the car rather than it being “dead time” is another thing I do constantly. I also always wear earphones when listening to podcasts when at my desk or out and about walking as it does make you concentrate more.
In the last couple of weeks I've been using earphones that cancel much more noise out than the standard Apple earphones. I've found that this helps me concentrate even more as there's less chance of getting distracted by anything else.
Another App I've been meaning to try out is Blinkist which effectively summarises a whole book for you. So rather than spending 4 hours reading a book, you get all the main points or lessons in about 15 minutes of reading or listening instead. Sounds good to me :)
5. Save email until after lunch.
This links nicely with my “minimise distractions” tip. This is one of the biggest changes I've ever made to improve my productivity. A few years ago now I switched my email off on my laptop and phone. I now only check my emails twice a day so I can concentrate on the tasks I should be doing, rather than just spending the day pinging emails back and forth. If you do send me an email you'll get an autoresponder that tells you the times I check email, points you in the direction of the right person in my team if you don't need me personally, and that if you need me urgently, to give me a ring.
Hopefully all the above gives you even more help in becoming more productive. I'd love to hear your own productivity tips, so do feel free to leave a comment below. Also, if you know someone you think could be more productive, then why not share this, and even tag them in if you're feeling brave ;)