Manage Your Personal Productivity

There is a huge advantage in improving your personal productivity. It doesn’t matter whether you are an employee or you own your own business. The benefits of improving your ability to produce more in the same amount of time are considerable.

The most efficient way to deal with a task is to dump it. Look at the task objectively and ask yourself the question, is it necessary. If it’s not get rid of it off your “to do” list.

The best way to eliminate procrastination is to deal with your most difficult tasks first thing in the morning. This means that you can move on easily to the more enjoyable tasks and your day will be productive.

Work out the times of the day when you are naturally most productive. Allocate your critical tasks for those times. The rest of the working day should be utilized for non-critical tasks. For example, at the end of the working day I am normally brain-dead, so mindless jobs such as photocopying, filing answering e-mails fill in that time.

Without clear goals it is very easy to fall victim to distractions. Make sure that your overriding goals are visible at your workstation or in your office. Remember to have a reality check every now and again during the day. Ask yourself if what you are doing is contributing to your overall goals.

As part of my personal productivity system, I have included 15 minutes a day for thinking. During this 15 minutes each day, I turn off my phones, make sure I’m not going to get any interruptions, put my hands behind my head and think. This thinking time is used for strategic planning and problem solving. It requires a certain amount of discipline to take time out to think because of the temptations of socializing, coffee and other distractions. Some of my best thinking has occurred during this 15 minute break when I have been really creative.

There has been ample research to show that if you change from one task to another, your productivity takes a huge hit. So whenever you start a task don’t stop. Keep on going until it is completed. If you stop and start something else your productivity will take a dive. If another job needs doing, make a note of it and deal with it when you’ve finished the job in hand.

There will be times when you need complete concentration to carry out a task. Once you’ve identified it, allocate a block of time, turn off your phones, ban all interruptions and get on with it.

Remember the old saying, there is only one way to eat an elephant and that is one slice at a time.  Break down your complex projects into smaller and more manageable tasks. With each of these tasks, identified the target you must reach before you can stop working. Use your target as a milestone so that you can reward yourself with a cup of tea or coffee or even a slice of pizza.

I’ve found that the best way to boost my productivity is to break my work down to 55 minute blocks. At the end of the block, I will get up, stretch, walk around and think for five minutes. This energizes me to return to my task.

With a little bit of thought and self-discipline it’s possible to improve your personal productivity. After all, anything that makes your job easier and less stressful is worth investing some time and effort.

Personal Productivity Secrets – Part One

I felt inspired to write this article because of my own battle to become more productive. I usually work alone and seldom collaborate with others. Consequently, my productivity (or lack of it) becomes glaringly obvious.

Realizing this fact, I began to search for tools and techniques to help me improve in the areas of time management, personal productivity, and goal-setting. That was twenty years ago.

Recently, the thought occurred to me that other solo-workers will eventually come to the same conclusion I came to years ago — “If I want to increase my output, I will need to find the techniques to help me”. This is the first article in a five-part series. Following these steps will dramatically boost your results and your own personal productivity.

Before we launch into an avalanche of personal productivity and time management tips — there is one important step for you to complete. You will need to do an assessment of your current time usage. The step requires absolute honesty on your part and no one needs to see your results.

Starting Monday morning, do the following:

1. Get a digital watch, a notepad and pen
2. Record the start and stop time of every activity you do throughout the day
3. At the end of day add up and total the results for each activity
4. On Friday total up the columns

You now have a snapshot of your time usage for the week. The purpose of the exercise is to get a baseline of what you do and exactly how long it takes to do it. From the data you collect you will discover exactly where every minute goes and how efficiently you use your time.

Knowing where you spending your time will provide you with a foundation. Using the information you’ll receive in the next article in this series will help you to build upon that foundation.

Being completely honest with yourself about exactly how long you spend doing things like checking email, searching Facebook and doing low-priority busywork is up to you. No one will care if you fudge your numbers but if you’re serious about improving your performance on the job or at home, then doing this step is immensely important. The result of the assessment is the starting point you’ll build on.

Make the commitment to track your time over the next week and we will look at your results.

Two Quick Ways to Kick-Start Your Personal Productivity

You’re not alone if you think you should be getting a lot more done in a day, considering all the time you put in. Continuous low productivity degrades your morale and builds stress. Besides running the risk of losing your job, you compromise your immune system and increase the probability of stress-related health problems. You also escalate the chances of making mistakes or having a work related accident.

You may not know that the way your brain is wired to work, think, learn and communicate has an impact on your personal productivity. Practical neuroscience provides the understanding and actionable tools to improve your current situation.

Practical Neuroscience Principles of Personal Productivity

You engage with what you’re most attracted to. This includes subject matter and the value received from engaging with the subject. When you don’t like certain tasks at work, there’s a natural resistance and push-back, making it difficult to engage with them. This is the genesis of productivity problems.

You always get more done in less time, with fewer mistakes, when you’re interested in the subject and your brain wiring is aligned with the activity. Conversely, you avoid things that don’t interest you or tasks with requirements misaligned with your brain strengths. Resistance to doing what you naturally don’t want to do decreases engagement and productivity. This builds stress, anxiety and guilt. It can lead to loss of health, peace-of-mind and your job.

Two Quick Ways to Kick-Start Your Personal Productivity

1. Establish value or give yourself a reward

If you’re in a job you intensely dislike, what are its most positive aspects? Examples may be a paycheck, medical coverage and two weeks paid vacation. Concentrate on your most positive thoughts during the workday to help you focus and engage with work activities; then, when you get home, start imagining and working toward a new and better job.

Establish rewards for accomplishing one to two hour “chunks” of work, having identified recognizable progress milestones. Rewards may be short breaks to take a walk, enjoy a snack, look at a travel magazine, write in your journal or look at family photos. Your “mini-rewards” should always involve getting away from your direct workspace, even if it’s for 10 minutes or less. On a macro basis, look forward to the end of each day and imagine doing something nice for yourself and your loved ones. You will be happier and find yourself getting more done.

2. Create the optimum physical environment for the activity

Your brain performs best when the physical environment is aligned with the sensory and cognitive components of the task. For hands-on (Kinesthetic) activities, provide for physical comfort and freedom of movement. Be sure to have all your tools and equipment within easy reach. Visual tasks are best completed in organized and attractive environments, where your eyes can focus on your work. Attentive listening (Auditory) requires a quiet and interruption free environment. Sequential tasks, calling for accuracy and focus, are best accomplished in bright light and cooler temperature. Global work, involving imagination and creative problem solving, requires dim light, warmer temperatures and comfortable furniture.

Keep a positive mental attitude, remember to breathe deeply and drink water throughout the day to oxygenate. Take frequent breaks to refresh and reenergize. These simple methods alone will raise your personal productivity and improve the quality of your work life.

In summary, you have more control over your personal productivity and the quality of your work life than you may imagine. No matter how bad your current work situation is, you can take immediate steps to improve it. Practical neuroscience and knowing how your brain is wired are your pathways to a better and more prosperous life with less stress.

How to Maintain Your Personal Productivity in the Face of a Crisis

In some organizations, personal productivity is shredded by a succession of crises. Every day there is another one or two. Some are old ones repeated and some are brand new ones that have never been seen before. If you are to maintain your personal productivity how are you going to handle crises that suck up your time, drain your energy, make you defer your important priorities and leave you exhausted the end of the working day?

The crisis may come round any corner, may involve any person at any level within the organization or any supplier or customer. Whatever the source of the crisis, the outcomes are sadly similar. The crisis will divert you from your important priorities for the day even though an important deadline is getting closer, you, on the other hand, are stuck with the task of resolving the crisis. At this stage, the enemy of personal productivity appears. Murphy. When you are confronting a crisis, your boss decides that there are other tasks that are important. Then, in the middle of the crisis something else goes wrong. This winds up the tension and creates an environment where tempers get shorter and blame is allocated, sometimes in a loud voice.

Management by crisis means reacting to a crisis and dealing with it after it has occurred. The best way of handling crises is keep them from occurring. With the 20/20 vision of hindsight, it is normally possible to see how to prevent it happening again in the future or to reduce the impact of the crisis. A lot of people will say, “But that’s impossible, if I knew it was going to happen I could plan for it.” These same people, have a first aid kit, a spare tire in their car, food in the cupboard as well as an emergency number by the phone. Now, they don’t know when they might need them but you do know there’s a pretty good chance that you will need them at some point. As a result of this knowledge they have taken reasonable precautions.

To maintain your personal productivity it is worthwhile using the same process. You cannot predict when a crisis will occur, but you can minimize the impact by some careful planning. You may even be able to prevent it. Get yourself and your team into the habit of asking, “What could possibly go wrong here?” Then, “If we fixed that, what else could go wrong?” By trying to anticipate what is likely to happen, you and your team are in a stronger position to fix or alleviate the problem quickly. This means that personal productivity will not be damaged to the same extent. Furthermore, it will leave a sense of achievement with the people who have fixed the problem.