How to be more productive

Posted by Annemie Burger on December 8, 2016 at 7:00 AM
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After reading thousands of articles on how to be more productive, we’ve discovered there are only a few ways to achieve this elusive goal in today’s day and age. Productivity is not only about achieving more in less time, but also using the available tools, techniques and tips to improve your overall results.

According to Entrepreneur Magazine, a publication providing actionable advice on entrepreneurship and small businesses, we need to “dedicate our attention to one thing and make success more likely, or commit to many things and make success less likely. If we seek to be more productive, we must accept the proper order in which to organise our resources: courage first, then wisdom and finally labour.”

Although there are thousands of productivity and time management applications available on the market, it might take only listening to a podcast to get you back on track. We stumbled across Freakonomics Radio, an award-winning weekly podcast discussing socio-economic issues for a general audience. The episode on How to Be More Productive focuses on how to get more done in much less time.

Here are our key takeaways from the episode:

  1. Key tools for productivity freaks
  • Motivation

Motivation in the workplace has a direct impact on an employee’s productivity levels. People need motivation to feel good about their jobs and perform optimally.

  • Focus

Nowadays, our working environment requires more focus and creativity than in previous years. However, it’s easy to get distracted and focus on other things rather than the important tasks at hand. We need to start teaching ourselves how to focus on important things that need to be completed immediately. Charles Duhigg, reporter and editor at the New York Times states, “We train ourselves how to pay attention to the right things and ignore distractions by building mental models, which means that we essentially narrate to ourselves what’s going on as it goes on around us.”

  • Goal-setting

Always have a SMART goal in mind- i.e. a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Think of a small professional or personal goal you want to set right now and work towards a clear objective to reach a milestone. Duhigg continues, “You take a component of this big ambition and you say specifically what you want to get done and how you’re going to measure it and is that achievable? Like if you want to do something, do you have to clear your schedule in the morning? Is it realistic?” SMART goals are one of the most effective ways used to achieve your goals. Always keep in mind what you’d like to achieve by what time and you’ll be well on your way to success.

For the complete list of key tools, visit Freakonomics.

  1. Learn a new skill and have fun

It’s possible to boost your productivity by only focusing on one specific skill. Steve Levitt, co-author at Freakonomics and economist at the University of Chicago, believes ]you’ll only get good at something if you keep practicing. Added to this is the element of fun: most people are tempted to quit if they’re not enjoying something. Lifehack, a website providing tips to improve all aspects of life, notes, “Productive business people look for hobbies that will encourage their learning everyday. They explore. They are open to new great things that could help them grow mentally, physically, and emotionally.” Don’t get too caught up with business that you forget to have fun. Arrange your goals so that you are still happy with completing tasks, even while you are working.

  1. Be productive in a sea of technology

Regardless of the type of work we do, we still need access to information and content on a daily basis. According to Menawat & Co, a company providing software and services to improve operational and financial performance, “Mobile technologies have made communication very easy. Seeking out more information is just a few clicks away. Then why are we not more productive? With the avalanche of information falling upon us from every direction it would seem that we should be making better decisions and gaining productivity. Unfortunately, it is an illusion; the data bares it out.” However, there is more to being productive than just looking busy - it all starts with being more effective and choosing the correct tools to boost your productivity in a personal and business capacity. Remember that spending time online can also make you less productive as a quick YouTube video or a catchy tweet may seem more enticing than ticking off a task on your to-do list.

  1. Be productive with a plan

It is good to think of your short and long term goals, but even better to define a plan, stick to it and use it daily. Plan every day by making a short to do list. Start by doing the following:

  • Set out the most important tasks that need to be completed every day;
  • Try steer away from low productivity vices;
  • Do something meaningful;
  • Prioritise your time.

For more interesting tips on productivity and time management, visit the Penquin blog and sign up to receive more information on this topic.

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Topics: Productivity

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