The pandemic has disrupted the way we work, and although statistics show increased productivity by up to 47% YOY, we can see that it is not valid for everyone. There are many struggling that don’t know how to be productive in the era of COVID.
As we continue to work remotely with the lack of human connection, we start feeling less motivated and fall prey to distraction, leading to decreased productivity.
Improving productivity is closely linked to having clear goals and planning the time efficiently, and in this article, I will show you exactly how to do this!
By Laura Biclea, Mindset & Success Coach.
How to be more productive.
Have you ever started the day without having a clear goal and plan, to realise the day has ended, and you haven’t been able to accomplish much?
Knowing what you need to achieve and setting daily goals can help you stay on track and ensure your actions are helping you progress towards your goals. One of my biggest tips on how to be productive, is this great goal-setting practise: Spend some time on breaking your goals into monthly actions. As you approach each week, break them into daily activities. This helps you to stay on top of exactly what needs to happen for you to accomplish your goals. Breaking the goals into small daily milestones and actions also makes them feel less overwhelming and more achievable, which can help you overcome procrastination.
I like to take some time each night to write a list of all the things I need to achieve the next day and set my top three priorities. This helps to put all the tasks in a priority matrix and plan my calendar in detail.
Now that we know that one of the secrets on how to be productive is proper daily planning, we will explore two of the powerful techniques that can support you in achieving your productivity goals when combined.
1. Plan your time effectively.
Planning your calendar right has one of the most significant positive impacts when it comes to how to be productive.
Two of my favourite methods that you can use on a daily basis are the Eisenhower Matrix and Pomodoro Technique. I recommend implementing both.
The Eisenhower Matrix
Once you’ve completed your full list of daily actions, break all activities into four boxes like in the below graph.
Often, especially when we have limited time, we think that everything is urgent, but spending a bit of time to map out what is essential can have a significant impact. If you have no one to ask for help and to delegate/ outsource to, keep those at the bottom of your daily list.
Once you’ve mapped out all the quadrants, you can work on each one using the Pomodoro Technique starting from quadrant 1 to 4. Ideally, you should plan your top 3 priorities in the morning. It is likely that you will get fewer distractions and also your brain will have the most power left.
The Pomodoro Technique is quite simple; you work without interruptions on a task in 25 minutes intervals and take 5-minute breaks after each one. After four “Pomodoros” you take a longer break of about 20-30 minutes. Don’t underestimate the breaks; researches show that taking breaks improve productivity by up to 37%!
As you continue through the list, you mark each activity as completed and make sure that during each Pomodoro, you are completely focused and are not getting distracted.
Tip: Make sure that you switch off your notifications, these can quickly kill your productivity, and distract you from what is essential. Switching back from an activity to another takes time for the brain, so be mindful of your interruptions.
Now that we know how to plan our days, I’ll show you how we can use our own body clocks to improve our scheduling and productivity.
2. Work according to your natural body clock.
Have you ever wondered why your energy dips after lunch time and why jet lags have such a large effect on our minds and bodies?
Understanding the circadian rhythm.
When we wake up, for the first three to four hours (when waking up at 7 AM) we have the highest energy levels. Our brain is rested and clear which means that you can focus on the most intense activities, like strategy & planning, creative work, study and intense physical activities, and anything else that require us to think and move intensely.
Our productivity is the highest at 11 AM naturally, and as we approach afternoon at around 2 to 3 PM, our energy dips and we can use that time to focus on tasks that feel easy and we do almost automatically, such as responding to e-mails, making calls and follow-ups, and tasks requiring little energy from our body and brain. A small hack to re-energies during this time is to take a quick nap. Make sure the nap is less than 20 minutes long, to avoid going into a deep sleep cycle.
Then, in the late afternoon, we get another energy spike between 5-7, and that is again a great time to focus on energy-intensive activities both mentally and physically.
After 7 PM, our body and mind start getting into the nighttime mode, and the melatonin starts being produced, which means our body is getting ready for sleep. You can again use this time for tasks that are less important and done automatically.
And that’s how to be more productive!
Working according to your body clock can increase your productivity and performance and work according to it if you want to achieve high performance.
Learning how to plan our time effectively according to our goals, the task importance and urgency and our natural energy levels can have a significant impact on our productivity levels and accomplishments.
Being productive is not something that comes overnight, it is a habit that we get better at as we progress and continuously evolve in. Try to take small, daily steps to improve. In the long run, you WILL be able to achieve more in a shorter amount of time and pursue even bigger goals!
Productivity and time management are the areas Laura focusses on in her coaching programs, to learn more about how she can support you to reach your true potential, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her social media channels @laurabiclea.
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