If you want to amp up your productivity this year, start by setting yourself up for success! Outline your goals, make better to-do lists, and work efficiently. End each workday feeling accomplished and on track. Adopt these productivity hacks to make this year your most productive yet!
To set yourself up for success this year, outline your big goals. Think high level at first with broad goals that align with your team. Once you have some initial, high level goals, drill down to smaller benchmarks and tasks that will help you meet them. Meet with your team to get on the same page and set priorities. Enter your goals into a project management system to share with colleagues and track your progress throughout the year.
To-do lists serve two main purposes: they outline the things you need to get done (of course), but they also make it so you don’t have to actively remember all your projects and tasks. Save yourself some bandwidth by keeping an up-to-date to-do list with both long term projects and short term tasks. Take notes often, in meetings, during phone calls, and as you sort through your emails so you don’t have to keep a mental list.
Break down larger projects into bite-sized chunks so you can tackle one small part of the overall project at a time. Track your progress and give yourself a pat on the back with every to-do you check off. Digitize your list so you can easily reorganize as priorities shift. This can be an online project management tool, an app on your phone, or a simple spreadsheet. Set deadlines for everything, even if it’s just a self-imposed one. The urgency of an approaching deadline will motivate you to get it done.
Everyday, create a short list of the specific tasks that you can realistically complete that day. Whether these are one-off projects or a small task that gets you closer to completing a larger project, breaking it all down and checking things off throughout the day will keep you on track. Make sure to constantly evaluate priorities, keeping in mind the urgency and importance of each task.
To really amp up your productivity, cut out the excess. Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion.” Cut the default for meetings from 1 hr to 45 minutes (or from 30 minutes to 20); you’ll be surprised to discover you can cover all the same information in less time. Identify the things you do every day that seem to take much more time than they should and streamline those processes or cut those tasks entirely. Schedule time to wrangle your inbox, like checking email every few hours rather than constantly. Unsubscribe from emails lists that you no longer need and set up rules on your email to move unimportant emails to a folder automatically, keeping your inbox at a manageable level.
Stay focused on the task at hand by turning off desktop and smartphone notifications. When you’re in the middle of a project and you get a pop up on your screen, it takes much longer than you’d think to refocus and get back into the groove. Silence your phone or put it on Do Not Disturb while you’re working. Minimize distractions in every way possible to help you maintain focus and work more efficiently.
You may think you’re good at multitasking (we all do!), but you’re actually doing two things poorly rather than one thing productively. Focus on the most important task at hand and force yourself to do just one thing at a time. When you’re ready to switch gears, go for it! But don’t try to do it all at once.