In terms of hours in a day, we’re all on an equal playing field: each of us has 24 of them. No more. No less.
When it comes to being successful in business, it all boils down to how well you use those 24 hours.
And no… Business productivity and success are not reserved for a select few. In fact, they can be yours with concentrated effort and commitment to change.
Read on to learn about 3 business productivity hacks that will further your understanding (and practice) of how to increase productivity and foster business success in any industry.
#1 ditch your To Do List
Lists don’t work for many of us for a variety of reasons.
- There’s typically no deadline associated with the items on them
- Their sheer length is often daunting to behold
- The items run the gamut in scope, responsibility, and requirements
- They are easy to put aside and forget about
- They aren’t typically prioritized in any actionable way
Instead of keeping to do lists in various places, put everything you need to do in your calendar. Yes, your calendar. This is ideal for three very important reasons:
- You can schedule to do tasks directlyl into your workday, providing deadline constraints
- You can keep to do tasks on your agenda even when you need to shift their day/time
- You gain control of your work week
If you want to know how to increase productivity at the most basic level, start with getting rid of your to do lists. However, this approach isn’t for everyone. Arguably, some professionals may even find that to do lists make them more productive.
but if you can’t…
If you must keep to do lists, here are a few of the top productivity apps to use:
- Wunderlist helps you organize your personal and professional tasks in one place, and gives you the ability to share your lists. Wunderlist is considered one of the best productivity apps for android and one of the best productivity apps for iPhone.
- Things is a hybrid to do list app and task management app. I love their description: “You shouldn’t have to read a manual to become more productive, or try to understand complex inspector windows. After all, isn’t the whole point of a task manager to make your life easier?” I couldn’t agree more.
- 30/30 fuses task management with a timer. Unlike a calendar, 30/30 keeps your to do list within the confines of a series of alarms that you set up. It’s perfect for those who tend to overspend their time on tasks, and is a useful tool to help you realistically manage expectations in order to stay productive on a consistent basis.
#2 avoid duplicating your efforts
We often find ourselves with a few minutes of time in a waiting room, at a child’s after school activity, before a meeting, at lunch, etc. Because our phones are always close by, we peruse a variety of content like we’re window shopping. We bookmark items, drag things to folders, assign stars and colors, or similarly save content for later action.
Typically, most of us jump into our emails to sift through them…but hardly ever reply until later due to lack of time.
Yet, we use up even more time later when we re-read, share, reply to, and otherwise engage with that very same content. If you’re like the majority of us, chances are you do this more often than not.
Such a waste of our precious time.
Don’t do the same task twice. In realtion to emails, if you don’t have time to reply then don’t read it.
When you do have a moment to look at emails, either delete them or reply to them. If you must keep them (receipts, kid’s school info, travel itinerary), put them in specific folders and only return to them to reference the information they contain.
Another option is to delegate your email inbox management to a virtual administrative assistant.
Delegating is often a challenge for high performing executives and business owners who are used to touching every aspect of their tasks and processes. But not delegating is a massive handicap for them and their business, since delegating is the best way for executives and business owners to maximize their ability to effectively handle multiple demands on their limited time. After all, highly productive professionals are very discerning when it comes to how they spend their energy and time.
The best practice for delegating is to take on only those tasks that no one else but you can do. Everything else should be delegated. So ask yourself: Does this task need to be accomplished? If no, throw out the task. If yes, decide if the task is crucial for you to accomplish or if someone else can own the task.
When you hire a virtual assistant there are numerous cost and time savings to take advantage of that will increase your productivity exponentially, since the best virtual assistant services will make sure your virtual administrative assistant only adds to your business’s success and growth.
You really don’t need to do everything yourself. Hire a virtual assistant to free up your time for the tasks that you — and you alone — can do.
#3 stop Multitasking
Have you ever felt like a complete slacker for tackling just one task or project at a time when someone brags about (or is praised for) their ability to mutlitask? Well, you shouldn’t feel bad at all. In fact, you should take heart. Because multitasking is a proven productivity killer.
Dr. Glenn Wilson, a psychiatrist at King’s College London University, found the IQ of workers who tried to multitask fell by 10 points, which is equal to missing a whole night’s sleep and more than double the 4 point fall seen after smoking marijuana. Multitasking leads to lost productivity and concentration, which increases exponentially in accordance with the complexity of the task involved.
So focus solely on top business priorities to increase your productivity, because our brains just aren’t awesome at multitasking even though many still advocate for developing it as a success-inducing habit.
Misinformation abounds, like so…
Start a task or project and then…finish it! Schedule time on your calendar, and focus on that item until it’s complete. If you don’t (or can’t) complete it, accomplish as much as you can before moving on to the next item on your list (or in your calendar, since that’s the best practice for productivity’s sake).
What happens when you can’t help but get distracted by ringing phones, urgent instant messages, and employees asking for your help?
Hire a virtual assistant to keep everyone and everything at bay while the virtual administrative assistant also takes care of your low priority tasks so you can focus your attention only on what will add value to your position and your business.
And always remember…
Work Smarter Not Harder
Successful executives and business founders learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others.
To increase your productivity with the above 3 hacks, follow these 3 steps:
- Discover what your weaknesses/bad habits are
- Devote yourself to prioritizing change
- Execute daily on the work to be done