“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – anonymous
Despite what we’re being socialised to believe in this hyper-hyper-connected age, constantly working isn’t a sign that you’re better at your job than the next person. It’s not even a sign that you’re more productive.
More likely than not, it means you’re more distracted and less focused. Or maybe you’re wrongly focused. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with tasks that may not be your responsibility or area of expertise, or are unduly time-consuming. What’s devouring your day and leaving very few crumbs to show for it?
“People often forget that time is money. People usually do things manually because it’s easy and requires almost no research. It is manageable to moderate 30 images on Instagram for your user-generated campaign. But if you have to manage 30 000 photos and videos from 5 different platforms, you need a good digital asset management software. If you cannot build it, buy it.” – CamMi Pham, 7 things you need to stop doing to be more productive
It’s easy to scoff at the (now hackneyed) theory of ‘doing more in less time’. That’s because the theory is seldom backed up with actual, practical tips. I’m not going to tell you to do yoga before your meetings or sleep an extra hour a night because implying that you need to do less to do more is not, actually, going to help you nail this time management thing.
You need to do MORE to do more, and ideally you want to punch it out in shorter, concentrated blocks of time rather than over long, diluted stretches.
- Kill tasks in one sitting. Work out how many hours the project will take, then mark out the time on your calendar and crush it. Don’t stop until it’s done. This centres your energy on the task in a single, powerful shot and saves many hours of weakened focus.
- Delegate tasks you aren’t great at. You know your skillset, so play to it. Focus on honing your skills to their absolute finest to smash out your very best work, and delegate everything else to the relevant experts.
- Implement the two-minute trick. I chatted about this recently and it’s done wonders for my productivity. It’s also helped me get an unmanageable, often overwhelming task list under control.
- Cut out all unnecessary distractions. According to science, willpower may be finite. So what’s draining yours? To remove distractions you first need to identify what they are. If it’s email, schedule times (and time limits) for checking and replying. If it’s social media, turn off your notifications. If it’s other people, get a bright orange traffic cone and make sure people know that when it’s on your desk or outside your door, you’re not to be disturbed.
- Create daily to-do lists containing three items only. This achieves several things: each day, you’ll streamline your focus; you’ll complete three critical tasks, and you’ll have a clear end-point for your work.
- Stop working overtime. Be ruthless about this. It’s proven that shorter work days and work weeks boost your productivity. Six-hour work days are currently being rolled out across Sweden, a country that’s long recognised the value in not exhausting its workforce. “Toyota centres in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, made the switch 13 years ago, with the company reporting happier staff, a lower turnover rate, and an increase in profits in that time,” says Independent.co.uk.
- If you constantly do repetitive tasks, find a program to automate them for you. It’s the digital age – there’s no need to waste time on mind-numbing tasks that a program could do in minutes (or seconds). A simple Google search will return results for almost every kind of automation functionality you may need, whether it’s pulling reports or invoicing clients.
Found these tips useful? Share them with your network, or let me know in the comments.