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5 Ways to Have Your Most Productive Day Yet

by Tiffany Napper - March 04, 2020

Follow along with Tiffany @tiffanynapper.

2015 called and they want their hustle back.

Glorifying the hustle is so five years ago. Sure, working hard and being a team player are important characteristics to have. But when did we forget it’s equally important to take time to rest? Case studies have shown that we aren’t nearly as productive as we once were. In fact, according to a 2018 Gallup study, burnout is on the rise and two core reasons for this were unmanageable workloads and time pressure. So, with that, I gladly say, “Buh-bye burnout, hello balance.”

Developing a healthier hustle isn’t about getting more done so that you can keep grinding away. It’s about getting more done so you can participate in activities that don’t have a direct R.O.I. (return on investment) for your job or company. The mission is to get the work done in less time so that you can experience increased productivity, which results in less stress and more time to do what makes you happy. Below, we explore this concept further.

5 Steps to Better Productivity 

1. “Time Batch” Your Hours and Days 

If you’re not familiar with the phrase “time batching,” it’s a method of grouping similar tasks. For example, rather than responding to social media comments throughout your day, pick a one or two-hour window to respond, then move on to the next group of tasks on your list. My favorite way to use this system is to time batch my daysnot just my hours. I reserve certain days of the week for specific tasks. For example, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I take meetings with clients, and on Mondays and Fridays, I’m in creation mode.

Studies show multitasking is counterproductive and requires more brainpower than when we focus on one task at a time. When you time batch your hours and days, you may just catch that momentum wave you’ve been so desperately missing.

2. Do Your Most Important Tasks Before Lunch

It may seem obvious to do the most important tasks first, but how often do you look at your to-do list and start trudging through it without being mindful of the items that are the most important? A lot of us fall into this trap, so here’s a tip: you’ll feel more fulfilled and less stressed if you tick off the most important tasks before lunch.

If you’re using the weekly time batching technique from Tip #1, try to reserve room for projects in the mornings, rather than filling up your morning hours with meetings. I strategically place my client meetings in the afternoons so that I can spend my mornings doing the work before I potentially get distracted or pulled off course. Try it and see if it works for yourself!

3. Quit Multitasking

If you find yourself flustered and frantically moving from one thing to the next, never really feeling like you’re getting anything done, close some browser windows. Put your phone in airplane mode for an hour. Close your inbox, which leads me to the next tip...

4. Check Your E-mail Less Frequently

We may feel tied to our inboxes, but the truth is (for most of us, anyway) life will go on if we don’t respond right away. (This tip won’t apply to every profession – lawyers and customer service reps, I see you.) But for many of us, constantly checking email puts us in a reactionary mode, and we thrive in a proactive mode!

Try establishing two to three times a day when you check and respond to your emails. For example, if you’re at work by 8 a.m., consider checking your email at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. That gives you time to work on projects in-between without distractions. If you simply cannot limit your inbox time, try shutting down your email program for one hour at a time when you are working on a project that requires full attention. Limiting your distractions will help you accomplish more in less time.

5. Talk to Yourself Differently

If you find yourself thinking, “I have so much to do, how will I possibly get it done?” guess what, you probably won’t! Focusing on the negative isn’t the key to reaching a positive outcome. Instead, catch yourself and reframe the narrative: “I have to do x, y, and z by Friday. I’ll break the projects down into manageable deadlines, and I’ll have everything done by Friday afternoon.”

If that doesn’t work, consider if you need to call in for reinforcement. Can you outsource something? Ask yourself, “What are the steps to get the job done?”; then make a plan and tell yourself you can do it. The words and phrases you say to yourself create the feelings you have (less stressed vs more stressed, motivated vs defeated). You act on your feelings whether they support you or not, so learning how to make them work for you is a key to crossing tasks off your to-do list. In turn, this can mean an extra 10 minutes for dry brushing in the morning, or a 60-minute yoga class in the afternoon.

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