Note: This is a guest post by Glen Allsopp of PluginID
With the current economic situation, we are all looking to get more done in less time. Bosses are working out which staff to keep and which to let go, ex-students are looking to shine for future prospective employers and people who work from home realise they need to get more done on a daily basis.
With that in mind, I thought sharing some of my productivity tips would be of use to many of the Life Optimizer readers. These tips have helped put me in a position of being able to work from home in my own time, on projects that I enjoy.
Twice the Work in Half the Time
Plan Before You Execute – Unless you are one very efficient and productive individual, you’ll find that there are times where we sit down to do a project and then we just wander off into doing something completely different. For me this is common when I have to research something (online) and I end up getting distracted by all the intriguing sites the web has to offer; before I know it I’ve completely stopped focusing on my original task.
To give a personal example of planning before I execute, you could look at my blogging strategy. I always come up with a post title first, but after that I would sit down, open up my blog editor and hope ideas would come to me while typing. This works sometimes, but it’s certainly not very productive, and a blog post can end up taking 3 hours instead of 30 minutes.
Instead, I brainstorm on a piece of paper the main points that I want to cover in the article and then I actually go to my blog editor and start fleshing them out. This might add 10 minutes to my working time initially, but once I sit down it’s a total breeze. Whatever you are going to work on, have a quick plan of what you need to do instead of hoping the ideas will come or dealing with the ‘problem’ when the situation arises.
Work in the Quietest Time Possible – I worked at home for 6 months before moving across the world to South Africa, getting an office job in an industry I love. It was the first time I’ve worked in an office, so it took a while to get used to the activity of my surroundings. I’ve found that, without a doubt, my most productive time is when there is less going on around me.
Our work schedules were fairly flexible, so if I came into the office an hour earlier I would leave an hour earlier, or if I came in an hour later, I then left an hour later (I tended to go for the later option). I noticed that my last hour at work, when most people were at home, was far more productive, even in the same amount of time.
Three key areas I noticed that were the quietest included:
- In the mornings before most people arrived
- In the afternoon when most people had left
- During lunch, therefore I would change my own lunch schedule at times
Even if you don’t work in an office, you can use this to be free from distractions such as your kids, your partner or even just your friends. For example, if you work from home you could wake up early before everyone has gotten out of bed and get cracking on your projects for the day.
Eliminate All Distractions – Work distractions come in many forms. For me, I was often distracted by other websites (my job is online), Email, Instant Messaging clients and phone calls. You need to be aware of what distractions may be affecting you so that you can eliminate them from your environment / schedule.
Other possible distractions include:
- Construction Work
Try to find a quiet place where you can work and eliminate as many distractions as possible. Limit your email checking to only one or twice per day, if you must use Instant Messaging clients then set your status to busy and if you must make phone calls, make them on a lunch hour. It’s likely the receiver will be in a rush to put down the phone, just as much as you.
Outsource What You Can – Before you think you can’t afford outsourcing, think again. You can hire virtual assistants for as little as $3 per hour who are very capable of:
- Sending emails
- Making phone calls
- Conducting research
- Completing documents (providing they have enough information)
- …and much more
If you are dealing with sensitive information, it’s probably best to have your virtual assistant or freelancer sign an NDA (Non-disclosure agreement) so that your confidential information actually stays confidential. I tend to outsource manual work that can be done fairly easy by anybody but takes up a lot of my time. That way, I can focus on my areas of expertise and make more money back which covers my outsourcing fees and works best for me.
Write Down Your Most Important Tasks – Often, it’s not even our own lack of effort that causes some projects to take a long time; it’s simply that we focus on the wrong area to work. Each day before you start to do anything, write down the MIT’s that you would like to complete. MIT’s (Most Important Tasks) are the things which you need to get done which take priority.
Even if you spend all of your working day on the first of those MIT’s, there is no way your day could have been more productive. Think about that one.
What tips do you have for being more productive?
Glen Allsopp writes for PluginID on the subject of Personal Development. His goal is to help people see they can be who they want to be and live the life they want to live.
Photo by Bug-a-Lug