According to the definition of productivity, productivity involves being able to generate, create or enhance goods or services. In other words, to be productive you need to have a material impact on something or produce something. Making a to-do list and crossing tasks off the list may seem productive but without a clear purpose and end game you are just crossing off items on a list. In a world where work spills into life and vice versa productivity is an important component of maintaining balance while getting things done. With more to do you need to make every attempt to do it well and efficiently. To that end it is useful to take control of your life by managing your own personal productivity.
Personal Time Analysis
One of the first tasks you can undertake to better manage your productive is a personal time analysis. This requires you to take a little time to better understand just where and how you are spending your time and energy. A personal time analysis requires you to spend time over at least 2 weeks, yes, weeks, to monitor and track how and where you are spending your time.
A simple way of tracking your time includes taking a ‘day planner’ with you and jotting down your activities in 15-minute intervals throughout the day. At the end of 2 weeks you have a snapshot of where your time is being spent. You might be surprised to learn how much time you are spending watching Netflix, following Facebook links to ‘interesting’ stories, responding to emails and more.
If you don’t want to break out the pencil there are a few apps you can use to effectively track and then analyse your time usage.
- Toggl https://toggl.com – this tool can be used for tracking personal, work and team time to the minute and then letting you print lovely reports to show you what you are doing with your time
- RescueTime https://www.rescuetime.com – running in the background it lets you track your time spent on apps and websites (like Facebook, Netflix or Youtube)
- My Minutes (on Itunes) – this apps allows you to set time limits and then nudges you when you go past the time you have defined
- Eternity Time Log (Itunes) – track your time on projects and generate reports on where your time is spent|
- Timely https://www.timelyapp.com – time tracking app
- Timesheet (Google Play Android only) – Can use voice commands to track your time
Once you understand your time usage better you can focus taking back control of your time with a few productivity tips.
7 Steps Towards Productivity
- Manage your physical and mental health: Yes, we are starting with this one because it is a fundamental component of ongoing productivity. You cannot be productive if you are burnt out, tired, stressed. Productivity is often directly related to being healthy. Build into your routine time to exercise, sleep and eat well. Find and establish the routines you need to maintain your health and prioritize it each day. Some good news on the issue of sleep, we have long heard it told that most Canadians do not get enough sleep and that is harming productivity, enough sleep often defined as 8 hours per might. Recently that number has been called into question as research shows that for many adults 6.5 hours of sleep is just fine.
- Create routines: Routines can increase your productivity when you establish routines that help you create good habits. To change your ineffective routines into productive ones you need to put time in over a few weeks and months to make the change stick. Try creating routines that involve blocking time each day to complete specific tasks, to review communications and respond as needed, to regularly delete email messages and more.
- Control technology: Technology can be a blessing and a curse. Technology can increase your productivity by allowing you to manage your communications, to-do-lists, tack activities and more. However, technology can be a time waster if you are constantly switching tools, investigating new technology or more. Source information on technology from others to identify which tools might in fact help you remain productive.
- Claim your time: Treat your time like your money. Evaluate the time you are spending on various task throughout your day. Consider time spent in tasks that do not directly lead to your end goals as costs or liabilities and then determine what your time is worth doing.
- Delegate when you can: Bring on board temporary help at home or at work and identify what tasks you can delegate to. Selecting others who are more skilled or have expertise in an area you need accomplished can be an efficient way to accomplish tasks
- Know your end goals: By understanding your end goals you can evaluate your tasks and determine where they fall in your priority list. Align each task with a purpose to determine if you should continue, alter or drop the task from your list.
- Re-evaluate your priorities regularly: Clearly knowing your goals is important but only contributes to increasing productivity if you then take steps to then ensure your priorities are aligned with your goals. Each day and every week as part of the routine you have established, put aside a short burst of time to question your priorities.
Productivity often means not that you do less but that you get to do more of what you like.