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Top 10 tips for being highly productive at work

Guest Blog Post By: Sam Mednick

There are countless books and articles available to those looking to increase productivity, but before you can be productive, there is an important point to consider. What are your priorities? No Google search will answer such a personal question. Once you’ve established your priorities and have narrowed down the task list, it’s time to start cranking out some results and be productive at work.

Here are 10 helpful tips on how to be productive, streamline your work to get more done.

1: Cross it off the list: There’s nothing like that euphoric feeling at the end of the day once you’ve crossed something off the list. This feeling is something you’ll remember and want to repeat, thus incentivize you to do more. Even if you’re not into ‘lists’, write it down somewhere just so you can cross it off later.

2. Evernote: I discovered this app while reading the 4-Hour Work Week and haven’t looked back. It is a great organizational system, one that syncs with your laptop, cell phone and tablet and allows you to pretty much eradicate all papers, sticky notes, business cards and anything that can be digitized (which is pretty much everything).

3. Work To Deadline: Perhaps it’s my background in journalism, but I’ve always found it easier to work to deadline. It forces you to structure your day and really manage your time well. If there’s no actual cutoff for the particular project, create one and implement some sort of consequence if you don’t meet it.

4. Gmail Task notes: If you’re not one for calendars and personal agendas, then give task notes a spin. I work from home, with no set hours, so I really need to be on top of my time management. With task notes, I type in exactly what needs to be done every day and check it first thing in the morning. If I’m unable to get to it that day I move it to another day.

5. Delegate: If you’ve prioritized the things that matter, then think about delegating the tasks that you don’t have to do yourself, to those you trust. No need to try and do it all on your own if someone’s available to help.

6. Pareto Principle aka the 80/20 Rule: This rule states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. So 20% of what you do every day produces 80% of the results. For the next project, try breaking it up into steps and remove each step until you’re left with 20% of the tasks. This 20% will yield 80% of the results.  Try focusing your efforts on conquering this 20%.

7. Enjoy ‘Me Time’: Every morning I wake up and spend between 15-30 minutes reading the Economist with my coffee. The days I don’t do it, I feel ‘off’. Me Time is something most of us don’t do enough. Even if it’s only 10-15 minutes a day, it can help to focus, motivate and refresh the mind and body.

8. Practice Self Restraint: There are tons of widgets, apps and programs available to help you steer clear of Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc… But the most realistic and more important, sustainable solution, is to practice some self-restraint. Close all other web Browsers, turn off distractions and tell yourself that for the next chunk of time you’re just going to focus on the task at hand. Start with thirty minutes and move to hourly intervals, depending on the work that needs to be done. The more you do this, the more it will become a habit and the easier it will be to continue.

9. Reward Yourself: Motivate yourself with a prize at the end. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift, it’s just something that will help drive and focus your time and efforts. If you know that, once a certain task is completed you can take five minutes to read a good article or browse the web, it’ll motivate you even more. Down time always tastes that much sweeter if it’s been earned.

10. Don’t Fool Yourself! Perfectionism and Indecision are Synonymous with Procrastination:  Perfectionism does have its advantages and can turn a mediocre project into an outstanding one. Sitting on a situation and weighing options is also beneficial and can avoid rash decisions. But a lot of the time we use these as excuses for not getting started on a project or a task, usually because we don’t want to do it. We’ll put it off because we don’t want to start unless we can do it ‘perfectly’ or unless we’re 100% sure as to all aspects involved. Nothing is ever perfect and it’s hard to be so sure until you’ve given it a stab. So don’t let yourself come up with excuses. Just give it a shot and start. Work through the kinks as you go along, as it’s easier to build on something than to work with nothing.

We often have illusions of ‘productive grandeur’ and when they’re not met with fruition, we’re gravely disappointed. We need to give our productivity some perspective.  Being productive doesn’t mean scratching 1000 things off the list. It means focusing on accomplishing things that matter to us and in turn being more realistic about what we can achieve.

What are your tips for being more productive?

Sam Mednick specializes in time management and motivational coaching as well as small business and transitional coaching. She has studied with Coach U, a university based in Europe and the United States, and is in the final stages of completing her coaching certificate issued by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). A Toronto native, Sam has worked and lived all over the world including Fiji, Argentina, Ireland, Africa, Lebanon, the Philippines and Spain. Her international experience helps bring an open minded and fresh perspective when working with her clients.

Before embarking on her coaching career, Sam worked in Ghana as a foreign correspondent for a Canadian NGO (Journalists for Human Rights), as well, she was the executive radio producer for an internationally syndicated lifestyle show based out of New York City. She is also part owner of a boutique tour company based in Barcelona. 

See Sam’s career coaching philosophies at www.blueprintcoaching.ca

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