Four Ways To Be More Productive

Four Ways To Be More Productive

Four Ways to Become More Productive

By Mark Wager

Work is busy. The paperwork on your desk is stacked high. As soon as you put the phone down, it rings again and when you eventually get to your emails you see nothing but a screen of unopened messages. So you work harder, you work longer and when you do clear your work and meet your targets, your boss turns around and says thank you and as a reward he gives you even more work! Sounds familiar? You would be better rewarded with less work but no, you are given even more work than you struggled with previously. Each and every year people are expected to do more with less. Time is limited so your level of productivity is the most significant factor. The key is not working harder but working smarter so here are a few tips on how you can be a more productive version of yourself.

🔹Tip One: Energy is more important than time
The most important law of productivity is to focus on energy rather than time. You need to be as productive as possible with what little you have available and that can only be done when you have energy.

When work increases our natural instinct is to increase time available in order to complete the work. This is a short term measure and one that fails long term. There will be times you have to work those extra hours but this should be a rarity because if you are not careful then it can easily become the norm. The longer hours you work, the increasingly diminishing returns you receive and with each passing hour you become less and less effective until you become only a shadow of yourself. This increases the likelihood of making mistakes and poor decisions and we all know what comes with mistakes and that is more work. There's no point in working sixty hours in a tired state if you can produce the same amount of work as you do within forty hours when you are fresh.

The first step in ensuring you have enough energy in order to be effective is to get plenty of sleep. Your workload may be keeping you up at night but don't let it because trust me when I say this, your work will be waiting for you in the morning. Its not going anywhere so you might as well get your sleep. At least this way you have a far greater chance clearing your work the next day.

🔹Tip Two: Do what's important and not what's easy
With a higher workload comes stress and when people are stressed they feel a loss of control. In order to deal with this situation we instinctively reach for areas of comfort in order to regain control. This can be a mistake because what is most comfortable may not be what is most important. I often coach Managers who are struggling with workload despite working extremely hard. On investigation I find they keep on delaying certain tasks and these delays generate additional work. Each and every time I find the same pattern emerges. They maintain that they just haven't got around to it yet and are very busy. The real reason is that the delayed tasks are the ones they avoid because they don't like doing these.

To get to the top of your workload, never forget which tasks are the most important. List the tasks that have the most significant impact on the future of your business and those that can't wait until tomorrow. These are the tasks you have to prioritise regardless of how uncomfortable or difficult they may be. Remember everything is difficult at first but with time becomes easy.

🔹Tip Three: Avoid interruptions
In my experience, this is far easier for Managers than it is for frontline staff. The higher you go up the corporate ladder the less reactive your job becomes. Studies have shown that when a person is interrupted in the middle of a typical work task they take on average twenty minutes to get back to the same level of effectiveness that they were just before the interruption. The key to productivity is to avoid interruptions both from other people and yourself. If possible, go to another room or area in order to focus solely on your work but beware of the interruptions you create yourself. The best and worst thing about modern technology is that people can be contacted anytime and anywhere by many sources, mobile, email, social media etc. Consider turning off your phone and switching off the internet. The world will still be there when you finish your work.

🔹Tip Four: Control your work and don't allow the work to control you.
One of the saddest sights when coaching is when I see people placing themselves under extreme levels of stress because of their high workload. People may feel that this is the fault of their boss or employer yet the only person who can control this is you. Stress is a reaction and not a stimuli. Your work is a stimuli so is your bosses reaction. The stress you feel is a reaction to these stimuli and it's you that determines your reaction.

Ask yourself this simple question. What is the state of mind that is most likely to help you achieve whatever is in front of you. Is it a stressed state of mind or a calm state of mind? The answer is simple. If you remain calm you will be more productive than if you are stressed so why chose to be otherwise?

When workload is high it can easily feel like it's the most important thing in your life. We easily fall into the trap of allowing our work to determine our value in the world but a job will never replace what value we can add to the world as a person. Work is important but it should never be the most important.

Work hard and work smart and leave work where it belongs, at the workplace.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

About the Author:
Mark Wager is a key note speaker and an expert in leadership psychology. If you have any questions about leadership you can connect with Mark at Twitter mark_wager or via the enquiry form below.

Posted: Monday 1 February 2016

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