productivity tips

9 Ways I’m Being More Productive in 2016

I’ve never considered myself unproductive. In fact, I consistently get things that need doing done – largely because tasks bug me until they’re completed.

But what I found was increasingly happening is that certain bits of output I needed to get through in a day were getting pushed back to later and later in the day as other things (some more important, some less….) took priority. For example, I might set a day aside to get through some deliverables for a client and then a member of my team needs me for something. The delivery I’d planned to go would get pushed into the evening and I’d be working up until bed time.

So, this year I set about making sure that happened less. I’m realistic enough to know that never working an evening is highly unlikely, but I set about making sure I completed what I set about completing during the day.

So far, so good. I wouldn’t say I’ve got a 100% record (probably  good way off it) but I’m getting things done more quickly more of the time. And here’s 9 of the changes I’ve made in order to do it:

1. Email off.

My email is my biggest distraction. If something comes through that needs actioning, I just come off whatever I’m doing and deal with that, putting the task I was working on on the back burner.

Not Productive.

I’ve made a concerted effort to turn my email off in stints of 20 minutes to an hour when I’m sitting at my desk. It helps me to focus on what I need to get done. And does it really make a difference if I don’t respond to an email for an hour?

No. Not really. If it’s absolutely urgent, they’ll call.

2. A Quiet Hour Each Day

I’ve made time each day to have an hour to work alone. In a busy office, it’s easy to be distracted. So I either arrive early, or take some time before I leave the house in a morning to get things done. This is completely quiet time without the distraction of other things going on around me.

3. More Effective Task Management

Towards the end of last year, we switched our internal task management to Teamwork. This has been incredible. It’s a much slicker system than anything we’ve used before and that, in turn, means I can see more clearly what needs actioning in any given week. The ability to see clearly is half the battle. I believe that, in the past, my productivity has been hampered by the fact I’d spend a notable chunk of any given day working out what needed to happen.

4. Knowing When to Stop for a Break

On some tasks, you reach a point where you’ve worked on it so long that you can no longer see the wood for the trees. Instead of pushing through scenarios like this, I’ve learnt to stop, move on to something else or even go and have a walk and then return to something with a clear head.

If I’m knee deep in technical audits, by 6 hours in, my productivity levels are dropping. Battling through just means I get very little done at any great speed. Going out, getting some air and taking a break means I come back refreshed and get my head back into it.

5. Blocking out Diary Chunks

If I’m working on a specific deliverable or task, I’ve gotten into the habit of blocking out chunks of my diary to do it. It’s something I didn’t do enough before. It means that the time in which I’d expected to get a certain thing done doesn’t end up spent in a meeting or something like that.

6. More Routine

Having a baby really changed my life last year for the better. And in addition to all the wonderful benefits that having a child brings with it, it also got me into a stricter routine. With a baby, routine is everything. If he’s not in his bed by 7:30, he’s moody because he’s tired. He eats at pretty much the same time each day. And what that means is that I have to be in a routine too. I can’t swan off to bed at stupid o clock anymore and I have to have structure to my day.

That has made me more productive because it means I have to have blocked time for working too and it definitely happens.

7. Getting out of the Office at a Reasonable Time

In a similar vein as the above point, I’m now out of the office by 5:30 most evenings. The reality is that if I leave any later, I won’t get chance to see my little boy before he goes to bed.

Before my son, I could easily wile away the early evening in the office without actually achieving all that much.

Now, I’m home by a reasonable time, I get some time with my son and some time with my husband and some time to relax (some nights!). That has me feeling more refreshed the next morning, which in turn has me getting more done in the mornings.

8. Using Pocket!

I’ve started making a concerted effort to use Pocket instead of just reading everything as I come across it. One of my absolute productivity killers is the alerts I get through various alerts tools and through social media for pieces of content I would definitely be interest in. It often takes me away from what I’m doing and off reading.

Now, I love to read. And I think it’s incredibly important in an industry as fast paced as digital marketing that we read constantly.

But now I save stuff to Pocket and read during my evenings. I find the reading relaxing, so it’s a way for me to still feel like I’m getting down time and a way for me to take a distraction out of my day.

9. Having breakfast

I don’t really bother with New Year Resolutions, as such. But this year I did say I’d make more of an effort to have breakfast each morning. And I’ve done well.

It’s so true that breakfast and a cup of tea in the morning sets you up for the day. I feel more energetic when I get into the office and more productive as a result.

There is still a long way to go for me. I won’t give up my iPhone, for example, and perhaps cutting social media out of certain hours of the day would make me even more productive. But I think that’s too big a step just now 😉