Despite rapid advancement in smart gadgets and apps that should help us get more done in less time, entrepreneurs are still seeking ways to increase efficiency and productivity for themselves and their teams. Gone are the days of fewer choices and quicker decisions. Simplicity has become complicated and we may have gotten ourselves into a ‘focus muddle’.
What did we do before smart phones and smart homes? You may think back to the pre-mobile phone era with nostalgia or perhaps you were not born in the era and so cannot relate. I recall a simpler life of being reachable through wire phone only. When phone calls were returned at the end of the day at an appointed time after listening to an answering machine playback voice messages. When returning phone calls after eight hours or the following day was not considered rude. I remember ejecting the answering machine tape and turning it over when it was full so it could record more voice-messages. Nowadays, listening to voice-messages in crowded trains or on the move is not uncommon. Somehow we managed to stay in touch and make it to appointments on-time without last minute phone calls and text messages to cancel or reschedule.
Fast-forward to two-thousand and something, and convenience can sometimes feel incredibly stressful. One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs and leaders is not only the stress but also the lack of focus created by juggling busy schedules, multiple gadgets and the desire to get things done in less time.
Reclaiming sanity and productivity in stressful environments can feel like a dog chasing its own tail. But with some mindful working strategies, it is not an impossible feat.
Here are ten tips to help you minimise stress and increase productivity.
1. Invest in a daily planner or personal organiser
Even with the best assistant in the world, you still need a personal organiser for an at-a-glance catalogue of both set and achieved goals. Whether you are a pen-and-paper person or prefer a gadget to manage your to-do listIdeally, planning your days or tasks will keep work-related stress ulcers at bay.
2. Concentrate on results, not on being busy
The quality of your results is not always dependent on the length of time you spend on a task. A long to-do list does not equal more productivity. Working smart and not hard means focusing attention on activities that deliver the results you want to see in your business, and not on those that simply occupy your time.
3. Set attainable goals
We achieve big goals by a performing a number of mini-goals. Regardless of how big a project is, calculating your time limit and setting daily and weekly targets build up to its completion. Eliminate overwhelm by setting attainable goals and allocating the requisite time to achieve them.
4. Cut out unnecessary social media and TV time
There is no shortage of social media channels or television programmes to distract us from getting things done. Our brains become engaged in such a way that focus becomes difficult even after we switch them off. To avoid wasting hours on end channel-cruising or swiping up and down, allocate specific times in your schedule for favourite programmes or catching up on social media updates.
5. Check your associations
It’s not news that we are the sum total of the company we keep. Spending time with progressive and focused professionals and leaders can work wonders on your productivity. It rubs off and it will show in performance.
6. Avoid procrastinating
Why put off until later what you can do now? Panic-mode is when you realise at the 11th hour that you a deadline has been missed or an important appointment overlooked. Getting things done on time means that your inefficiency does not become someone else’s emergency. Some missed opportunities never come back twice.
7. Get the most out of waiting time
In the unavoidable instances where someone is late for an appointment, your waiting time can become the extra time you need to get something important in your schedule done. Read a chapter of that important book, make calls, stretch – something. Getting stressed would only makes the appointment fraught with tension, which increases everyone’s blood pressure and can make for an unpleasant meeting.
8. Drop unnecessary tasks
Just because you can do the tasks does not mean you should do them yourself. Working from the zone of your strength will increase your productivity and that of your business. Prioritise your tasks and delegate what is relevant to the specialists in your team. If you do not have an internal team, outsource. You can get more done in less time by spreading the workload.
9. Do not commit to what you know you cannot deliver
The inability to say “no” to requests has many entrepreneurs trapped in stressful and unproductive assignments and projects. Chronic anxiety associated with over-committal can lead to stress-related illness. Accept requests and assignments aligned to the core values, mission and expertise of your business. Bending the rules to satisfy others and strain your time is a recipe for disaster.
10. Embrace regular time-outs
The wellbeing of your business is directly related to your personal wellbeing. Experts recommend relaxation and de-compressing at regular intervals in the day to increase productivity and performance. Take a break from meetings or calls to drink water, stretch or meditate. 15-minutes of rest will increase your output more than working non-stop throughout the day with a stressed mind and tired body.
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Want easy-to-implement tips to help you increase your day-to-day personal productivity? Download our easy-to-read productivity guide with useful tips to get more done in less time. GET IT HERE.