Many of us are familiar with the maxim "Don't mistake activity for productivity." It refers to people who juggle multiple tasks, under the guise of staying busy all the time, without ever inching towards their goal. Their time is completely wasted in thinking about what to do next—leaving no time for the actual job at hand.
To bring a renewed sense of productivity to your work life, we offer this list of 7 ways to use your time more wisely.
1. Prioritize your projects
Prioritization is not only about completing more tasks within a stipulated time frame; it also refers to eliminating unnecessary tasks. Planning and prioritizing offer clarity of thought when you feel like procrastinating. When backed by strong reasoning, prioritization empowers you to focus on the most important target, while shelving unimportant work for later.
2. Know yourself—and avoid comparing yourself to others
It's up to each individual to discover their most productive time of the day. For some, early mornings bring a rush of energy, while for others, late evenings prove best for tasks that demand concentration and mental agility. This self-awareness relieves the confusion of how and when to engage in focused work, helping you make the most of your time.
Work as though you're running your own race. Your thoughts and efforts should be focused on completing the task at hand—not getting bogged down by others' expectations or worrying about how they will meet their own deadlines. Do away with the urge to seek validation or compare yourself to others, and pour that time and energy back into your own work. The results of your work will be better, and you'll avoid a lot of unnecessary stress along the way.
3. Make time for your passions
A clear-cut timetable that balances work with play is imperative to striking the right work-life balance. Irrespective of the task, everyone should engage in hobbies and sports occasionally to bring variety, excitement and rejuvenation into their lives. Good hobbies are effective stress-busters, so make space for them in your daily or weekly timetable. Not only does it give you something to look forward to, but you'll be more relaxed and prepared to tackle the day when you return to work.
4. Unlock the power of saying "No"
Don't bite off more than you can chew. While proving one's competence at work is always a concern nagging at even the most accomplished of us, it's important to be firm in setting realistic boundaries about what you can and can't deliver. We all have our limits, and if you think you're going to burnout from work stress, learning to say "No" to extra assignments will save you in the long run. Rather than spreading yourself thin across a variety of projects, you can dedicate yourself to excelling with your most important ones.
5. Resist the urge to multitask
Doing one thing at a time is the secret behind improved productivity. When we're in a race against the clock, we're all tempted to indulge in multitasking, hoping to complete several jobs within a stipulated time. But none of us deliver our best work this way. The lack of focus and concentration impairs the quality of our creativity, our decision making, and our results. Errors could even lead to repeat work, which defeats the whole point of saving time in the first place.
If you have several items to focus on within the same day, try segmenting your work time into short, focused bursts. The Pomodoro method is a popular strategy where you spend 25 minutes working and 5 resting. This way, you're still focusing when it counts, but also giving yourself the freedom to jump between different tasks.
6. Use reminders to stay motivated
The clock is ticking, and with every passing moment, you should be moving closer to meeting your deadlines. When every second counts, it's critical to stay motivated. Staying motivated will help you push yourself and inspire you to reach ever further to accomplish your goals.
What motivates you? Write it down, and take a moment to review whenever you feel yourself flagging. You might even bring photos to your workplace that remind you of what you're trying to achieve. Maybe it's photos of your family, a gorgeous vacation destination, or an aspirational business card. Having a tangible reminder of what motivates you can provide that last burst of energy you need to cross the finish line.
7. Be honest about your progress
Did your work today bring you closer to your goals, or did you just have a busy day? Honest introspection should become a daily practice as you find out which productivity methods work best for you. Take a few moments at the end of each day to meditate on what went well and what didn't. Consider taking notes so you can tweak your methods as you go along.
There's much pleasure to be had in this time-bound journey called life, and it's important to live each moment to the best of your ability. Discipline and repetition form the key to transforming your habits. We hope these tips help you enjoy more productive and fulfilling days.