These are my four, fair and square rules for boosting my overall productivity – and unlike the generic advice you find online – it’s actionable, achievable, and actually works.
Rule 1: Plan for things to take way longer than you think they will
Perhaps the biggest myth perpetuated in the world of “productivity” is that you will eventually reach a place where work becomes effortless or passive. That if you work at something for 5-6 years, you’ll suddenly become an automated machine. This is just simply not true.
With life being as unpredictable as it is, you have to plan ahead to give yourself more time to get your work done.
A good rule of thumb is to double the time you think it takes. If you think it will take you 3 days to complete a small project, estimate up to six days. This is especially true if you have clients – it’s much more professional to get work done quicker in a longer estimated period of time, than pushing back deadlines because you bit off more than you could chew.
Remember: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Rule 2: Process similar tasks at same time.
Get this: multitasking is a myth; we’re not designed for it. Anyone who says they can multitask is basically admitting that they can do 3 or more tasks to a very low standard.
That’s why I recommend putting tasks into categories that are similar – like communication, creation, and maintenance. For example, if you have several phone calls to make, that will go under “communication”.
It would be better to schedule all your phone calls on one day, because by the time you’re on your last call you will feel more confident and articulate. If you decide to only schedule a call in between writing emails, chances are that your verbal communication will be lacking.
Rule 3: Increase your uninterrupted work hours
What do I mean by this? I don’t mean increase the hours in your working day. We want to avoid burnout as much as possible.
If you live with your family, a partner or friends/roommates – chances are they have been interrupting you every single day and taking away your little concentration breakthroughs. They might not mean to, but idle chit chat can take away a lot of mission-critical time.
You can choose to work in a separate area or simply inform the people around you that you wish to be left in peace.
Rule 4: Don’t put off hardest tasks
If you want to be productive, you have to use and conserve your energy in strategic cycles. We tend to avoid hard tasks because they require too much of our cognitive capacity. But here’s the thing: if you avoid something, you create more anxiety around it –and before you know it, this anxiety will permeate every aspect of your working life.
It’s better to get it out of your way and take a load off your mind.
So, there you have it – implement these 4 rules and watch your productivity progress to new heights.