“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” – William Penn We are in a technological era. Innovation is jumping from peak to peak. Intelligent assistants are at our command. Yet a certain paradox exists in the workplace when it comes to productivity; even though we have access to so much technology that minimizes manual busywork, we still waste time. In a Harvard Business Review, Ryan Fuller explains this paradox and analyzes U.S. Government data showing a mere 1-2 percent (per year) productivity growth during the tech boom. Fuller kindly mentions how extremely low and shameful these numbers are. So let’s take control and reverse this paradox. Here are five ways:
1) Plan your day out in advance: set S.M.A.R.T. objectivesProductive people are smart when it comes to setting goal for what they wants to accomplish at work. Here’s what I mean by S.M.A.R.T.:
- Specific: what do you specifically need to accomplish?
- Measurable: How will you measure if you accomplished your goal? Create a checklist, identify numbers, lay out your results.
- Attainable: Are your goals realistic? Don’t try and reach higher than your arm length–even on your tippy toes. You will end up losing your balance and falling.
- Relevant: Is this rightfully prioritized? Make sure your task will be invaluable to your longterm goals.
- Time bound: If not today, when do you plan on accomplishing your goal? You don’t always have someone setting deadlines for you.
2) Limit social media/internet browsingAccording to a survey conducted by Harris Poll in behalf of CareerBuilder in 2016, 2 in 3 workers say they use social media several times a day. The survey queried 2,186 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 3,031 full time workers. Fifty-five percent said personal messaging was the biggest productivity killer. Forty-one percent said it was the internet, and 37 percent said it was Social Media that cost them so much time.
1 in 5 employers think workers are productive less than five hours a day.There is a time and a place for getting sucked into a rabbit hole. The workplace is not one of them. The expectation to be up to date on all of your social media is a real thing. But let’s help you balance out the time you actually spend doing it so it’s not hindering your productivity at work. Here are some suggestions:
- Limit browsing to scheduled breaks (i.e. lunch break)
- Use social blocker apps such as Freedom or Focus
- Or just try hiding your phone or putting it on airplane mode. Whatever you do, don’t have it right-side up, flashing every five minutes with notifications.
3) Become familiar with and utilize productivity appsIn today’s digital world, people increasingly utilize intelligent assistants to not only keep them dialed in, but also to improve efficiency. Boomers may call it lazy, but we call it productive. Thousands of productivity apps crowd the virtual shelves of the app store, ranging from to do lists, to time trackers, to schedulers, that can transform us into accountable, productive individuals. We’ve gathered a few good ones:
- Todoist: Use it to prioritize tasks, alert you with notifications, and collaborate with co-workers. Dominate your day by having a checklist with you everywhere, on every device, and in every situation.
- Promodoro Timer apps: Start a timer, focus until time’s up, take a short break, and get back to it.
- iDonethis: Team productivity app. Teammates share a checklist and view when tasks get done to contribute to the project as a whole, enhancing accountability.
4) Procrastination kills productivityProcrastination. You’ve been warned of it since your first day of school. You’ve heard it all. It’s the “thief,” the “assassin,” of time and opportunity. No matter how many times we’ve been told, we still do it. Why? In an academic article published by Oregon State University, adapted from Ten Days to Self-Esteem, Dr. David Burns addresses six reasons why we procrastinate along with some simple fixes:
The productivity problems and simple fixes listed above are not rocket science, especially when you’re quoting a shoe store slogan. Just get it done, or in other words, just eat a frog. Productive people start out each day by eating a frog, the least appetizing thing on the menu. Start with the tasks you detest the very most. Make sure to chose essential tasks, not just unpalatable ones. Then save the most enjoyable, compelling work for after you complete the core, mammoth to-dos.
5) Motivation improves productivity
“If you must have motivation, think of your paycheck on Friday.” – Noel CowardYes, you work for money. But what else? What gets you up in the morning and pushes you to accomplish each task throughout the day? Maybe it’s that moment you check off every single item from your to do list. Or the satisfaction you get after knocking a presentation out of the park. How about when you receive accolades from your boss? It’s not all about the money. This is your life we’re talking about. Every second of every day, you are developing a new you, a new age, a new character, a new attitude. Aside from the aging part, you get to choose.
- Look at the big picture.
- Make long and short term goals.
- Achieve those goals and it will boost your confidence.
And once you’ve done that, think of how fantastic you’ll feel. We all know being productive feels awesome.
Especially for millennials, the confidence you develop from achieving goals, helping society, and enjoying what you do are much larger motivators than money: “The group has been called lazy, entitled, and spoiled—but at the same time the generation has also been heralded for its collective innovation and desire to work for something other than money.” – Gillian B. White
In The End
“Waste your money and you’re only out of money, but waste your time and you’ve lost a part of your life.” – Michael LeBoeuf