By Brian Tracy
Personal productivity is a key differentiator between people who succeed in their chosen fields and those who do not. Individuals at the top of their game have learned how to achieve more and better results in less time than most people. Increasing your productivity is a critical step in achieving your personal and professional goals and creating the success you envision for yourself. To achieve a high level of productivity, focus on the following eleven key areas.
1. Develop clear goals and write them down.
Because higher productivity begins with clear goals, goal setting is a key component of our coaching program. As you know, a goal must be specific and measurable to be effective in guiding your behavior. It must reflect your beliefs and be within your power to achieve.
2. Write a clear action plan.
Next, if you want to turbo-charge your productivity, make sure you have a clear, written plan of action. Every minute you spend in careful planning will save you as many as ten minutes in execution.
3. Set your priorities.
The third step is to prioritize your list. Analyze your list before you take action. Identify and start with the high-value tasks on your list.
4. Concentrate and eliminate distractions.
In this step, choose a high-value activity or task, start on it immediately, and stay with it until it is done. Focusing single-minded attention on one task allows you to complete it far more quickly than starting and stopping.
5. Lengthen your workday but increase your time off.
By starting your workday a little earlier, working through lunchtime, and staying a little later, you can become one of the most productive people in your field.
6. Work harder at what you do.
When you are at work, concentrate on work all the time you are there. Don’t squander your time or fall into the habit of treating the workplace as a community where socializing is acceptable.
7. Pick up the pace.
At work, develop a sense of urgency and maintain a quicker tempo in all your activities. Get on with the job. Dedicate yourself to moving quickly from task to task.
8. Work Smarter.
Focus on the value of the tasks you complete. While the number of hours you put in is important, what matters most is the quality and quantity of results you achieve.
9. Align your work with your skills.
Skill and experience count. You achieve more in less time when you work on tasks at which you are especially skilled or experienced.
10. Bunch your tasks.
Group similar activities and do them all at the same time. Making all your calls, completing all your estimates, or preparing all your presentation slides at the same time allows you to develop speed and skill at each activity.
11. Cut out steps.
Pull several parts of the job together into a single task and eliminate several steps. Where you can, cut lower-value activities completely.
Maximize Your Personal Powers
Your body is like a machine that uses food, water and rest to generate energy that you then use to accomplish important tasks in your life and work.
One of the most important requirements for being happy and productive is for you to guard and nurture your energy levels at all times.
The rule is that your productivity begins to decline after eight or nine hours of work. For this reason, working long hours into the night, although it is sometimes necessary, means that you are usually producing less and less in more and more time. The more tired you get, the worse is your work and the more mistakes you make. At a certain point, like a battery that is run down, you can reach “the wall” and simply be unable to continue.
The fact is that you have specific times during the day when you are at your best. You need to identify these times and discipline yourself to use them on your most important and challenging tasks.
Most people are at their best in the mornings, after a good night's sleep. Some people are better in the afternoons. A few people are most creative and productive in the evenings or late at night.
A major reason for procrastination is fatigue, or attempting to start on a task when you are tired out. You have no energy or enthusiasm. Like a cold engine in the morning, you can't seem to get yourself started.
Whenever you feel overtired and overwhelmed with too much to do and too little time, stop yourself and just say, "All I can do is all I can do."
Sometimes the very best use of your time is to go home early and go to bed and sleep for ten hours straight. This can completely recharge you and enable you to get two or three times as much done the following day, and of a far higher quality, than if you had continued working long into the night.
According to many researchers, the average American is not getting enough sleep relative to the amount of work he or she is doing. Millions of Americans are working in a state of mental fog as the result of working too much and sleeping too little.
One of the smartest things you can do is to turn off the television and get to bed by ten o'clock each night during the week. Sometimes, one extra hour of sleep per night can change your entire life.
Here is a rule for you. Take one full day off every week. During this day, either Saturday or Sunday, you absolutely refuse to read, clear correspondence, catch up on things from the office or do anything else that taxes your brain. Instead, you go to a movie, exercise, spend time with your family, go for a walk or any activity that allows your brain to completely recharge itself. It is true that “a change is as good as a rest.”
Take regular vacations each year, both long weekends and one and two-week breaks to rest and rejuvenate. You are always the most productive after a weekend or a vacation.
Going to bed early five nights a week, sleeping in on the weekends and taking one full day off each week will assure that you have far more energy. This added energy will enable you to overcome procrastination and get started on your major tasks faster and with greater resolve than you ever could if you were tired out.
In addition, to keep your energy levels at their highest, be careful about what you eat. Start the day with a high protein, low fat and low carbohydrate breakfast. Eat salads with fish or chicken at lunch. Avoid sugar, salt, white flour products or deserts. Avoid soft drinks and candy bars or pastries. Feed yourself as you would feed a world class athlete before a competition, because in many respects, that’s what you are before starting work each day.
By eating lean and healthy, exercising regularly and getting lots of rest, you'll get more and better work done, easier and with greater satisfaction than ever before.
About the Author
Brian Tracy is one of America’s most respected authorities on developing organizational and human potential. He is the top selling author of over 50 books that have been translated into dozens of languages.
His insights in to leadership, personal effectiveness, business strategy, and success psychology, which he presents to more than half a million people around the world each year in his talks and seminars, produce immediate changes and long-term results.
His experience, combined with his effective ability to inform, entertain, inspire and motivate audiences, makes him one of the top speakers and trainers in the world today.
Brian Tracy is Chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, a company specializing in the training and development of individuals and organizations. For more information, please visit: www.briantracy.com