Be Productive

Tips to Be Productive in 2018

Ever wish you had a Time Turner?

In the magical world of Harry Potter Hermione Granger used a Time Turner to turn back time. She created 3 extra hours a day to attend classes that ran concurrently allowing her to be productive and get more work done that everyone else.

Wouldn’t that be fantastic? Imagine your typical busy day. You have a plan but throughout the day lots of new thing crop up. At the end of the day you realise you hardly got to work on your planned tasks. No problem, just turn back the clock and get everything done!

But we don’t live in the magical world of Harry Potter, so we need “magical” strategies instead.

Take Control

In today’s hectic and distracted world it can be hard to stay in control of your day and be productive. The constant stream of messages, alerts and requests often cause us to work reactively. It can be frustrating. Most people make good plans and set clear goals but those plans can get side-lined as new requests and alerts arrive. Below we list 3 tips to be productive in 2018.

It can be useful to remind ourselves what we can actually control. We can proactively manage:

  • What we work on
  • How quickly we respond
  • What we prioritise
  • How often we check Email
  • Our energy levels and focus
  • Our mobile phone notifications

So if you decide to be more proactive and take control, here are 3 tips to be productive that will help you do it.

3 Tips To Be Productive

Tip 1 – Know Your Priorities

To maximise your use of time, it is important to know your priorities. Be clear about what is important for your company, your role, your clients and your targets. What are you trying to achieve; what are your long-term goals? Do some thinking and planning. Then set weekly goals and identify the tasks that will achieve these goals. Now you have your day-to-day priorities. Focus on achieving these tasks and protect your time by minimising your distractions.

Remember, if you don’t set your own priorities, someone else probably will.

 Tip 2 – Understand How You Work

The first step in CONTROLLING how you work is KNOWING how you work. Do you know what you end up working on each day? Do you know why? Are you clear about how you are prioritising your work?

You can gather this information by simply reflecting at the end of each day. Ask yourself:

  1. Did I stick to my plan?
  2. Did I end up working on unplanned things?
  3. Was the unplanned work more important?
  4. Did I make the correct decisions?
  5. What and/or who distracted me?

Consider what time of day you are most productive and when you concentrate best. Then plan the important work for these times.

Tip 3 – Control Your Distractions

Take steps to minimise your distractions now that you are aware of them. It may be phone calls, social media notifications, unimportant message alerts or other people’s requests.

We often let ourselves be distracted if it’s a welcome change from a tough (priority) task we are working on. And a change of task can refresh and help you regain focus. The challenge is to control the time you spend on the unplanned task by using a timer to remind you to tune back into your original plan.

To help minimise digital distractions you can do the following:

  • Analyse all the notifications you receive on your phone, tablet of PC.
  • Are you giving them all the same priority?
  • Are you letting a low priority Twitter interaction distract you as much as the alert for an important business Email?
  • Turn off notifications from low priority apps or Email accounts
  • Check Email at a set frequency, as often as you need to stay in touch for your role or business.

Be Productive in 2018

These changes may require a different way of working. It may not be possible to stick to it every day. But on a day that you have an important piece of work to complete and you need some deep-thinking time, take control and protect your precious time.

Try something new in the New Year and you have every chance of making 2018 your most productive year ever.

Stay productive by staying in touch with beproductive.ie  on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram  @beproductive_ie . And checking our website for regular articles and tips. We want to help you be productive all year round not just the first few weeks in January!

Happy New Year.

Be Productive

How to Be Productive in Q4 and Achieve Your Goals

With 3 months left in 2017 this is a great time to be productive. Decide what you can achieve in the time left. Is there a goal from the start of the year that you haven’t been able to start yet? Or maybe a new goal has emerged as the year progressed. You might have work goals or a personal goal or both.

How Productive Can You Be

Well it’s time to get focused, create a simple plan and make Quarter 4 your most productive period this year. How great would it feel to achieve something important and finish the year on a high? How well would that set you up for a productive 2018.

3 months is a good length of time to plan. Not too long to get demotivated but not too short to feel too much pressure.

Your Most Important Goal

First identify which goal you will work on. If it’s a goal you set at the start of the year evaluate if it is still important to you. Is it still relevant? Is it possible to achieve by end 2017?  If so then ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What will it look like or feel like to achieve this goal?
  2. What do I have to do to complete the goal?
  3. Can I break the goal down into sub-goals?
  4. Do I need help or input from anyone else?

Make A Plan

To help you plan what needs to be done break down the goal into smaller sub-goals. Brainstorm each sub-goal to list out the tangible tasks or actions required. You can do this on your own with a pen and paper or with a colleague using post-it notes or flipcharts, etc.

Once you have all your tasks, decide what can be done when. Are some tasks inter-related? Do some tasks depend on the completion of others? Can you identify milestones or achievements along the way so you can tell that you are on track?

Now using a 3 month calendar view map in when you aim to do your tasks. You can use Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Excel or simply create a planner yourself on a chart or board. You can also check out our beproductive.ie Q4 Planner template here.

Measure Progress

You already thought about what achievement of your goal will look like or feel like. This g=helps you decide some measurable targets. What will change? What will be new? Will you start doing something you haven’t done before? Or maybe your goal involves not doing something you currently do!

Don’t over plan

When you are mapping out the work, be realistic about how much time you have. You are probably already busy so where and when can you create “extra” time?

Build in some slippage because life will inevitably throw some unexpected things at you. And if you miss some target dates you may become demotivated. It can work well to overestimate the task times initially to build momentum. Then as you see how things are going, revise the later task times to stretch yourself more.

Also be practical. The last month of Q4 is December and we can’t treat this like a normal month because of all the Christmas activities. So aim to finish your plan mid-December.

Leave a 5 day cushion at the end of your timeline with no tasks planned so you can complete anything that didn’t get done. Then if unexpected things crop up you will still have a chance of completing your overall goal on time.

Track Your Progress

By completing your plan you have actually completed your first milestone. Now you need to work through your tasks tracking your progress as you go. The easiest way is to capture the date you complete things so you can compare the Target Time with the Actual Time. If you miss a Target date does this have a knock-on effect on the remaining Targets? Readjust your plan as required.

With any goals and plans, whether personal or business ones, it can be really useful to tell someone else what you are doing. This can make you more committed to the work which can help on a day when your motivation might be low.

Celebrate What You Achieve

If you complete your tasks and ultimately your overall goal then celebrate! But if you haven’t finished by the end of Q4 don’t despair. Just think of the work you have done so far. This is likely to be a lot more than if you had no Q4 plan. And from your plan you know exactly the tasks that are left so you are more likely to complete out the work.

And you can also celebrate your skills in Project Management. If you have used the approach described here you have used classic Project Management and Project Planning technique. These techniques can be applied to any project large or small, business or personal.

Find What Works For You

Like all our productivity tips at beproductive.ie we recommend that you: 1) tweak our suggested approach to find what works best for your work and 2) stretch yourself a little so you can achieve new things.

Have a productive Q4 and be sure to let us know how you get on. And Contact Us if you want to talk about Productivity training.

Success-Photo-by-Benjamin-Davies-on-Unsplash

Be Productive Surprisingly Sunshine Can Help

Be Productive – The Sunshine Can Help!

Be Productive Surprisingly Sunshine Can Help

We are experiencing some fantastic weather this week in Ireland.  Here is a photo I took earlier at my local beach. The weather forecasters promise it’s going to last for a few days but in Ireland we are always a bit reluctant to believe them. The temptation is to down tools, stop work and get outside to make the most of it. Hopefully some of you have the flexibility to do that but many won’t be able to take time off at short notice.  But I bet you are already making plans to adjust your schedule so you can squeeze in some time to enjoy the sunshine. You may be getting up an hour earlier to take a walk on the beach, or starting earlier so you can finish early. Maybe you prefer to take a long lunch break and work later in the evening to allow for it.

CLEAR GOAL

But take a look at what’s happening.  Because you have a clear, tangible goal (i.e. get out into the sunshine) you much more ffocusedand productive while you are in work.  Have you set a deadline? Are you getting through more work in a shorter space of time? How are you achieving this?

Well a number of things may be happening:

  1. You are not allowing yourselves be distracted so easily
  2. You prioritise the items that are a real priority for today
  3. We take more control of our time and don’t let others distract us

PRIORITISE

And you know these are 3 great habits to use during a regular week (i.e. when it’s lashing rain and there is no rush to get home!!). Set a goal, decide a plan to achieve it, really focus when working on it, don’t let other people or things distract you and really enjoy yourself when you succeed. For more tips read our article on Planning & Prioritising in Business.

So what are you waiting for, stop reading articles online and get out into that sunshine! As ever please share any of your ideas, tips or tools in the Comments below.

If you would like further information on being productive or wish to book a Be Productive training session, please contact Moira or Ann on our Contact Form.