I know you want to get your work done and make sure you make progress and accomplish your daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Well, who doesn’t?
We all want to get our work done faster and create results, but the problem is that it is difficult to stay focus and maintain our motivation throughout the day.
Plus, we have to do this day-in and day-out, for at least 5 workdays. And don’t forget that our work is like piles of mountains, before we finish the ones at hand, there comes the new work.
So, how can we get our work done in a faster manner, produce real results, and make real progress?
Well, here are 10 practical tips on how you can improve your productivity and get more things done faster than you thought possible…
1. Start Early
This is a no-brainer. If you want to get more things done, you start early. It’s like giving yourself more time to work on what matters most to you.
Imagine if you can start your work an hour early, it gives you an edge over your competitors who start late. Just like investing, the earlier you start to invest, the more you allow time to work on your side.
The point is that when you start early, like an hour or two earlier than most people, you are giving yourself more time and usually, there are fewer distractions in the early morning.
This is why most successful people wake up early. Check out this list of 10 highly successful people who wake up before 6 AM and begin their day early.
Richard Branson is famously known for his habit of waking up at 5 Am every day. Regardless of where he is, he chooses to arise early because it gives him a head start on the rest of the world.
I recommend you read this book, What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, written by Laura Vanderkam. It is a quick read and an interesting one.
Most successful people prefer to start early because they know that morning is the best time to work on their most productive work. The reason is that usually in the early morning, there will be little or no distractions.
Plus, when you wake up early to either work on yourself, like reading or planning, you are setting the pace for the rest of the day.
2. Create a To-Do List
Guess what will happen when you have no idea what to do when you arrive at work? You will waste time talking to colleagues and scrolling Facebook or Instagram because you have no plan.
This is what happens to most people. When you don’t have an actionable plan, you have no idea what to do, as a result, you become reactive.
You react to things rather than acting proactively.
Things are different when you have a plan and you know what you need to get done. You become proactive. This is why it is important to have a to-do list.
Every morning before I start my work, I will sit in front of my table and the first thing I do is write down what I need to get done. I schedule my list and do what matters most first.
One thing though, just don’t overestimate yourself and list down more than 10 things to do. Usually, I only schedule about 5 or 6 items on my list. I know that if I have more than 6, I won’t be able to complete them all in a day.
It’s like the Ivy Lee Method, where you write down the 6 most important things you need to accomplish and focus on getting the first one done before you go to the next one.
A to-do list works because it is simple enough to actually work. You don’t need a complicated App or software to do it. This method is simple and basic enough that it allows you to focus on your getting the most important work done.
3. Get Rid of All Distractions
There is no way you can focus and get your work done if you are constantly being distracted. The problem with most people is that they allow distractions to get to them.
Never let that happen to you. If you are serious about getting things done and you want to be productive, you must get rid of all possible distractions.
For instance, when I’m writing an article such as this one, I will make sure my phone isn’t around. I don’t want to get distracted by calls or instant messages.
When you are working on your computer, try to focus on your work. If you are not using the internet, then disconnect yourself from it.
You don’t want to get distracted and scroll on Facebook for 20 minutes or end up watching YouTube for another 30 minutes.
Distractions will slow you down. Plus, they are the reason you can’t seem to finish your work.
Do you know how much is the cost of distractions? Well, from this article on LifeHack.com:
According to McKinsey, high-skilled workers spend a staggering 28% of their working hours reading and replying to e-mail messages. If we learned to manage our communication technology in a more efficient manner, we could give the economy a $900 million to $1.3 trillion boost per year.
When you find yourself sitting in the office feeling bored or overwhelmed, it’s easy to automatically check your social media. But it comes at a high price. Social media costs the U.S. economy $650 billion every year.
Therefore, to get your work done and make real progress, don’t allow distractions to creep in.
Here’s a good resource you should check out: 10 Ways to Eliminate Distractions at Work (and Get More Done)
4. Build a Productive Workplace
I always love to use this example: Do you prefer to read a book in a cozy and quiet café, or do you prefer to read it in a noisy and crowded wet market?
That’s how your environment can affect our level of productivity. If you want to get more done, make sure you set up an environment that allows you to do so.
If you have no idea how powerful your environment and surrounding can impact you, read my guide here, How Your Environment Affect You and Your Success in Life.
A physician at Massachusetts General Hospital named Anne Thorndike once conducted a study on how the environment plays a crucial role in changing people’s eating behavior in the hospital cafeteria.
In the study, Thorndike and her team simply placed more bottled waters in more convenient and visible places. And after 3 months, the sales of bottled water in the cafeteria increased by 25.8%.
By just doing that, Thorndike and her team managed to change the eating habits of people in the cafeteria. That’s how powerful it can be when you improve your environment and make it work for you.
So, improve and upgrade your environment. For instance, work in a place that encourages you to focus better.
You don’t want to be working in a place that is too dark or too bright. Or if it is uncomfortable or too noisy that you can’t focus at all.
Set up your environment and surrounding to support your goals so that you can win in life.
5. Use Time-Blocking
Time-blocking is one of the most powerful methods to make you productive and help you get things done.
Here’s how RescueTime.com define time blocking:
Time blocking is the practice of planning out every moment of your day in advance and dedicating specific time “blocks” for certain tasks and responsibilities.
While a standard to-do list tells you what you need to do, time blocking tells you when you’re going to do it.
In short, time blocking is a schedule.
For example, when I’m in real estate sales, I know that prospecting is the core activity and the most important task I need to do every day. Without prospecting, there will be no new clients and hence, no sales.
Hence, what I did is I time blocked my prospecting activity. Say, every morning from 10 AM to 12 PM, I time blocked these 2 hours for prospecting calls. I wouldn’t allow myself to do other things unless they are urgent.
That’s how time block works. You schedule your task and when the time comes, you work on it no matter what.
You purposefully block off your chunk of time to make things happen.
For instance, as a full-time blogger, I block Tuesday and Thursday morning to work on my blog post. These 2 blocks of time are where I focus on creating content and writing articles.
This way, I will make sure I get my content done. Other things will have to wait. If I need to make an appointment to see someone, I won’t make it on Tuesday and Thursday morning, I will schedule the appointment on other dates and time.
That’s how powerful the Time Blocking technique is.
6. Make Use of a Deadline
If you want to get your work done, you need to have a deadline. You see, if you have the whole day to write an article, guess what, you will spend the entire day working on the article.
But if you place a deadline like to get the article done in the morning, you will waste no time and plunge yourself into writing the article as early as possible. And you will get the article done before the afternoon.
That’s the power of a deadline. It gives us a sense of urgency and more importantly, it tells us how much time we have to get the work done.
MindTools.com shared an interesting article about why deadlines are important:
- To ensure that we complete our work. It’s easy to delay or to forget a task that has no agreed end point. Deadlines help to avoid this.
- To encourage a smooth flow of work. Deadlines help us to collaborate toward achieving a shared goal, and to keep complex, multistage projects on track.
- To set expectations. Deadlines make clear what we’re expected to deliver and when. This means that we can take control of our work, free of confusion.
I like the idea of having a deadline because when you have an idea as of when you need to complete a certain task or project, it allows you to properly plan your workflow.
Imagine building a 20-story building. If the construction workers like the architects, engineers, contractors, and workers are not given a specific deadline for their work, guess what will happen? The building will never get build.
This is why you need deadlines for your work, objectives, projects, and goals.
You need to know when to get things done so you can ensure a smooth workflow.
Here’s a good article about setting effective deadlines you should check out.
7. Reward Yourself and Have Something to Look Forward to
Do you have something to look forward to each day? If you don’t, you will never find the motivation to work or to get things done faster.
You see, you have to understand why you want to work or go to work every day. As a self-employed, I work from home. And there’s no one there to push me around or tell me what to do.
Everything is on my own. Hence, I need to have a crystal-clear reason as to why I want to work.
And to make sure I stick to my schedule and get my work done, I make sure I give myself a reward that I will be looking forward to enjoying.
As an example, I tell myself that if I can get all my work done by 4 PM, then I will give myself an hour of gaming time. And this reward makes me want to work faster and get my work done.
I bet it happened to you before too. Maybe there is a movie you want to watch so much that it makes you work faster.
When there is something you’re looking forward to enjoying, you will make sure you get your work done so that you can enjoy it fully.
This is why you should reward yourself. As what Tony Robbins and his team mentioned on his website:
It’s important to reward yourself, and your team, as soon as you complete a key task or objective. Why? By rewarding yourself in the moment, your brain elicits positive emotions, leading to the realization that your efforts result in a positive reward. By doing this continuously, your brain will start to link pleasure to accomplishing the task or objective and move towards it in the future.
Thus, reward yourself for your hard work and celebrate your progress.
8. Make Use of Short Breaks
Do you know that taking breaks is important for your overall well-being and breaks actually boost your productivity?
According to PsychologyToday.com, taking breaks such as vacations improve your productivity and help you get more done.
Many people get the wrong idea to think to get more done, they need to work longer hours. Wrong.
You can work 14 hours straight but only produce 4 hours of quality work. But when you take breaks in between, allowing yourself to rest, relax, and replenish, you can accomplish the same 4 hours of quality work in just 6 hours.
Don’t you think that’s better? It is about quality, not quantity, my friend.
If you are still not convinced that you need to take breaks to improve your performance, read my guide here, The Importance of Taking a Short Break According to Research.
A research found that when students were given a 20 to 30 minutes rest before they took a test, they performed better and scored higher.
A short break allows you to recharge and come back with a refreshed mind and better focus.
This is why the Pomodoro Technique works. You work for an intense focus for 25 minutes and then take a quick 5 minutes break.
Therefore, stop working like a mad man and keep pushing yourself. You need to stop and take a breather. Schedule short breaks so that you can recharge and come back stronger.
9. Follow the 5-Minute Rule
Sometimes it is not easy to motivate yourself and get your work done. But here’s a trick you can use: start small and make it easy to begin.
You see, most of the time, we’re dreaded to work because we think that work is something mundane, tedious, and something so big that we can’t finish in a day.
Imagine your task is to write a 5,000 words article. Sounds overwhelming, isn’t it? And you will never want to work on the article unless you have at least 3 hours of window time to work on it.
This is why we procrastinate and feel paralyzed. We look at our work as a big chunk of tasks rather than baby steps.
What you can do is use the 5-Minute Rule. I explained the rule in detail here.
The hack is simple. You want to lower the resistance and make your work easy to begin.
Instead of taking your task as writing a 5,000 words article, break it down into smaller steps…
- Identify the article title
- Write the draft and subheadings
- Write the introduction
- Write the first section
- Write the second section
- Write the third section
- Write the conclusion
- Read and edit the article
Rather than taking it as a big task, break it down into smaller tasks and focus on each one.
When you do so, you are making it easy to take action. It is easier to identify the article title than to write a 5,000 words article.
Can you see the difference now? Start small and commit to the minimum.
You want to make progress and build up the momentum. I suggest you check out my guide here to understand better: Stop Procrastination: How to Get Things Done Using The 5-Minute Rule.
10. Make Your Work Fun and Challenging
Finally, you want to make your work fun and challenging. One reason you’re not feeling motivated to get your work done is that you don’t find your work to be pleasurable.
“Anything you enjoy, you’re naturally going to do a better job with and give more of yourself to, so making your job something you look forward to, rather than simply a responsibility, is essential.” Said Laura Brounstein on BusinessInsider.com.
“The more connected and engaged you feel by what you do, the more fun you’ll have doing it,” she adds.
Imagine you’re playing tennis. If you are a professional player, you will never want to play with a total beginner. If you do, you will quickly find the game to be boring.
The reason is that the match isn’t engaging and challenging enough.
However, when you play against someone as good as you, you will be more engaged in the game. You win a few points and you lose a few points. Both parties have almost equal chances of winning. Hence, both are more willing to play their best to win.
This is the Goldilocks’ Rule.
Make your work challenging, but not overly difficult or overly easy. When the difficulty level is just nice, you will feel more engaged and challenged to accomplish your work.
Just like setting a goal. When you set a goal that is too easy to achieve, you will never feel the motivation to do it.
Does earning an additional $100 motivates you to jump out of your bed every morning? Not at all.
Similarly, when a goal is overly difficult and out of your capability, you will sabotage yourself and procrastinate on it.
If you are in debt, have no knowledge and skills about making money, but you set a goal to earn a million dollars in the next month, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
You want to adjust the difficulty level of your goals to be just nice, not too easy, and not overly difficult. That’s when you get the most engagement from your goals. That’s when you feel the challenge and want to take massive action because there’s a good possibility that you’re going to accomplish it.
Learn how to set empowering goals and achieve them and change your life, I suggest you take my course, Goal Setting Formula Masterclass.
So, if you want to get your work done faster and make real progress, make your work fun and challenging.