So much of our day is spent being busy, we have glorified busy-ness. Often allowing ourselves to be enraptured in the busy-ness of being busy. We have either forgotten that we have complete control over how we spend our time or we choose busy-ness over productivity, albeit unconsciously.
We all get the same 24 hours in a day. It’s how we choose to use these that sets us apart. Being productive is a conscious decision and a choice we make continuously throughout the day.
To increase your productivity there a few key areas you need to focus on. Firstly, you need to establish your priorities and set your goals, secondly you need to understand how to manage your time accordingly, thirdly in order to do this you need to be aware of what you are spending your time on, and finally you need to find a way to communicate and collaborate with others effectively especially when there are shared tasks or goals between you.
Let’s start with the first one, establishing your priorities and setting your goals. Most of us think we have our priorities straight, however we will also admit to being side-tracked from these often. To me this signals that we may know what our priorities are but we are not very committed to them. When we are committed to our priorities we find it easier to say no to those things that will distract us from them, because we understand that in saying yes to something is actually saying no to something else. If you have not set your priorities or if you have not committed to them you will find yourself saying yes to everyone else’s priorities, leaving little time for you to focus on the things that are important to you. Learning to say NO! is a skill we all need to master, click on the link to learn more about how to say this dreaded N-word.
Learning what to say yes to and what to say no to in accordance with your priorities is the secret to good time management. Time Management is not just about managing your hours and your minutes, its about getting the most out of the time you have available. There are so many apps out there that can help you to manage your time better. My personal favourite and the one that I have found to be of huge benefit in helping me manage my daily’s and basically run my life is Workflow. It has a great dashboard that workflow’s most of your tasks, and keeps track of almost everything, including your daily caffeine intake, mine is always way to high.
So often we lose track of our time either spending too much time searching for the right image on Google only to return to the first one we liked or wondering off in the direction of a silly Facebook post analysing which colour best represents our personality. If you find that you procrastinate or that you detour into the web whenever you really don’t have the time to waste you’d be impressed with the Rescue Time app. This app actually records where and how you spend your time online. It often helps us to get this snap shot into our online activity so that we can make the changes we need. If visibility isn’t enough to make you kick the habit, you can use the app to temporarily block the websites you go to for your procrastination relief.
We also know that when we are managing our time and striving to bring our lives into balance, a key part of this is learning to take some time out. Now if you’re into meditation, mindfulness or just breathing, there are many apps out there that you can use to just plug into whilst at your desk and take the recharge that you need. Again, don’t think of having to set huge junks of time aside to get things done. Instead you need to take a few minutes to focus on your priorities over the course of the day.
From a collaboration perspective, and especially for those of us running teams and families it is critical for us to try to keep track of everyone’s competing schedules. Wunderlist is a collaborative app that allows you to share and keep track of to do lists and coordinate these with friends, family, colleagues.
There is also Timely, which is invaluable in helping you to plan your week and estimate how much time you allocate to tasks and track actual time taken. This helps you to either improve your future estimations or analyse where the waste is and eliminate this. It is collaborative, meaning you can use this app to help your team increase their productivity and analyse how much time is spent on getting things done.
One interesting thing when it comes to productivity is that you need a certain amount of background noise to get things done. However, in our noisy ‘built for collaboration’ office environments we find ourselves in the noise is often too high. When the office chatter gets too much to handle I suggest using an app such as Noisli which provides just the right level of white noise to up your productivity levels in no time.
Oh, and as a final note if you’re wanting to boost your productivity don’t forget that you need to manage what you are eating and drinking too. Most of us that are desk bound, which is usually for many more hours than we actually think, are eating far too much for our actual burn rate. Using an app like MyFitness pal helps you to keep track of how much you should be eating, what you are eating, your water intake and how much exercise you are getting. It links seamlessly to any fitness tracker you may have but also allows you to capture your own data should you not have invested in one of these yet.
We all face the challenge of busy-ness, its time to stop being busy and choose to be productive instead, so log on and download one of the apps above and get busy being productive.