How to double your productivity in a day

By Julia Keady

Truly productive businesspeople have more breaks, less stress, greater joy and better lives - and they get twice as much done as most other people.

When you say "productivity", most people think about working harder and longer. Nothing could be further from the truth. Truly productive people have more breaks, less stress, greater joy and better lives - and they get twice as much done as most other people.

The secret to productivity is in the way you approach your work. The majority of people are in constant crisis management, rushing to meet the latest deadlines and juggling a dozen different balls at any one time. This means that very little gets done properly and on average half the time is wasted switching between tasks. Here's how to turn all that around in a single day.

1. Stop

Refuse to spend another moment being half productive and give yourself one day to get organised.

2. Look

Take a couple of hours to really look at the way you work. Write down on a piece of paper a typical day, including all your tasks. How often do you check your email? When do you accept phone calls and meetings? How often do you take breaks? How much time do you spend talking to colleagues?

3. Plan

Productivity starts with compartmentalising tasks - creating strict boundaries around when and where things can happen. Here are a few ideas:

  • Only check and answer emails between 10 and 10.30 am, and 4 and 4.30pm. If something requires a longer response then move it to your task list.
  • Post a schedule of available meeting times. Let your colleagues know how long you have and stick to it wherever possible.
  • Plan your breaks. Every person needs a 20-minute ultradian break every two hours or so. Without them your ability to work productively plummets.
  • Finish the day by planning the next one. Take the last half hour of the day to create tomorrow's schedule. You will start the next day on the right foot, go home relaxed and sleep the sleep of the righteous.

4. Lists

If every task you have isn't on a list then it's on your mind and interfering with the task at hand. A list where you allocate tasks according to importance frees your mind to be creative and focused.

5. Space

Examine your workspace for efficiency. If it takes two minutes to get to the coffee machine or water cooler, buy a flask or jug. If the photocopier is too far away, see if it can be moved. Do you have enough trays for your desk to be organised? Is there a proper process or 'flow' through which your work moves?

Thirty minutes a day to get really organised can save you several hours in wasted time and effort.


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