Is your productivity lagging? Get focused.

 

Do you feel that you don’t have enough time in the day to get to all the things you set out to do? You’re definitely not alone. Despite all the technology available at our fingertips to streamline our lives and make us more efficient, it seems that there are even more things to attend to. Maybe the problem isn’t having enough time but not using the time you have more efficiently. Take email, for example. Thanks to mobile technologies, we can be anywhere and check email to keep up with business and personal correspondence and answer questions. But email, for all of its virtues, can become a real-time sink. Ask Julie Morgenstern a few years ago wrote a top-rated book, “Never Check Email In the Morning: And Other Unexpected Strategies for Making Your Life Work.”

 

Why is checking email in the morning so counter-productive? Here are a few of the reasons:

 

  • Checking email is distracting.  An email can throw you off from what you need to do.
  • It’s an excuse to lack direction: You’re checking email because you don’t know what else you are supposed to be doing.
  • There’s no set time limit. You can be on email for hours at a time.

 

Email is hardly the only culprit that gets in the way of being more productive. Allowing for too many phone interruptions is another, or getting sidetracked in meetings are others. At some point, to get to priorities and not stress about falling behind, you need to take charge of your time and make changes to the way you get through the day.

Marius Ursache offers a wealth of time-saving tips in “Here are 22 of the best day-to-day, time-saving tips to use now.” Among them, here are five that I find most helpful:

 

#2 Sleep, food, and exercise can help you triple your outcome because they increase focus, motivation, and energy levels.

#4 The 5-minute rule: the biggest cure against procrastination is to set your goal not to finish a scary big hairy task, but to work five minutes on it. You’ll find out that most times, it continues well beyond the five minutes as you enter a flow state.

#7 Your memory sucks. Get everything out of your head, even if you’re a genius. Write it down in a notebook, put it in your todo-list app, on your phone, talk to Siri. Whatever works best for you!

#9 Routine beats tools. You need discipline, which means for me two things: I plan my day first thing in the morning, and I write a short daily log every day. This helps me stay sane, prioritize well, scrap useless tasks, and do what matters. This saves me hours.

#15 MI3. Most important three tasks (or the alternative one must – three should – five could). Start with the most important first thing in the morning.
 

You can read all of them here. The key is to find out what works best for you. As Ursache says, “We try to squeeze as many hours in one workday, to be “productive,” but in the end, everything depends less on time, and more on your focus, motivation and overall well-being (all of them linked directly with energy levels).”