Ah, productivity. It's both the watch-word and the nemesis of every business person. Finding ways to make the most of every day can be a productivity drain in and of itself, so to save you the time, we've pulled together some of the top tips from the PeoplePerHour office.
Productivity Dos and Don'ts
Plan Your Time - Time management is one of those killer issues in business. You want to make the most of your day, but you don't want to be so tied into a schedule that you've got no wriggle room in the event of an emergency. Work from a jobs list and organise your day so that you have a little flexibility, but not so much that you can fit in a bout of thumb-twiddling.
Routine - For many people, the draw of being their own boss is the ability to leave behind the nine-to-five grind, but there is a good reason why most successful businesses expect their employees to stick to a regular routine: it works. Yes, you want some flexibility, but if you have a routine that you regularly stick to you'll get an awful lot more done. And to keep track of your time (and get the buzz from seeing completed tasks falling away), try using a daily planner on your smart phone - there are plenty of apps to choose from, and they can be an enormous help.
Use Your Highs - Everyone is different, and there are both morning and afternoon people in this world, not to mention the night owls, this means that we all have our own high points. For many people the start of the day is when their energy and enthusiasm are at their highest levels, and this is the time to get the hardest tasks of the day out of the way. You know how you work best, so whenever your personal high point happens to be, make sure that you make the most of it.
Love Your Job - This is far easier for the self-employed. In fact, if you are self-employed and you don't love what you're doing, you need to give yourself a damn good talking to, and reconsider your career options. Every job comes with its lows, but if you can do something that you enjoy and feel passionate about, then work ceases to be work and you find yourself being paid for doing something you'd do without the money.
Get Started - Everyone knows that formidable feeling of having a seemingly insurmountable jobs list. It's tempting, when confronted with such, to sit, stare, and bewail your woes. The sensible thing is to just get on with it. No matter how much work you have to do, the list is only going to get shorter once you start.
Time Out - It's widely believed that the maximum amount of time that the human brain can efficiently focus on a single task without a break is 40-90 minutes, after that concentration wavers, productivity drops and standards slip. A 15 minute break every 90 minutes will produce far better results than just working straight through.
Delegate - We often think that we're supermen/women and that the easiest way to ensure that a job is done is to do it ourselves. It's not. Delegation, or even outsourcing, will free up your time to focus on the important issues that require your core skills and are worthy of your time. In the long run, this will save time and make your company run more efficiently.
Don't Push Your Boundaries - It doesn't matter how much work you have, if you're tired you need to stop. Working late to meet deadlines may occasionally be necessary, but if it becomes a long term practise, it will become a rolling problem: each day you'll be more tired and less productive than the day before. It's a bad cycle to embark upon.
Don't Multi-task - Multi-tasking seems to be a 'skill' with bragging rights, but generally speaking it means that you're getting lots of jobs done a lot more slowly and to a lower standard. Focusing on one job at a time is both more sensible and productive.
Don't Be A Slave To Your Phone - This might be a revolutionary concept, but if the phone rings, you don't have to answer it. The same applies to email. Of course, there are some people who you will need to speak to every time, but if your mum is calling for a chat, a number is withheld, or a client you know is unnecessarily needy is on the line, don't drop what you're doing; call them back later, when you have free time.
Don't Be Complacent - You may be good at what you do, but you can always make yourself better. Improving your typing skills, learning how to use new computer programmes, picking up speed reading, can all enhance your productivity.