Top 5 Ways to Increase Productivity
Super-charge your day to get things done
All of us could be more productive with our time but, sometimes it’s hard to know how to go about maximizing our efforts. Usually a few simple changes in our workflow can lead to getting more things done, staying more focused, and having a more fulfilling day at the office.
In one of our favorite books, Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, author Brian Tracy provides some excellent ways to organize your day and suggests various principles to help boost productivity. Based on the old quote attributed to Mark Twain, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worst will happen to you the rest of the day.”
If we apply this to the idea of productivity, working on the biggest, most impactful thing first thing in the morning will not only be more productive, but we will reach our goals more quickly.
While there are some great lessons in this book, we’ve chosen our Top 5 principles to share with you below:
Define your goals and write them down
A lack of clarity can be one of the biggest causes of procrastination and delay. If you don’t know exactly what your goals are it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to identify and prioritize the tasks you need to work on to achieve them.
Take a moment to consider what you want to achieve, or work with others to define you define your work goals. Then, write your goals down so that you can refer back to them. In Tracy’s word: “A goal or objective that is not in writing is merely a wish or fantasy. Unwritten goals lead to confusion, vagueness, misdirection, and numerous mistakes.”
Once you’ve documented your goals, set a deadline, break them down into the tasks you’ll need to accomplish to get them done, and resolve to work on one goal task every single day.
When defining your goals, it helps to use SMART criteria. These are goals that at Specific Measureable Attainable Relevant Time-Based.
Think long-term to make better short-term decisions
One thing to ask yourself when looking at your goals is: “What are the potential consequences of doing or not doing this task?”
While completing everything on our to-do list is the goal, in reality not everything has the same impact. Which means that it’s ok delegate some activities or move them to the bottom of our list and focus on the important tasks.
Questioning the consequences of doing or not doing a task no only makes it easier to find your truly important activities, but it also makes it easier to find time-wasting tasks that are better deleted or delegated.
If you’re struggling with this exercise, you might want to consider the “do it, delegate it, defer it” decision-making process.
The ABCDE method
One of our favorite practices is to use the ABCDE method:
“A” tasks are things you must do. Focus on these first – they are the most critical and have the highest impact.
“B” tasks are things you should do. Replying to emails or attending meetings are often should-do tasks. People may be upset if you don’t, but these activities aren’t necessarily helping you achieve goals.
“C” tasks are nice-to-dos. They’re great if you have the bandwidth to get them done, but there are no consequences if you don’t.
“D” tasks are things you should delegate.
“E” tasks are things you should eliminate. If there is no value in delegating a task and it doesn’t meet any of the criteria above, it should be eliminated.
If this approach doesn’t work for you, consider looking into an Eisenhower Matrix. Agile prioritization is another way to categorize tasks using “critical,” “high,” medium,” and “low”.
Understand exactly what you’re accountable for
Work can be a difficult place for achieving goals because so many things compete for your attention.
To stay on-task, make sure you understand what you are truly responsible for and what things/activities/projects you need to ‘own’. Ask yourself: What were you hired to do? What results are you supposed to deliver? By understanding what you’re truly accountable for, you can justify delegating and eliminating tasks that aren’t related to your job-specific tasks and goals.
When it’s time to work, work
One key way to strike a perfect work-life balance is to work when you are supposed to.
It sounds like common sense but you may have found yourself in the middle of a task and then pause to answer a text, surf the Internet, or allow yourself to get distracted. Every minute you spend at work on productivity-killing activities means our projects take longer to complete, deadlines get closer, and stress levels rise.
By working diligently when you say you will, you’ll be able to achieve your goals faster and have the time to take breaks that are truly stress free when your not in ‘work mode’.
Defining your goals and working diligently to get them done can make you more productive and happier at work. Try to implement some of the tips we’ve suggested to see if they can help you achieve more and make your research site a top-tier institution.
But, like we’ve also seen, sometimes it does pay to delegate activities to others in order to focus on activities that we are truly responsbile for. At Trial Partners we are always here to help! So, if you’re struggling with getting things done and enrollment goals are hanging over your head, give us a call, or fill out the form below to see how we can help you cross some things off of your to-do list.
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