If you feel that the time and energy you put into your job are not yielding the results you expect, it may be time to focus on increasing your personal productivity.

How to Increase Your Personal Productivity

Quick takeaways if you’re in a hurry

  • Personal productivity is about when you do things as much as about how you do them: plan to do your most challenging tasks when your energy levels are high
  • Improving your organisation skills can help you to make your time more efficient, reducing the time spent looking for things by giving everything a place
  • Focus is essential to allow you to apply your attention to achieving your desired outcome, and prioritise your time where it will have most impact.

Read on: How to Increase Your Personal Productivity

(estimated reading time: 5 minutes)

If you’re struggling to achieve everything that you want to, then chances are that you need a boost of productivity. Where traditionally productivity may be associated with business structures and processes designed to provide increased efficiency and growth in output, there’s now an increasing focus on whether that change can be made on a personal level.

Have you experienced the feeling of working all hours of the day yet failing to get any sense of achievement? Are you finding that you are losing motivation and not getting as much as you want out of your day? Read on for our 4 step guide on how to increase personal productivity.

1. You need energy to make things happen

If you lack energy then you lack motivation, and without motivation it’s nearly impossible to make things happen. This is about making the most of your energy levels when they’re high, and doing something about it when they get low.

Do you have a specific time of day when your brain flies and you can create a solution at the drop of a hat? If so then make a note of it and use it to schedule in your more challenging tasks. If you fire on all cylinders between 6 and 8am every morning then that’s the time to attack your biggest challenges.

Our energy levels are finite so it’s important to consider ways to boost your energy as well as how to use it. If you have specific personal or work-based activities that give you a real boost of energy – creative or physical – then take the time to schedule them across your week in order to maintain your levels.

Working continuously for hours at a time is possible but not productive. Your brain needs a break to function at its best – so take a look at your schedule and build in breaks after each task to give yourself an opportunity to recharge. You could get really smart with your schedule and plan in different types of task across your day – using variety to keep your energy levels high. Often it’s the repetition of the same type of activity that can drain our enthusiasm: so why not mix things up for an added boost.

2. Get organised

So much of our time is lost being unproductive – and this escalates when we are disorganised and struggle to focus on the task in hand. If you want to take a quick step towards productivity then take a look at your organisational skills and apply them to your personal as well as business life.

Take the example of leaving the house in the morning. If you’ve misplaced your car keys you can waste time and lose energy in the process of looking for them: and then there’s the added frustration of finding them where you thought they were in the first place. Giving everything its proper place has long been recognised as an effective way to reduce wasted time.

It’s true for your work as well as personal life. Create a system so that you know where all your notes/reference material/information is kept for each project. There are numerous apps available or you could even go old school and print everything out and file it. Whatever your preferred technique, you will find that if you can eliminate the time spent looking for things you will spend more time doing things instead.

3. Focus

The art of focusing is key to personal productivity, and those of us who practise procrastination know all too well how elusive it can be. The first step to developing tunnel vision on the task in hand is to avoid distractions. We live in a digital age where 10 minutes rarely pass without a notification of some kind. Learn to shut social media and email, and ignore all but the most important notifications. Focusing on the task in hand will fast-track your productivity.

Once you’ve learned to avoid distraction, you can apply focus to what you work on as well as how you work. If you want to knuckle down and get things done, then try becoming single task focused and breaking your to do list down into bite-sized chunks. If you struggle to focus for an hour, why not go for four blocks of 15 minutes instead? Again there are numerous apps that can support you in this process of time management, and you could find it offers the solution to getting more done.

Procrastination is the enemy of focus, but it can be avoided if you remove the distractions; define the task you want to achieve; and just start. Don’t be afraid to begin a task and remember to reward yourself for completing it. Even an action as simple as ticking an action off on a to do list can give you a sense of satisfaction and boost your momentum.

4. Prioritise your time

When your to-do list starts taking on a life of its own, it can become challenging to feel productive and achieve your best. But it doesn’t hurt to remember that just because an action needs to be done, doesn’t mean it should be done. Confused? With the best will in the world you can’t do everything, so it’s important to review your personal and business goals and decide where your time will make a difference, and where it won’t.

Review your business goals and prioritise the projects that need your immediate attention. Be realistic about the number of projects you can meaningfully handle at one time, and then be clear that you will not take on more until you have completed those that you are already committed to. Once you complete a project you can review your priorities and revisit your list to see which one you will start working on next.

Personal goals require focus to ensure that the time that you invest into your working life leads to a feeling of productivity in your personal life. If you haven’t already done so, consider writing a mission statement for your life that will guide you through any decisions you need to make about your present and future. If you feel that moving in a particular direction will not contribute to your personal goals then consider saying no. Avoid action that will be unproductive against your personal measures. Review and update your mission statement monthly and enjoy the journey it takes you on.

Personal productivity is not achieved overnight, but there are steps that you can take to improve your efficiency, and it’s important to remember that every step is a move in the right direction. By being better organised you can work to remove inefficient downtime that is not applied to delivering a task or completing a project. Practising focus can chase away the spectre of procrastination and build your sense of achievement as you tick off the tasks you’ve completed. Prioritising your time ensures that the energy you are expending is directed towards achieving personal or business goals and delivering maximum benefits. In combination you will be moving in the right direction to achieve a more productive personal and working life.

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