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Do you need to improve efficiency? Guard your productivity…

Numerous studies have recently demonstrated that despite the fact people are working greater hours at both home and work, productivity is declining. Even though running themselves ragged, people are not achieving more.

Want to improve efficiency? This is one of the major reasons you must make the decision to guard your productivity now.

Some experts say one potential cause is the increased utilization of technology shortening attention spans. Others say it it’s due to a self-perpetuating cycle where overwork begets burnout. Consequently, productivity declines. This in turn, makes us work even more to try and get the things done that we need to do. And so on…

However, the answer is probably that productivity is decreasing due to both these reasons. And of course, it doesn’t help that everyone feels these same pressures and it very nearly becomes quasi-contagious. Thus, this is surely the wrong way to improve efficiency.

Yet, we don’t have to continue to play this game. We don’t have to participate.

If you want to improve efficiency, you  can choose to make this year different and achieve more with the simple strategies below.

Guard Your Productivity Tip 1: Minimize Time Wasters

Look at what you do daily. Is there something you do every day that doesn’t contribute to your productivity in some area? Something that is costing you valuable time? Maybe you spend too much time just browsing around Facebook multiple times a day? Or maybe you “shop” online every night for your future dream house? While relaxing every now and then is important – and a certain amount of visualization is a positive thing – if these things are done every day at the expense of accomplishing our goals, it’s not an efficient use of time.

Thus, to improve productivity, make a conscious effort to eliminate – or at least minimize – these non-productive time wasters. Especially, think about what you could be doing instead that would bring you closer to what you want to achieve.

Guard Your Productivity Tip 2: Eliminate Distractions and Just Do It!

What distracts you from starting – and getting done – your tasks at hand? Social media again? Personal problems? Your messy closet? Usually, these distractions only become distracting because they help us procrastinate. Instead, try making deals with yourself where you do the work FIRST. Then, as a “reward”, you get to do the other stuff.

When you tackle immediately the things you are trying to put off, it gets them out of the way. It clears the way and you wind up getting more done. This strategy will help you stay on task to get the work done, so you can get on to the other things that are occupying your mind.

Guard Your Productivity Tip 3: Prepare for the Next Day, Today

Start your day out right by preparing right, the night before. Prep your breakfast. Iron and/or lay out your clothes. Take a bath. Relax and unwind. Avoid super late caffeine and alcohol and staring at electronic devices. Drink a last glass of water to guard hydration. If you can, move your bedtime back at least a half hour and then get up a half hour earlier. Numerous studies have proven early risers get more done because there are fewer distractions in the morning hours.

Guard Your Productivity Tip 4: Manage Meetings

One of the biggest time wasters in the work day can be meetings. Furthermore, many have limited effect on achievement and/or productivity. Not to mention, there are often too many and they are too frequent. While you may not be able to control all meetings, carefully look at those you have scheduled. Make sure they have a purpose and are necessary. For those that are essential, prepare an agenda to keep them focused. Sometimes people consciously or unconsciously derail meetings or drag them out. Perhaps, even try standing meetings. Typically, that keeps people in meetings much more attentive and the meetings on track.

Guard Your Productivity Tip 5: Be Proactive – Not Reactive with Your Schedule

How many times does it feel like your day is spent putting out fires? That is often because we don’t spend enough time being proactive. At the beginning of each week, decide what you want to get accomplished. What will it take to get those things done? What obstacles can you anticipate? What should you do to address those obstacles? Can you prevent them by taking certain actions in advance? It’s much easier to deal with problems on the front – with a plan – than on the back end when they may come up at the worst times or when you are focused on something else.

Similarly, being at the whim of things like voicemail and email can be a big time drain too. Imagine if you were working and someone was constantly knocking on your door and asking you questions or to solve problems. You’d have to stop what you were doing each time and deal with them and their issue. Then, when done, you’d have to remember where you were in what you were doing before you were interrupted. Voicemail and email can be the same way. Thus, to combat this, set specific times of the day where you check voicemail and email and respond. Then, don’t let yourself get sucked in any other times of the day.

Guard You Identity—and Your Information

Interestingly, one huge potential productivity-killer can be dealing with identity theft or data loss. Many people don’t often consider this but while you are planning for improved productivity this year, it’s important to also take actions to prevent one of the biggest productivity drains out there today.

Start by changing all passwords. If this seems like an overwhelming thought (especially since password rules can be vastly different by account AND you shouldn’t ever use the same password everywhere anyway), consider an extension / app like Roboform. It stores all your passwords under a single master password. Of course, there are many different options like this out there. All it takes is a quick search to find one that seems like it will work for you.

Additionally, make sure you are backing up your website(s), computers, and email. With the popularity and accessibility of the Cloud, there are numerous choices. Check out Mozy for personal and work computers (it backs up all your programs and email too) and there are too many options for websites to name here. However, suffice it to say there are many at every price range with tons of different features.

None of these steps are huge in terms of effort or time. Yet, they may make a huge difference in your overall productivity for the year. Likewise, they will help you improve efficiency. You might as well get ready because the future is here—ready or not. Make this year your most productive ever!



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