There are numerous ways to increase productivity, here are our favourites, tested and approved by the Shanti Team!
1 – Create a plan of attack for your day, and stick to it.
Organizing your day can be incredibly helpful for productivity. If you know what you intend to work on at each point in the day, you can eliminate distractions. The trick is finding the balance between not enough detail and too much detail. Ideally, you want to know what time you switch from one task to the next, and potentially save yourself some time between tasks for a quick break as well as 10-15 minutes for unexpected things (returning phone calls, urgent emails, etc.).
2 – Prepare your to-do list a day ahead, and keep it short
To-do lists are wonderful for productivity, to help keep you focused, help you to create a plan of attack for your day, and let’s not forget that feeling of satisfaction when you cross an item off your to-do list.
Preparing your list the day before helps in two ways. 1) it helps you get right to work in the morning; 2) it helps you sleep at night! How many of you make lists in your head before bed?
Keeping it short helps you to focus on one thing at a time and help to ensure that you have a to-do list which can be accomplished in one day. Ask yourself what are the most important tasks and what can you realistically accomplish in one day. When preparing your to-dos, consider the why for each task. This may not decrease or alter your list, but it will help you to be better prepared the next day when you begin the task.
3 – Quit multitasking
Multitasking is a productivity killer. Focus helps to increase productivity, spreading your attention on 2 or more tasks at the same time decreases your focus on each task. When you multitask, your brain kind of goes into overdrive. It has to split it’s attention and frantically go from one thing to the next. One study on multitasking showed that people who multitask are less able to filter useless information and perform worse at switching tasks when compared to non-multitaskers.
How do you stop? One easy step is to limit your tabs and windows! Only have open what you need for the task you are working on right now. If you are checking emails, only have your email tab open and all windows closed. If you are working on preparing social media posts, only have the programs essential to those posts open. Break down your tasks into sub-tasks. For example, if I want to prepare some Facebook posts for the next month using Buffer, I would figure out which sub-tasks are involved. Let’s say, prepare a calendar of posts, find stock images or take pictures, prepare the text for each post, then upload images and test into Buffer. Now I can focus on one small task at a time. However, I would complete each sub-task one after another so the entire task of uploading Facebook posts is completed in one shot.
4 – Track and limit how much time you are spending on tasks.
When you plan your day, you will need to determine how much time each task should take. Pay attention to the time you have allocated for each task, and ensure you stick to it. This ensures you have time for your other tasks. Plus, the majority of people tend to work well under a bit of pressure. Knowing you have 1 hour (or whatever time allocated) can help motivate you to keep on track. If you're like me and you often have fleeting thoughts, you may want to keep a notepad beside you to quickly jot down ideas or other tasks that pop into your head.
5 – Do the big stuff when you’re at your best
Are you a morning person, or a night owl? Or perhaps you do your best work midday. Use this high-performing time to work on your most important task of the day. It’s also a great time for your creativity. Save your emails and other routine tasks for a time when you are least energized and productive.
Another suggestion: Try taking a bit of time in the morning for yourself, start your day right. Whether it’s sitting down to enjoy a meal, exercise, meditation, or something else.
In my case, I’m a morning person, I’m most productive at the start of the day. I save my exercise for midday to help give me a boost for the afternoon. I start with a good breakfast, a hot cup of my current favourite tea (lately I've been loving Spirit in the morning, it gives me an extra boost that lasts for hours), and a book or the newspaper and enjoy a relaxing start. Then I head right into my big task of the day. I save 10 minutes to quickly check emails and reply to any urgent emails, then I head to the gym for a lunch hour workout, then back to work to work on my second project. I finish the day with emails, calendar updates, and finally, preparing tomorrows to-do list. I like keeping my to-do’s to two items per day (not including the routine stuff), because I know I can get through it all, and I feel really satisfied knowing I accomplished everything I set out to do.
6 – Take regular breaks
Breaks actually help productivity! Have you heard of the Pomodoro technique? The concept is very simple. Every 20-90 minutes (Pomodoro suggests 25 minutes, but we say to choose your own interval), take a 1-2 minute break. Essentially, the idea is to commit to 25 minutes of uninterrupted time to the task at hand. Pomodoro also suggest that every 4th break should be longer, around 25 minutes. I recently started using Time Out, a free app you can download to your computer which forces you to take breaks at intervals you set.
A short break on a regular basis helps you to refocus when you return to work. Use these short breaks to move. Go for a quick walk, make a cup of tea (Buddha Focus perhaps?), go to the restroom, use the printer, check in with a colleague, employer or subordinate, whatever gets you out of your seat.
7- Delegate effectively
Everyone needs help sometimes. Delegating is a skill, and an important one. You may want to delegate tasks to coworkers or subordinates that may be better skilled at that specific task, or perhaps simply because you have a deadline and you need help to meet it. Establish trust between you and your coworkers/subordinates, and agree to help each other when asked. Make sure to have resources and background information ready before asking for help, and once you pass the task on, don’t micromanage! Trust that the person you asked is the right person for the job and will be able to accomplish the task.
8 – Prioritize your health
This is a big one. If you are neglecting your health, you will find that your productivity suffers (among other things!)
Sleep: Not everyone needs 8 hours of sleep per night, but do your best to get a deep and restful sleep. Falling asleep earlier and waking up earlier can really help productivity, allowing you some time to establish a morning routine and a little AM self-care. Try our Sweet Dreams tea to help fall asleep and have a more restful sleep.
Diet: You are what you eat! Ensure your diet contains all the nutrients you need, and cut back on processed foods, refined sugars and refined starches. The cleaner your diet, the more energy and focus you will have.
Water: You’ve probably heard that you need 8 glasses of water per day, but this isn’t true for everyone. Depending on your health, habits, fitness level, gender or weight, you may have to change the amount of water you drink. As a starting point, men should be drinking around 13-15 cups per day, and women 9-10 cups. If you live in a hot climate, are athletic, are a smoker, are sick – you should increase your water intake. Ensure to drink clean, filtered water. Remember that caffeine and alcohol are dehydrating, so if you consume either of these, increase water intake. There are numerous side effects from lack of water consumption. Make sure you always get enough! Also, chamomile and elderflower tea is known to help rehydrate, so enjoy a cup of either of these to contribute towards your daily water intake. You can also try infusing fruits with your water, or cucumbers (which are high in electrolytes).
Exercise: Exercise is important for all of us. Adults should be aiming to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day. You will find that you have a lot more energy and focus when you exercise regularly.
Quit smoking: This is definitely easier said than done, however, your health, sleeping patterns and fitness levels will all improve.