The difference between a productive work system and an unproductive one is enormous. Someone with high productivity can easily get more done in one or two hours than many people can in a full day of work. When you work a standard desk job, productivity often isn’t tracked. When you work for yourself, however, the only thing that matters is results. In this environment, productivity makes a big difference.
Productivity can be defined as getting as much done in as little time as possible. Being productive also means doing everything that needs to be done with as little stress as possible.
So how do you increase your productivity?
Create Uninterrupted Periods of Work
It’s impossible to be truly productive when you’re constantly being interrupted. If you’re always checking Facebook, emails, taking phone calls and so on, you’re simply not going to be able to get much done.
Work in batches of uninterrupted time. You might work in 50-minute segments, 25-minute segments or whatever amount of segments you find work for you. Block out time during which you don’t take calls and aren’t interrupted at all.
Manage Your Inbox
Your inbox is one of the keys to your productivity. Yet most people pay next to no attention to their inbox management. Your inbox can be digital (your email) as well as physical. Any place where you receive communications or tasks that you’re responsible for can be considered an inbox.
Most people’s inbox management looks something like this. First, they see something land in their inbox. They then either do something with it or not. If not, they try to remember to do something about it later. Their inbox pretty soon piles up until they have dozens, hundreds or even thousands of emails sitting there.
This is no way to run an inbox or a business. Instead, successful people work from a “zero inbox” system. The inbox is a set of tasks that needs to be completed. Every time a task is complete, it’s moved out of the inbox. The email or message is either deleted, filed away or responded to. Nothing stays in the inbox. At the end of each day, the inbox goes back down to zero.
This eliminates dropped balls. It also completely eliminates the stress you experience regarding always feeling like there’s something you’re supposed to be doing.
Schedule Your Time
You’ll find that there are certain times of days when you’re more productive than others. Some people find they do their best work before 7am, while others are late-night owls who only get started at 11 pm. Figure out which schedule works best for you.
If you get in the habit of working in blocks of productive time, get your inbox down to zero daily and schedule the bulk of your work during your peak productivity times, you’ll get a lot more done in a lot less time. You’ll feel less stressed to boot.
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One of the best things about working in the digital age is the multitude of tools available to help you ease your workload. Using digital tools, you can automate menial tasks, offload manual ones, manage teams easily, and simplify your work life in a multitude of ways.
Here are a few great ways to use technology to ease your workload.
Managing Your Blog, Twitter and Facebook
Use automation tools to make managing your blogging and social media easy.
If you regularly cross post between these three platforms, do so with an automation tool. Copying and pasting between platforms takes a long time. There are all kinds of services that can automate this for you.
Also, use scheduled posting services to help you batch your social media efforts and keep your blog and social media pages regularly updated.
Online Project Management
Online project management tools can help relieve a lot of the stress that comes with managing a team. Even if you’re managing an in-person team, it may be a good idea to use online project management tools.
With these tools, you can track who’s responsible for what, track tasks that still need to be done, brainstorm ideas, store files and more.
Use Productivity Tools
Productivity tools like Time Doctor or Getting Things Done filing systems make it easy to optimize your workflow.
For example, you can use tools that automatically track what you’re doing every minute of the day to figure out how you can be more effective. You can use software that blocks you from accessing non-productive sites like Facebook during work hours.
You can also use these tools with your team members.
Outsource Tasks Online in Minutes
Need a digital menial task done for you? You can easily outsource most tasks for as little as $3 an hour. Simply use an online outsourcing company, or head over to Elance or Upwork to find overseas personal assistants. I’ve personally mostly used Upwork (formerly known as oDesk) and have had great results. One that I used that I didn’t like was freelancer.com. I do not like the way they handle the payments.
Share Files and Notes Quickly
Use tools like Sync Secure Cloud File Storage, Dropbox, and Evernote to share files among everyone on your team. You no longer have to work really hard to try to get everyone on the same page in terms of files and documents.
These are just some of the many ways technology can help ease your workflow. Always be on the lookout for new ways to save time or energy by using better technology.