3 ways to be more productive

We live in a busy time.  Because of advances in technology and transportation, today it is possible to see and do more things in the course of a day than our ancestors could have ever dreamed of a century or two ago.  While modern innovations have made many things easier to do, they have not necessarily lessened the amount of stress we experience in our lives because obligations and challenges seem to come at us more quickly than ever.

So although our livelihoods tend to be less physically demanding and dangerous, we still often find ourselves mentally and emotionally drained or burned out.  Therefore, learning to cope with the pressures of our modern world can make us healthier and happier people, and a big step in that direction starts with enhancing our personal and vocational productivity.  Luckily, there are several ways to produce productivity in our lives.  (No, being redundant is not one of them!)


1. Develop Good Work Habits

Finding the right balance between your professional and private life is not only important to your personal well being but also to becoming more productive.  The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus is attributed with saying, “Be moderate in order to taste the joys of life in abundance.”  Don’t work too little; don’t work too much.  Set goals for yourself, and give yourself time limits for accomplishing those goals.

Prepare for success ahead of time, and reward yourself for accomplishing tasks.  Remember that overworking yourself is likely to make you less productive in the long run, so strive to maintain a healthy balance of rest, nutrition, and exercise.

Work outdoors occasionally if you need a change in environment or feel a need to reconnect with nature.  Perhaps most importantly, find joy in your job and home life, and don’t lose sight of why you work in the first place.

2. Get Organized; Stay Organized

To be productive, it is important to organize both your time and work environment.  You can manage your time better by making a list of tasks that you would like to accomplish each day and scheduling blocks of time for completing each task.  Prioritize by handling the essential tasks first, and break large, seemingly insurmountable tasks into a series of smaller, more digestible tasks that will help you work towards your goal.

As Plutarch said, “Many things which cannot be overcome when they are together yield themselves up when taken little by little.”  Organize your schedule in a manner that will maximize efficiency.

It is also helpful to productively make use of travel time or downtime at work, whether that means seeking new knowledge that can help you plan future endeavors or simply giving yourself a little break to recharge your batteries.

In addition to organizing your time effectively, it is equally important to organize your workspace.  Strategically arrange items in your work environment to facilitate the efficient completion of tasks.  Find a place for everything (including the trash) to avoid clutter that can slow you down by making it more difficult to find things.  Add anything (within reason and your company’s guidelines) that you feel may be useful in increasing your motivation or happiness at work but will not be a distraction or obstacle to your productivity.  Organizing your time and space both at work and at home can help you reduce stress while increasing your productivity.

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3. Learn How to Effectively Deal with Others

Perhaps one of the most difficult barriers to enhancing productivity is dealing with other people because interactions with others are not typically entirely within your control.  However, there are a number of steps that can be taken to decrease wasted time when interacting with others.

Setting up office or visiting hours should cut down on random interruptions from visitors because they will understand that you have appointed times for visitations and will be more likely to respect your time.  It would be beneficial to take the same approach with electronic communications.  Set aside appointed times to check e-mails, visit social media sites, respond to text messages, etc.  On the flip side, check your own behavior and make sure that you aren’t a source of disruptions or wasted time for other people.

If you are in a position of authority over others, learning how to delegate tasks can be a tremendous asset in saving yourself time and increasing productivity in general.  It is important to be sure that the people to whom you delegate responsibilities are equipped to handle the responsibilities that they have been given and that you have given them enough support and authority to carry out their assigned tasks.  This may require more time, effort, and money being placed in staff development, but the rewards can more than make up for it over time.

Conversely, if you are an employee or team member working for and with others, seek help from others when needed.  This may help you avoid costly or time-consuming mistakes.  Also, learn how to help those around you achieve their goals. Doing so will not only help the team as a whole but will also make it more likely that they will reciprocate in kind should you need their assistance in the future.

This is just a small sampling of the many steps that you can take to foster productivity in your life.  There is no shortage of resources available to help you in this regard.  However, following these suggestions will better equip you to navigate our fast-paced and stress-filled world.

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