Whether we do an eight-hour job or freelance, we want to feel satisfied at the end of the day. We want to know that your day-to-day efforts make a difference for the company and contribute to our professional growth. To make sure of that, we need to make the most of our work time.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy — but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you lived at all.” - Leo Roste
Freelancers know a thing or two about productivity and growth. Their income is made of their performance multiplied by hard and soft skills combined. Although we are no machines to show 110% productivity daily, there are still ways to improve our average performance.
Read on to learn nine ways to boost your productivity, as suggested by the most remarkable people of all time.
Growth doesn’t happen overnight — it’s made up of many steps and a massive effort. To make sure you go in the right direction, you need to set a clear goal that is in line with your job assets.
For example, you are a full-time web designer. You took the coding courses and got this job to master your skills. But you dream of freelancing and being in control of your income. Your current job requires that you master your skills, learn to code faster, and do more coding in less time — just like you want it. Now that you have the motivation, productivity should not be a problem.
Ask yourself: what is it that you want to achieve? How will it improve your life?
“The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.” - Benjamin E. Mays
Setting goals is easy, but few people reach any. Think of New Year’s resolutions — how many of them have you already achieved?
The thing is that most of the goals feel overwhelming. When your boss sets a new goal for your department to increase sales by 10% by the end of the month, you feel disoriented. So, you need to break down this goal into achievable steps:
- Spend an hour daily to research your competitors
- Spend 15 mins every day to brainstorm
- Spend 30 mins every day to look for more valuable sources of promotion
- Make five new business connections every day
Now every task seems doable and you feel enough energy and motivation to get started.
“You don’t actually do a project; you can only do action steps related to it. When enough of the right action steps have been taken, some situation will have been created that matches your initial picture of the outcome closely enough that you can call it “done.” ― David Allen, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
When it comes to prioritizing, most of us make the same mistake — we tend to do the easy tasks first and put off the hard job while it is the hard job that gives the opportunities to grow. This is why we are always busy but don’t enhance our skills and increase our earnings.
Make it a rule to eat a frog every day. Start your day by doing the most unattractive and challenging task. This will take one hard task off your list, boost your energy, and focus for the rest of the day.
“Do the hard jobs first. Easy jobs will take care of themselves.” — Dale Carnegie
It’s often the case that the “frog” tasks seem overwhelming and you can’t break them down because you have no idea where to start. Many of us feel anxious when they think that they might lack the necessary details, knowledge or experience to accomplish the task. There’s nothing wrong with it — it’s just a new opportunity to advance your knowledge and grow as a professional. Think of it as a new quest that will gain you experience and bring you closer to your level up.
It’s okay to inquire your manager about the details or the necessary steps to complete the task. When you have the roadmap, you feel confident about your progress. If you think that you need more expertise on the subject, look for books and online courses to fill your knowledge gaps.
Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know something because it is exactly the knowledge you need the most. When you deal with the knowledge gap, it won’t cause you any more stress and will give you more confidence next time to complete the task.
“Knowledge applied is productivity.” — Peter Drucker
Procrastination is the number one enemy of your productivity, achievements, and success. In 1978, 5% of the population admitted to being chronic procrastinators compared to roughly 26% of the population today. So, how do we deal with procrastination in the workplace?
First of all, you need to recognize procrastination, so practice self-awareness. The concept is simple: from time to time, you place your focus on the present moment and observe your thoughts, sensations in the body and softly shift your focus where you need it right now. After you make it a habit, you’ll learn to bring back your attention effortlessly.
Secondly, minimize distractions. According to Udemy research, 70% of employees feel distracted at work — it’s time to do something about it.
- Block out social media to deal with the urge to check up Facebook
- Turn off notifications on all your devices
- Allocate time to answer emails and team chats
- Deal with noise — move to a more quiet place or wear headphones
“Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the “someday I’ll” philosophy.” — Denis Waitley
Whether you are a morning person or not, it always takes time to tune in to work. But you may use your time wisely and take advantage of your commute.
- Use your time in a subway or a bus to plan your day and create a to-do list.
- In case you are stuck with a creative assignment, use this time to brainstorm.
- When possible, have a walk before you arrive at the office. It’s known to improve brain flow and creative thinking.
Another great way to tune into work is to declutter the space around you because it affects your brain’s ability to concentrate and process information. Whether you work from home or the office, most of us tend to pile papers, cables, teacups on our tables, which negatively affects our attention and ability to concentrate. Identify the items that you use daily and remove the rest.
“Sometimes the biggest gain in productive energy will come from cleaning the cobwebs, dealing with old business, and clearing the desks — cutting loose debris that’s impeding forward motion.”- David Allen
A decade ago, companies considered multitasking a valuable skill for their employees. But modern studies show that multitasking not only decreases our productivity by as much as 40% but also physically harms our brain. It turns out that instead of getting more done, we switch tasks and interrupt ourselves. So, to improve your workplace productivity, forget about multitasking and block out distractions.
“What looks like multitasking is really switching back and forth between multiple tasks, which reduces productivity and increases mistakes by up to 50%.”- Susan Cain
Healthy lifestyle improves not only our bodies but also our minds. Researches prove that exercises make our brain alert, attentive, and able to focus better. It means that morning exercises give you energy and attention boos t while evening walks and exercises lower the stress level and improve the quality of sleep.
Healthy nutrition is another habit that is beneficial for your workplace productivity. A 2012 research revealed that employees with unhealthy diets were 66% more likely to report a productivity loss than healthy eaters. Nutritionists advise you to avoid foods with high quantities of sugar or processed carbohydrates. Instead, eat more fruit, vegetables, meats, legumes, nuts, whole grains — foods rich in protein, fats, and complex carbohydrates.
“Typically, people who exercise start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. It’s not completely clear why. But for many people, exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.” ― Charles Duhigg
Celebrating a milestone gives us a fantastic feeling, powers up our enthusiasm, confidence, and strengthens commitment.
According to the survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), most companies express approval and recognition of their employees. Still, more than a third of respondents received no recognition in the previous year. If this is the case, you may celebrate your achievements using the following approaches:
- Write an achievement diary. Before you go to bed, list all your accomplishments throughout the day. Aim to list 20 items or more and try this for the next 30 days.
- Share your achievements. Ask your project manager to create a team chat or hold short meetings to share your progress and celebrate milestones.
- Treat yourself. Let’s say you’ve had a hard week and finished a tough project. Buy yourself a thing from your wishlist, have a night out with your friends — anything you truly enjoy.
“Next time something good happens, stop whatever you are doing, give it a second and appreciate that moment…The happiness researchers call it savoring.” — Eric Barker in Time magazine
Paul J. Meyer summarized this whole article in a single saying: “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”
To make the most of your everyday efforts, achieve your career goals and increase your earnings, you need to set clear goals, break them into digestible parts and prioritize, do the hard job first thing during the workday, develop a healthy lifestyle and celebrate your achievements.