Do you often wish there was more time in the day?
Do you want to be more productive so you can hang out with your family more, get more exercise, or just have more time to yourself?
These days we spend a lot of time using our computers for writing, researching, emailing, studying, designing, social media, etc. But are you using your computer time as efficiently as you can? Do you want to learn how you can accomplish more with less time?
“Impossible” you say? How can you do more with less?
Let me tell you.
I spend more time in front of a computer than I care to admit. I use a computer at work and at home for multiple hours, every day. For a long time I thought I was productive until I began getting more projects at work and my blog was taking more of my time at home. I learned that I needed to get more done in less time if I wanted to maintain my life away from a computer.
I found some helpful tricks and I’m confident they’ll help you, too.
Let me share with you a few hints that have helped me increase my productivity, efficiency, and do more with less time.
Use The Pomodoro Technique
I first read about this technique in an article by Chris Winfield called How to Get 40 Hours of Work Done in 16.7.
The technique is simple, yet extremely effective. It goes like this:
- Set a timer for 25 minutes.
- Work on ONE task at your computer for those 25 minutes.
- When the timer goes off, get up from your desk/chair/workspace for 5 minutes. Go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, or just walk around.
- Sit back down at your computer and repeat.
At first you might think that 25 minutes doesn’t seem long, but you’ll be amazed how long 25 minutes is when you focus on one task. But to make this technique work you MUST follow the next productivity hint…
Eliminate All Distractions
- No cell phone
- No email
- No daydreaming
- No web browsing
- No social media
- No disruptions from children, coworkers, or partners.
Distractions and disruptions are one of the biggest killers of productivity. Each time your concentration is broken you lose your focus.
How can you block out distractions?
- Turn off your phone, put it on silent, or leave it in the other room. Do whatever it takes to avoid the damn thing.
- Put in headphones and listen to background music. I find music without lyrics works best for me (ambient dance music or classical are my favourites). Check out Google Play Music for a ton of music options.
Find Your Most Productive Time of Day
When do you find you get your best work done?
Personally, I work best in the morning. My brain is fresh, alert, and ready to go. I never used to be a morning person, but I forced myself to change my habits and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I now wake up at 6:00am every morning and write for 1.5 hours (i.e. three Pomodoros) before leaving for work. If I didn’t, this blog wouldn’t exist.
I’m usually burnt out in the evenings after a long day. I get home from work, make dinner, clean up, and check my personal email. Afterwards, I don’t have the energy to write or do work that requires my full concentration.
Working in the morning is not only more efficient for me, it also gets my day off to a good start. Tackling a task or two first thing gives me the confidence to move forward with the rest of my day.
When is your optimal time of the day? If you’re not sure, experiment (if you have that luxury). When you find what works best for you, concentrate on being consistent and creating a habit of doing your most important work in that time-slot, every day.
Don’t Do ‘Busy’ Work During Your Peak Time
Checking and responding to emails, reading online articles, and making to-do lists are examples of busy work.
Busy work is an excuse to feel productive. How do you know you’re doing busy work? Because it’s easy.
It’s the mindless stuff you do to try to justify to yourself that you’re being productive when you should be doing the real work that needs to get done, like writing your next article, creating PowerPoint presentations, or developing new products. In other words, the hard work.
There’s a time for busy work, don’t get me wrong. But do the busy work when your brain is shutting down, not when it’s ramping up at its peak.
I do my busy work in the evenings: emails, to-do lists for the next day, and brainstorming ideas for my next blog post.
When you sit down at your computer and set your timer for 25 minutes, the goal is to jump right into what you need to do. This time isn’t for outlining ideas or researching on the web. Do all your preparation the day before. Then, when you sit down the next day to work, you can jump right into the main task and focus on the real work you need to accomplish.
Are you ready to be more productive?
If you want to do more with less time:
- Work in 25 minute, focused blocks of time.
- Eliminate ALL other distractions.
- Work during the time of day you are most alert and fresh.
- Do busy work the day before, not during your peak time.
Although I use these techniques to a limited extent at my day job, I’ve found they are most helpful at home for working on my blogging, writing, and studying.
I’m sharing these with you because a few people have told me that they want to be more productive, efficient, and do more with less time.
I think it’s a challenge a lot of us face. We fear we’re not doing enough with the time we have and that leads to feelings of guilt, imperfection, and frustration.
I know the techniques I’ve outlined in this article have been a huge help to my life and I hope you can find some use in them, too.
What’s your opinion? What sort of techniques do you use that make you more productive? Please share in the Comments below!