Everyone wants to get more done every day.
For some it’s a source of tremendous personal fulfilment, while for others it is a means to achieve long-term life goals.
Whether you are trying to be more productive in your work life or your personal life, there are numerous strategies to help you achieve those productivity goals whether you are putting in a day’s work for pay or putting in work on your personal life.
Let’s take a look at how we can be more efficient and increase productivity in every aspect of life with some simple changes in mindset and applying useful techniques.
Identify Your Greatest Time Management/Productivity Areas of Opportunity for Growth
If we are 100 percent honest with ourselves, we all know that we have room for improvement and growth when it comes to productivity and time management.
WE may be a super efficient productivity beast and model worker at the office or shop, but when we get home, the needs of our household can be totally slack.
Personal health and fitness? Nobody has the time.
Eating healthier food? It’s too expensive and takes too long
Organising and decluttering our living space? It’s just going to get messy again.
We’ve all been there, but you need to press pause in your life from time to time and evaluate what this denial of the struggles in our lives costs us regarding happiness and personal health.
Once we’ve admitted that we have a problem though, what comes next?
What are the Techniques used for Improving Productivity and Time Management?
To paraphrase a favourite author, failing to plan is planning to fail.
Part of that plan is actionable techniques you can start working on now to improve your productivity and time management skills.
Here’s a few simple ways to keep yourself on track:
- Limit distractions while at work or at home. If you have work to accomplish, block out all distractions you can from a visual, auditory, and intellectual mindset.
Don’t check your phone, don’t drift away from what you are working on, and eliminate anything that you know will keep you from being productive with your time
- Schedule and prioritise all work by what is most urgent first and then focus on your less pressing work.
Once you know what order you need to work in, it becomes much easier to schedule work by priority and tackle each job one at a time.
This applies to personal tasks as much as professional ones and adapts easily to either
- Contrary to popular belief, multitasking makes you less productive. Don’t do it. Tackle one task at a time and finish it completely before moving on to the next.
Your quality of work is significantly reduced when you try to do too many things at once, especially when you have to go back and redo something because you were too distracted the first time.
Know the Difference Between Productivity and Time Management
Productivity means that you are skilled at managing your energy and focus on the task at hand.
In other words, you can stick to a job until it is done without burning yourself out. You understand that life is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.
Time management means that you can coordinate your budgeted time in chronological order and synchronise your tasks with your ability to focus and your energy level to accomplish meaningful work.
You can’t have one without the other, but understanding that productivity and time management are two different skillsets can make a real difference in your ability to achieve mastery of both.
Practice Activity Management, Not Just Time Management
Activity management is the practice of keeping a record of everything you do throughout a typical work day in the order in which you completed each activity.
What impact does this have on your productivity? When you generate a written record of everything you do, it is easier to see where large quantities of your time are spent each day.
Everyone is always looking for more time, and activity management is essentially making a map to help you find it.
Applying this principle to your personal life is an excellent way to find time for personal fitness and preparing healthier food as well.
You may have to cut into your typical recreational activity time more than you’d like sometimes, but your health and wellness are well worth the time you spend on maintaining them.
Primary Productivity Tools & Apps for Making a Change
Here are the top recommended apps for mobile devices and PC/Mac that can help you get on track with your time and activity management:
- 30/30: Great little task manager that allows you to set multiple timers for tasks that run in sequence after they are configured. Makes single task focus and prioritisation a snap.
- RescueTime: An app that analyses your web usage and identifies where you are spending the majority of your time on your mobile device or computer. Essentially, it helps you become better at activity management so you can reallocate time more efficiently.
- Evernote: All your notes, web captures, photos, voice recorders, and whatever else you may need in one cloud based app that works on your desktop computer or your mobile device (iOS or Android). Simple interface and easy to manage files make this a real winner.
Best Productivity Apps
Now for some of the top rated apps for productivity and time management available for both mobile devices and your PC/Mac.
Check these out to see if they can make your productivity and time management require less effort.
- Any.do (Android/iOS): Are you a list person? This app lets you combine lists with reminders, calendars, notes, and cloud sync.
It also features a handy voice-entry feature as well that lets you add items to your lists without the need to type. A solid little life organiser by all accounts.
- Just Press Record: Need to transcribe conversations or record accurate notes for later quotation? This app is absolute marvel in terms of being able to record conversations and convert it to text with minimal effort.
Extremely useful to anyone who takes minutes or notes at meetings frequently.
- Outlook for Mobile: Microsoft’s popular email and calendar app in mobile form for both iOS and Android.
This slick mobile app is fast, easy to integrate, and allows you to stay up to date on your work calendars and email no matter where you are.
A must-have for anyone in a workplace that uses Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft products.
- Notion: Struggling to sort through the massive amounts of e-mail you receive every day?
Notion uses artificial intelligence and a unique algorithm to analyze your email and prioritize the most important emails so you see them first.
Definitely one of the best designed email apps ever created.
- Google Keep: For those who love to use sticky notes to stay organized, Google Keep actually lets you fill an infinite virtual space with them to help you organize your tasks more efficiently.
It also integrates directly into Google’s other web-based apps, making it easy to snap photos of sticky notes, create new virtual notes, and set reminders for any item you store in Keep.
- Slack: The ultimate workplace communication system with integration for popular third party productivity apps, Slack allows everyone on a team to be on a searchable chat channel without the need to jump through numerous hoops to get everyone on the same page.
Real-time sharing, tagging, and other social-media carryovers make this one of the best apps on the market today for collaboration over distance or just across the office.
Online Resources With a Strong Focus on Productivity Apps for Mac OSX
If you are a Mac user looking to get the most out of your Apple devices for productivity at home and work, you have a few stops you need to make along the way.
Check out this list of recommendations:
An archived blog that has loads of useful tips on apps and how to get the most out of your Mac in terms of business and productivity.
It is loaded with all kinds of tips on software and hardware that makes being a Mac user worth any minor inconveniences.Moreover, it is an excellent resource to check when you are troubleshooting your Mac on your own.
Still the paper of record for all things Mac, Macworld is still the sister to beat for Apple apps, Apple gear, and Apple Mac OS X software reviews.
They are the experts that can steer you in the right direction regardless of your questions or problems with your Mac computer.
The 80/20 Best Advice Ever About Improving Productivity in Life
Experts have been specialising in productivity improvement for decades.
Here are some best practices to live by when it come to being more productive in every aspect of your life:
- Improve your energy, sleep, eat and move!
- If possible, create workspaces that are separate from play spaces in your home
- Focus on one task at a time
- Remember you can only live one day at a time, just like everyone else. Don’t lose sight of that.
- Plan your day the night before by writing down 3 things you need to complete the following day.
- Start the next day with those three things and get them done first.
Using Focus to Increase Productivity
Single-tasking with zero distractions is always going to be the most effective method of getting meaningful work done every day.
Make sure you have created a distraction free environment in which to work at home or your workplace so that you can stay focused on one task at a time instead of trying to handle multiple tasks at the same time.
There is always going to be pressure to multi-task. Don’t give in. Stay focused on your highest priorities and completing them first, and the rest will fall into place as the day draws on. Don’t let the stress and intensity of others sway you from remaining on task.
That is a surefire way to get nothing done.
The Effects of Longer Hours on Productivity (And How To Know When You Are Working Too Much)
Working more isn’t always more productive. Instead, focus on achieving balance in your work time, leisure time, personal time, family time, and sleep.
Just because you spend more hours at your office or sitting at your desk does not mean that you are going to accomplish more.
Your productivity is entirely dependent on your ability to manage how much focus and energy you have at any given time to accomplish the most important tasks on your agenda first.
Trying to cram more into a day is worthless if you cannot maintain the focus and energy levels necessary to actually complete tasks.
In the same way, a car will not run with no gas in the tank; you cannot work extra hours without replenishing your energy and focus.
Most people can get away with it for a short time, but eventually, it will catch up with you, and it levies some pretty serious tolls where your mental and physical health are concerned.
You need your play time, your time to yourself, and your time with your family and friends to recharge your energy and allow you to focus on work when you return.
Keep in mind that there will always be more work to do; there will not always be more time with friends, family, or enjoying what you like to do in your free time.
Balance those two as you will, but you can’t get much done at work unless you are taking care of yourself at home first.
Overcoming the Challenges of Goal Setting, Productivity, and Motivation
Finally, the last and most important aspect of being more productive is overcoming those challenges to your goal setting, your ability to be productive, and maintaining your motivation.
First, goal setting is something that is an ongoing task. Once you achieve a goal, it is time to stretch yourself a little further. If you run a mile consistently for a week, next week run a mile and a half.
Don’t ever get too comfortable, because being productive means that growth is an ongoing process.
Second, to be productive, you have to focus on maintaining a healthy work/life balance.
You can’t just work all the time, nor can you just live as you please all the time.
The relationship is reciprocal; your life provides you with the energy and focuses to accomplish meaningful work.
If you neglect your personal life in favour of work, you are punching a hole in your gas tank.
By the same token, if you focus too much on working, you see that your fuel gauge is on E, the fuel warning light is on, and yet you are still insisting you can go just a bit further.
Lastly, motivation is entirely subjective nonsense.
There is not a mysterious force that possesses you and makes you a more productive, motivated person.
If you are waiting around to get motivated to do something, you are going to be waiting a long time.
True motivation is the result of continuously exercising self-discipline to do what needs doing, be it getting enough exercise or making sure that a project is satisfactory before submitting your work.
Motivation is the result of one little choice after another that you are going to do what you must instead of refusing to decide.
All in all, being more productive regardless of what area of your life you are seeking to improve boils down to this: make the hard choice now, and you will have fewer hard choices later.
All of these principles and advice and apps are worthless to you if you do not make the choice that you are going to act instead of waiting for something to happen.
Get moving, keep moving, and productivity will follow.
Check out my free 5-day productivity course here or sign-up for it below