Make 2018 a Productive Year

Make 2018 a Productive Year
0

11 Expert Tips To Make 2018 Your Most Productive Year Ever

Could eating cake for breakfast and never listening to your voicemail help you get more things done?

Did you have a productive 2017? Don’t answer that. No matter how much you got done last year, or how efficiently you did it, you can probably give your work habits a tune-up for the year ahead.

Maybe it’s a change to your morning routine or a different approach to your to-do list. Or maybe it’s reducing your reliance on to-do lists altogether. Since everyone’s productivity problems differ, so should their solutions. So Fast Company asked 18 of the most productive people we could find–starting with our top contributors–to share their own tips, hacks, and habits.

1. EAT CAKE FOR BREAKFAST
“It doesn’t literally have to be cake,” says Beyond the Headline podcast host Jenna Abdou, but “the point is to find a way to eat something that brings you joy in the morning.” Abdou believes this can double as a mindfulness exercise–and triple as a practice for cultivating gratitude–that in turn boosts your productivity.

Whatever your chosen breakfast, she says, “Savor it without using your phone or thinking about work and responsibilities. Enjoy the moment, and think about all of the things that are going right in your life.” You can use this time to do some journaling or set some intentions for the day, Abdou suggests, so you can dive into your work feeling focused and energized.

2. BUILD YOUR DAY AROUND YOUR TOUGHEST TASKS
Career strategist Adunola Adeshola kicks off her day by identifying her top one or two most pressing tasks. “Once I’ve scratched the most important thing off my to-do list, I immediately feel like I’ve conquered the day,” she says. “Sure, some days there are five to seven important things,” she admits, but starting by tackling something critical “helps me eliminate busy work and distractions so that I can end the day feeling accomplished.”

Lars Schmidt uses the app Wunderlist to do something similar, by creating a to-do list “for every client, project, and even personal (i.e., meditation) thing I need to get done.” Then Schmidt, the founder of recruiting agency Amplify, stars his highest-priority items and begins each day by working on something inside his starred folder. Since Wunderlist is “mobile and web-based,” Schmidt adds, “it’s always on any device, even Apple Watch. Huge fan.”

3. OVERLOAD YOUR TO-DO LIST
“I create a huge task list that seems impossible to finish and give myself a deadline to complete it,” says Airlink Marketing founder Arianna O’Dell. “Having an ‘impossible’ challenge to undertake spurs me into action and often lets me complete double what I would on a normal workday.” Even if you don’t work as well as O’Dell does under pressure, drawing up a comprehensive–or even overly ambitious–to-do list can help prime your brain for productivity.

4. REREAD A BOOK
“When I am feeling stuck or overwhelmed, I often turn to a book I’ve read before, reminding myself of what it taught me and internalizing its lessons further,” says Jason Shen, founder of the talent assessment platform Headlight. Shen finds this habit helps him hone his long-term memory and practice the art of thinking deeply. “Instead of getting a quick hit on Twitter, try to extract more wisdom out of something you know is high-quality,” he suggests.

5. SCHEDULE APPOINTMENTS WITH YOURSELF
Quiet Revolution founder Susan Cain schedules “deep work” sessions each day–usually at least three hours long–so she can focus on solo work that demands concentration, and commits to “honoring them the way I would any other commitment,” she says. Kristi Dosh, publicist and founder of Guide My Brand, also uses time blocking to do distraction-free work on a regular basis. She likes Todoist for “scheduling specific time blocks for each task, no matter how small.” Not only has that stopped Dosh from overbooking, “I also found myself being more productive when I knew exactly what I was going to work on each hour of my day,” she explains.

Want to take time blocking to another level? “Set a timer and make the alarm annoyingly loud,” suggests BAM Communications founder Beck Bamberger. “I’ll tell myself, ‘Okay, you get 45 minutes to create this piece of content.’ The self-declared deadline makes it a motivating and fun sprint and focuses you pointedly on the task,” whereas an annoying alarm “creates a negative feedback loop,” she explains. When you can finish your task in time to shut off the timer, the alarm sounds, “Your brain will start to adapt to an ‘alarm = bad, focus = win’ association.”

6. STOP TRYING TO “PUSH THROUGH IT”
When your brain needs a break, take one. “If you’re feeling stuck on a particular problem or are feeling like you aren’t getting anything done, don’t fight or resist that feeling; honor it,” says Humu founder and Work Rules!author Laszlo Bock. “Recognize that your body or mind is trying to tell you it’s overwhelmed, and go take a walk.”

Psychologist Art Markman agrees, explaining that “downtime makes you more productive by giving you more emotional resilience to the inevitable ups and downs at work, while also helping you to get some perspective on the problems you are trying to solve. So unless it’s an emergency, when you leave the office, leave it. Everything will be there when you get back.”

7. FOLLOW THE “FIVE-MINUTE RULE”
Beth Comstock, vice chair of General Electric, follows the “five-minute rule” to stay productive: “If it’ll take you five minutes or less, just do it now,” she says. “Send that email, look over that spreadsheet, or walk over to your colleague’s desk and have a quick conversation. A small action now can keep you moving toward a big deadline.”

Not only does this prevent your to-do list from getting clogged up with lots of quick tasks, it can also help keep your energy up over the course of a workday, says Reva Seth, author and founder of the Optimal Living Lab. After identifying “five emails or actions that I could take that would have the most strategic impact, I just do those and forget the rest of my to-do list,” she explains. “Usually by the second email or action, I have a greater amount of momentum, as a result of stacking small wins–a proven way to help increase motivation and productivity.”

8. PICK UP THE PHONE (BUT DON’T ANSWER VOICEMAILS)
“This was the year I discovered how powerful the phone call is,” TrackMaven CEO Allen Gannett, who wrote for Fast Company about his weeklong experiment of jumping on a phone call every time he’d otherwise fire off an email. “Not only is it more human, but it saves time. A quick call can resolve most issues in two minutes.”

Also a phone junkie, journalist and Smartcuts author Shane Snow uses Call Recorder Pro to record his interview calls (which is legal in his home state of New York, “but I ask for permission anyway,” he says), “and then I have this little routine where I send the audio recording to Rev.com for transcription.” Snow also recommends Temi, which transcribes audio conversations “and lets me find the relevant spots in my conversations and replay the audio by clicking on the text.” Obviously, this is especially useful for reporters, but it could prove handy for anyone whose job involves important phone calls.

IDEO strategist and designer Lisa Baird has one additional time-saving phone hack: “I set my outgoing voicemail message to: ‘Hi, you’ve reached the voicemail for Lisa Baird, but I don’t check my voicemail, so please send me a text message instead, or an email. Thanks a bunch! Bye.’ Saves me hours per year.”

9. TRAIN YOUR MIND TO STAY STILL
Career and executive coach Suzan Bond credits “strengthening my mental fortitude” for boosting her productivity lately. How? “A regular yoga practice where I held poses for up to five minutes.” She’s found it easier to stop taking breaks for “mindless” tasks in between harder ones. “Never discount mental grit,” Bond adds.

10. DELEGATE THAT THING YOU’RE ALWAYS MULTITASKING
“People have trouble handing things off and shouldn’t,” says Stephane Kasriel, CEO of the freelancing platform Upwork. “Stop taking on more than you can and trying to multitask or stretch yourself thin. Neither are effective.” Among the freelance talent available on Upwork are virtual assistants–not the robotic kind, but human administrative assistants who work remotely. These days, Kasriel claims, many such experts’ part-time rates aren’t prohibitive for those outside the C-suite. “Virtual assistants get to know you and become increasingly more effective at taking work off of your plate.”

11. WRITE A “LOVE-TO-DO” LIST
Daraiha Greene, head of multicultural engagement at Google’s Computer Science in Media team, takes acting and dance classes. “Add the things you love to do to your plate!” she urges. “I know that sounds counterintuitive, but it serves as an outlet to keep you happy and your creative juices flowing.”

Coach and Fast Company contributor Daniel Dowling shared a simple method earlier this year for finding the time for those extracurriculars: Write a “love-to-do list.” It takes discipline, he points out, but deliberately scheduling time to do things you enjoy can make you more productive in the long run–just as Greene has found to be true.

“Once rejuvenated,” she says, “I’m able take on the workload the next day and create space in my mind for new information.”

Source

Related Blogs

  • Jul 6, 2018
    Hiring the right people?

    5 Steps to Hiring the Right People for Your Business "Hire slow, fire fast" is great advice, but it's not always easy to follow. The..

    0 Read More
  • Jun 29, 2018
    Ready for Entrepreneurial Success?

    4 Entry-Level Jobs That Will Prep You for Entrepreneurial Success Success is a journey, not a destination, so think hard about where to start. Entrepreneurship..

    0 Read More
  • Jun 22, 2018
    Simple Work-Life Balance

    Work-Life Balance Is Simple. To Succeed at Work, Get a Life. With the right balance of health and business, entrepreneurs can maximize productivity. The Organization..

    0 Read More
  • Apr 5, 2018
    Inclusion in the Workplace

    Inclusion Doesn’t Mean Including Everything and Everyone Inclusiveness is not about thought policing. It’s also not about turning everyone into a liberal. It’s a normal..

    0 Read More
  • Feb 23, 2018
    Leadership Role but Unprepared…

    You Were Promoted To A Leadership Role But You Feel Unprepared - Don't Panic You’ve been at the job for years. As much as you..

    0 Read More
  • Feb 16, 2018
    Fail at Switching Jobs?

    This Is the No. 1 Reason Why People Fail at Switching Jobs (and What to Do About It) There's a reason changing careers is so..

    1 Read More
  • Feb 9, 2018
    The future Workspace

    Why a Coffee Shop Will Probably Be Your Workspace Within 10 Years As the gig economy grows, there are both social and scientific reasons why..

    0 Read More
  • Feb 2, 2018
    A Technique To Get…

    Didn't Get Your Dream Job? This 1 Technique Could Get You a Second Chance Every job seeker experiences this at least once, if not several..

    0 Read More
  • Dec 22, 2017
    Career Goals for 2018

    How to Set Your Career Goals for 2018 and Achieve Them Each New Year offers the opportunity for a fresh start—and that includes your career...

    0 Read More
  • Nov 24, 2017
    HR Function in 2024

    Will You Be Leading an HR Function in 2024? Here are five things to look at to examine and determine if you’ve got what it..

    0 Read More
  • Nov 10, 2017
    Your Impact at Work!

    What Is Your Impact? We keep throwing this word around called "impact." Do you know what your impact is and how would you define, discover,..

    0 Read More
  • Oct 27, 2017
    Inspiring Career Advice

    LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner's 3 Best Pieces of Career Advice Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn's CEO, has had nothing short of a successful career. After graduating from..

    0 Read More
  • Oct 13, 2017
    Working for small companies

    Why You Should Consider Working For A Small Company Eighty-four percent of small-business employees are happy in their current job, according to the 2017 Aflac..

    0 Read More
  • Sep 15, 2017
    Lost your Job?

    Nine Things You Should and Shouldn't Do If You Lose Your Job Most of us wouldn’t think to associate the words "joblessness" and "fun," but..

    0 Read More
  • Sep 8, 2017
    Why Risk Is A…

    Why Risk Is A Necessary Component To A Successful Career - And How To Balance Risk With Reward Taking at least some risk is necessary..

    0 Read More
  • Aug 25, 2017
    Top 10 Benefits Of…

    Top 10 Benefits Of A Workplace Wellness Program When Google opened up in the 90s it took a unique approach to employee satisfaction. In an..

    0 Read More
  • Aug 16, 2017
    Write your first CV

    It's all about potential: how to write a CV with no work experience Follow these tips to stand out among competing candidates – from research..

    0 Read More
  • Aug 10, 2017
    Friends and Career

    Being Too Busy for Friends Won’t Help Your Career Friendship matters. Everything we do to succeed in our careers is improved when we’re supported by..

    0 Read More
  • Jun 30, 2017
    Career Development

    Think Strategically About Your Career Development In a world where the average employee sends and receives 122 emails per day and attends an average of..

    0 Read More
  • Jun 2, 2017
    Advance Your Career

    How To Advance Your Career In A Crappy Entry-Level Job Yes, you can still bring yourself one step closer to snagging that dream job even..

    0 Read More
  • May 8, 2017
    Interview Preparation

    Interviews are generally regarded as the primary decision-making event in any recruitment process. Regardless of your academic credentials or career thus far, it is crucial..

    0 Read More
  • Apr 3, 2017
    Interview questions you have…

    Studies have shown that structured interviewing is more than twice as reliable a predictor of future employee performance than unstructured interviewing. That is why most..

    0 Read More
  • Mar 19, 2012
    Job Search Tips That…

    Cyprus unemployment has been steadily increasing monthly since 2008 and is getting closer to double digits (January 2012 Eurostat figure – 9.6%). However there are..

    0 Read More