Productivity tips seem to be everywhere these days. Do this to work smarter, do that to be more effective. It never stops. There are, however, a few timeless tips that ring truth on many levels for both teams and individuals. These productivity tips can bring value to you and your team. They can not only make you more productive, but also improve your whole outlook on work.
Here are some of those productivity tips, directly from some of the world' most renowned productivity experts.
Tim Ferriss: focus on what matters
The 4-Hour Workweek best-selling author teaches us to focus on what really matters by dedicating a daily block of 2-3 hours to truly dedicate ourselves to those tasks that are truly important. Ferriss admits that he himself is sometimes haunted by procrastination, as many of us are, especially when it comes to important tasks. But even when procrastination bites, focusing on only one important task can still lead you and your team members to great results. That's why it's important to encourage time blocks without interruptions as much as possible.
"This is the only way I can create big outcomes despite my never-ending impulse to procrastinate, nap, and otherwise fritter away my days with bullshit. If I have 10 important things to do in a day, it’s 100% certain nothing important will get done that day. On the other hand, I can usually handle 1 must-do item and block out my lesser behaviors for 2-3 hours a day.
It doesn’t take much to seem superhuman and appear “successful” to nearly everyone around you. In fact, you just need one rule: What you do is more important than how you do everything else, and doing something well does not make it important.” ~ Tim Ferriss
David Allen: change how you engage with the world
There’s a lot to learn from GTD guru David Allen, but this tweet can especially resonate with team members. It reminds us that how we engage with the world in fact influences the way we perceive the world. It's a really powerful concept that we all tend to forget from time to time, especially when work gets particularly stressful and the stakes are high:
The world itself is not overwhelming. How we are engaged with it may well be.
— David Allen (@gtdguy) June 27, 2013
The Time Management Ninja emphasized the importance of a positive attitude while approaching work. It's hard to come to terms with this, but we can choose how we feel. Even forcing a smile can actually make us feel happy. In the same way, approaching work with a positive attitude will enable you and your team to get more done. Just make sure that your team members have what they need to access this positive attitude.
"When you are faced with adversity, you can let your mood change for the worse or you can choose to look on the positive side of the situation.
The more positive your attitude, the more you can get done." ~ Craig Jarrow
Julie Morgenstern: follow your own right way
Many people forget this about their own and their team's productivity techniques. Getting stuck on doing the “right” thing often results in not doing the right thing for you. Both you and your team need the flexibility to adapt productivity techniques to your own lifestyles, personalities and way of working.
There is no "right" way to manage your time. Organizing systems work long term if they are based around who you are.
— Julie Morgenstern (@JulieMorgenstrn) January 30, 2014
This one might not be so obviously related to productivity at first. But your company's values define what your team is working for and what it's working towards. Wrongly defined company values
“...values now are too often platitudes and tag lines that have little meaning to the company’s management or employees. Even worse, arbitrary values chosen by executives often conflict with the real goals of the company and are used in an attempt to motivate confused employees.” ~ Andrea Feinberg
Sometimes, not doing can be the answer to doing more. It seems to be a paradox, but when we take the time to relax and recharge our batteries we are in fact able to accomplish a lot more. And, as Houston points out, it can be beneficial to simply take a break from our tight to-do lists.
Not doing is so important. Not just in terms of sleep and rest, but to have time that isn’t pre-planned or layered with expectations. If you’re feeling like your task lists are running your life, try creating some small pockets of time — even just 15 minutes here, half an hour somewhere else — for simply not doing. If not doing seems too scary, then set aside that pocket of time for play or relaxation. Do whatever feels appealing right then, in the moment.
In her Reliability Manifesto, Tara Rodden Robinson emphasizes something that most of us don't do enough: taking the time to think about what's being asked from us before answering 'yes' to someone's request. In fact, many of us spread ourselves thin too often. Frankly, it's hard to say 'no' to the requests of a colleague that you genuinely want to help. But being truly reliable implies not spreading yourself too thin, so that you may be able to honour those requests. Take the time to truly understand what is being asked of you, and be upright about your abilities and potential time constraints.
“Being able to speak a clear ‘yes’ requires knowing what is being asked of me. Therefore, I cultivate the space between requests and my response to them so I can examine what the request truly is." ~ Tara Rodden Robinson
Feel free to adopt and adapt any or all of the above tips within your team. Then let us know how they've affected your productivity!
Are there any other tips you'd like to see on this list? Share them with other readers in the comments below.