4 Tactics To Make The Most Of Every Working Hour
Most entrepreneurs have too many things to do—and a finite amount of time in which to do them. You might be able to get more done if you spend more hours working, but that’s a strategy with diminishing returns. Ultimately, it will hurt your relationships and, in some cases, lead to burnout.
Your time is a resource, and like any resource, it needs to be managed if you’re going to use it effectively. So what steps can you take to get more productivity out of each hour in your workday?
Core Productivity Principles
If you’re hoping to make your day more productive, there are a few core principles you’ll need to follow.
Minimize wasted time. First, you have to minimize the amount of time you simply squander. How much time are you spending on activities that aren’t yielding any value (e.g., checking social media repeatedly, going down internet rabbit holes)? How can you reduce or eliminate that time?
Concentrate. When you’re fully immersed in a task, achieving a flow state (or something close to it) will make you incredibly productive. But when you’re distracted, occupied or otherwise unable to focus, your productivity suffers.
Reprioritize. Effectiveness isn’t just about volume; it’s also about the quality of the work you’ve completed. Performing one very valuable task can be better than doing several non-valuable ones. Therefore, you can improve your productivity by focusing on the most valuable work, while sidelining or eliminating less-valuable tasks.
The productivity strategies outlined below all stem from one or more of these core principles.
1. Master Your Commute
Most of us who commute every day accept our daily trek to and from work as an unpreventable time sink. But if your commute averages close to 30 minutes each way, that quickly adds up to an hour a day and 5 hours per week in which you’re not accomplishing anything.
There are several ways to reclaim this time. The best option is to stop commuting altogether—something the Covid-19 pandemic has already accomplished for many of us. If you’re still among the ranks of the regular commuters, though, see whether you can work from home at least one or two days per week.
Not only will this save time for more valuable activities, it will also improve your safety—in more ways than one. It will minimize your chances of being exposed to the coronavirus, sure, but it will also keep you off the roads. That’s no small thing, considering that, according to Console and Associates, there were approximately 40,000 roadway deaths per year between 2016 and 2018, while the U.S. averages more than 6 million car accidents annually.
If working from home isn’t possible, there are a few ways you can make better use of the time you spend commuting. You might work during off-peak hours, so you can cut your time in traffic by avoiding rush hour. Or grab some hand sanitizer, mask up and take public transportation, which could allow you to work in a limited capacity as you’re traveling back and forth.
2. Automate Everything You Can
If you can automate a task, you can spare yourself the manual effort of doing it—in perpetuity. Even if you don’t have access to robust automation tools or programming skills, there are easy ways to automate your work life. For example, you can set up automatic filters for your inbox, so certain emails are instantly sent to appropriately labeled folders. You can also set automatic reminders so you never miss another meeting or appointment.
Of course, if you have any programming knowledge or you’re familiar with tools like IFTTT, the possibilities are almost limitless. These enable you to automate a whole host of simple, manual tasks.
3. Delegate Whenever Possible
Most of us struggle to achieve our daily goals because there are too many tasks bogging us down—and many of them are outside our best capabilities. Either they’re not within our skill set, or they’re too pedestrian to be fully engaging.
Your workday should be optimized with tasks appropriate for your skills and level of experience. Everything else can (and should) be delegated to someone better equipped to handle those tasks, especially when you’re overwhelmed with things to do.
4. Train Yourself To Focus Better
Each hour you spend working can yield more value if you learn how to focus better.
Start by eliminating distractions. Turn off notifications, shut your office door and unplug the internet using an app like Freedom if you have to. Even a single distraction can disrupt your focus for 30 minutes or more, so it’s important to weed these out before they start to harm your productivity.
Next, give multitasking the heave-ho. Multitasking compromises your ability to focus and even reduces your cognitive ability. To avoid these problems—and increase your chances of reaching that optimal flow state—concentrate on one task at a time.
Finally, cultivate the right environment. Experiment to find the best temperature, the right level and type of music (if any) and the most conducive surroundings for your personal work style. You’ll be able to work more effectively in an environment that’s been tailored to you.
Most people can easily increase their daily productivity with these habits and behavioral changes—they just haven’t put in the effort yet. Don’t be one of them. There’s no limit to what you can accomplish when you use your time to its fullest.
Author: Serenity Gibbons