How To Boost Productivity And Reduce Stress

“Focus on being productive instead of busy.” ― Tim Ferriss

At the end of every day, stop and take a look back at the role your time management played in how much you did or didn’t get done. Chances are, you won’t have to think too hard to find where things went right and where they didn’t.

According to the Small Business Pulse Survey, respondents only spent 34% of their time on activities that were both important and urgent - and all (correctly) felt this was falling short.

One big mistake many people make is equating productivity with stress - the truth of the matter is that the less stressed you are, the more productive you’ll be.

Here are a few pointers to help keep your workday on track at the same time as reducing your stress levels:

Start right
We make smarter decisions, produce better work, and generally function far more efficiently if we’re taking care of our physical and emotional needs first and foremost. Adequate sleep, a healthy, balanced diet, and overall fitness levels are minimum requirements for achieving the most productive day. 

Prioritize
Are the tasks you spent so much time on high value? Do they warrant the attention you’ve lavished on them while potentially more important jobs languish in your in-tray? Prioritizing work is one of the most important factors in time management from both practical and psychological viewpoints: Practical because completing less crucial tasks first is inefficient; psychological because those bigger, more critical tasks you’re leaving until later will weigh on your mind, likely causing anxiety that impacts negatively on all your decisions.   

Focus
Minimize distractions. Schedule tasks to best suit your working day and set aside times of least distraction for the work that will require the most focused attention. Once you’ve committed to working on a particular job in hand, don’t stop until it’s completed. Create do-not-disturb time slots and block social media sites during critical work time. 

Take breaks
Research has shown that regular screen breaks and downtime for mindful rest actually boost productivity. Simply taking a ten-minute walk increases blood flow and oxygen levels, making your mind sharper and reducing the likelihood of errors. Staying hydrated (think water rather than coffee!) and making healthy food choices equally fuels your mind. 

Expect the unexpected
Allow for contingencies: Your day is unlikely to always go as planned, so give yourself some wriggle room to deal with any new tasks that take priority over scheduled work to avoid being put into a tailspin of panic.

End right
Allocate a period towards the end of your working day to tie up any loose ends that might otherwise slow down the next day’s work. Make every effort to avoid unnecessary overlaps - if you can finish something today, then don’t wait until tomorrow.   

“It’s not always that we need to do more but rather that we need to focus on less.” ― Nathan W. Morris