June 20 is World Productivity Day. It may seem natural to celebrate with doing more than usual.
In the hopes of becoming a more productive person, you try out different tips and hacks that require so much effort they leave you frustrated, confused, and with no time for actual work.
And what about free time? Productive people – people who get stuff done – they all have no life, right? Well, maybe they do it wrong.
If you feel like you’re doing everything you can, hardly ever having time to breathe, and it’s still not enough, check out these six quick tips on how to do less to achieve more.
If you fill your daily to-do list with a million tasks, you’re bound to have to reschedule. You’ll have to move everything around, and then feel overwhelmed by the tasks piling up. You also probably won’t get the satisfaction of ever seeing a completed to-do list.
A task that unexpectedly takes you fifteen minutes longer to complete results in having fifteen minutes less for another task (that is, of course, if you don’t spend additional five minutes panicking and staring at your task list in frustration.) Rescheduling alone takes up so much time.
And on a Friday you’re left with a to-do list that would take 37 hours to complete.
Try to minimize the number of tasks you have to complete each day, strategically planning bigger and smaller ones at intervals that work for you. Always leave out some space to be more flexible. Crossing off everything from your list, even if it’s only two tasks, will surely make you feel more productive than starting twenty of them, and not finishing any.
And when you’ve got some more time left, it might inspire you to finish something you’ve scheduled for tomorrow. No more frustration that leads to procrastination.
Use fewer apps
Using five calendar apps, three different reminder apps, four list-makers, two for post-it notes on your device, and a hundred time-management apps in general, is counterproductive. It brings clutter to your desktop/smartphone/tablet, and chaos into your workflow.
Check how many productivity and time-management apps you have. Find out which apps are absolutely necessary for you. If any two of them are basically the same app but with a slightly different interface – delete one. Keep as few as possible, preferably the most multifunctional of them all.
Save yourself from wasting time on checking out so many apps when you can swap them for one, or two, that have all the useful features in one. And from putting the same reminders, to-do tasks, and events in every app.
In fact, if you split the reminders between apps, it can do a lot of damage, as you may forget one, and only follow the rest. Reduce the stress, reduce the clutter, save some time, and get everything done.
Automate your marketing
I cannot stress this enough: automate your email marketing campaigns.
We’re automating almost everything in our lives, so there’s no reason not to try email automation. Sure, it requires some upfront work and up-keeping. But even the initial input you have to make is made easier, with features that won’t keep you up at night reading “HTML for Dummies” (you know, like customizable templates, workflows, etc.)
If you had to constantly think of nurturing your leads, staying on top of your audiences’ minds and updating them on your news, getting feedback, A/B testing, tracking results, re-engaging subscribers and dealing with cart abandonment, sending out all the thank-yous and welcomes, all while remembering who’s who on your list and what time zone they’re in, you’d basically become a one-person marketing automation software. And a really stressed out one, with no time to unwind, pet a dog, eat, sleep, or just, you know, live.
So, instead of sacrificing your sanity to do all that, try marketing automation, and go for a walk while your campaign works on its own. When you come back, you’ll be surprised by the awesome results, and how much more you achieved with much less effort.
Be available on your own terms
If you want to be accessible to your coworkers at any time, you’re compromising your productivity. When you’re open to unplanned conversations at random intervals, you risk losing control over your day.
Even if you’re a leader, you’re allowed to be inaccessible. You’re allowed to have uninterrupted work time. Set your status to unavailable for a major part of the day. Answer emails and calls during hours you choose beforehand. Plan some days that are “no-meeting” days, to avoid spontaneous interludes while you’re in the middle of completing something much more urgent and important.
And if your vacation is coming up – please, (if possible) don’t make it a workation! Leave your worries (laptops, paperwork) behind and relax for a while. Be unavailable, spend time with your friends, family, or in solitude, and come back empowered to do more.
Listen to podcasts
Do you often find yourself complaining how much time you waste every day during your commute? How you would get more done if you could just teleport yourself to the office?
Do you sometimes spend hours scrolling through different playlists, earbuds in, looking for something that would motivate you to tackle your tasks, but Eye of the Tiger just won’t do it?
Are you focusing more on doing mundane daily duties than on learning new things, getting inspired, or taking advice from experts?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, try listening to podcasts. Fine, it might not exactly be “doing less,” but it’s such a subtle form of multitasking! Absorb a healthy dose of information without stopping what you’re doing, as you would do if you had to read an interview.
If you’re seriously overloaded with work, and you feel like there are problems you’ve been stuck on for too long – consider outsourcing.
Think of the things you could outsource. They may be simple, seemingly small, and not business-related, like cooking dinners. Then, find possible service providers and estimate how well outsourcing each of these tasks will fit into your budget. Even delegating a task that has to be done not more than once a week will make a huge difference.
Outsourcing will lift the weight of lingering tasks off your shoulders. It will leave you time to focus on things you specialize in, and most importantly: move forward without stress.
And even if you use that extra time to unwind and sleep – don’t worry. The latest data says that those who sleep more make better managers. They’re more positive and that positivity is contagious. People will be more glad to work with you, they’ll perform better, and they’ll be more productive, too!
Be happy with doing less!
Okay, now that I told you to “do less” and “get some time off,” I won’t bother you with too long of a summary!
But there’s one thing you should do before your long-awaited afternoon off – leave a comment and share your own best productivity tip below.