Create more time and headspace for innovation
One of the most significant barriers to innovation that busy business people say they face is lack of time.
The purpose of this article, and the video below, which I filmed from the Sunborn Yacht Hotel on one of my work trips to Gibraltar, is to share some personal productivity hacks that I use personally, and also work wonders for my clients. The better we manage our time, and the more we can minimise thinking about routine things, the more headspace we will have for creative thinking and turning our great ideas into action.
Every one of us has a budget of 168 hours every week, whoever we are. How we use those hours is completely up to us. You can use those hours really effectively if you use these productivity hacks.
Hack 1: Get a good night’s sleep!
Make sure that you get a really good night’s sleep regularly. I know I sound like your mum, and it might seem a bit boring, but having good quality sleep is proven to help with your productivity throughout the day. It means you will think more clearly, make better decisions, and have a sense of perspective when things get a bit more challenging. A good seven to eight hours’ sleep every night can make all the difference to how effective you are at work if you’re not getting enough sleep at the moment. If you’d like more evidence, or some practical tips relating to sleep, have a look at Arianna Huffington’s sleep resources and book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming your life one night at a time.
Hack 2: Get to the bottom of why you’re procrastinating
Make sure you avoid procrastination. Procrastination means putting off doing something. There are usually a few reasons why people procrastinate.
Sometimes you might be procrastinating because the task itself is boring.
If that’s the case, break the task down into bite sized chunks, and give yourself a small reward when you have done each section of the task.
Fear of failure
Another reason for procrastination is that you might be afraid of failing. If you don’t want to fail, the pressure can lead to you putting off getting started. The irony of this is that it gives less time to work on the task, and the likelihood of failing increases!
Be mindful of what is driving your procrastination, and of fear of failure is the underlying cause, use that fear to mobilise you into earlier action.
Fear of success
Sometimes we might also have a fear of success. Although deep down we want to achieve our aspirations, sometimes that can mean significant change if they were to become a reality. The uncertainty of change and what it could mean for us can sometimes be a strong, almost subconscious reason why we procrastinate at times.
To deal with this it helps massively to really work on self-confidence and self-efficacy, which is how much we believe in our ability to achieve, even when we don’t know exactly how we are going to do it. Think of all those reasons why you should be successful, and what life would be like at the end. Think about that vision that you set for yourself. For more specific insights on how to build self-confidence, check out my article How to become more self-confident.
The task is enormous
We also procrastinate sometimes because the task is so enormous that we don’t know where to start. It all feels very big and complex.
The key here is to break that task down into manageable items, smaller pieces of work. Then tackle those smaller pieces of work one at a time.
Hack 3: The magic of batching
Batching means getting tasks of a similar nature all together and doing them in one sitting. This could mean tackling your e-mails only once or twice a day instead of doing them as and when they come in. It could mean getting a list of things you want to talk about with an individual together and having one sit down meeting instead of having several phone and e-mail conversations going backwards and forwards. Or if you have to do a lot of reading to do, then just get that reading together, save it up, and put some time aside when you can get through it in a single session.
Batching is effective because we know that it saves time from having to set up and put things away multiple times. Plus, because we get into a rhythm of doing similar things, we get faster and more efficient as we go. Batching is so easy, and it really does help with productivity.
Hack 4: Multi-tasking is a myth
There is no such thing as multi-tasking. In reality we can only do one task at a time, using our active cognitive functioning. When we think we are multi-tasking, we are not. What we are doing is toggling between one task and the next, we are going backwards and forwards.
Multi-tasking takes more time because we have to remember where we left off and pick it back up again. When we are doing something such as writing a paper or presentation and respond to interruptions, for example email alerts on our screen, our attention is diverted, and we lose our flow. We leave the presentation, attend to the e-mail, and then go back to the presentation.
Research shows that on average we can lose at least 23 minutes every time something like that happens. It takes us that time to finish what we are doing, and then remember where we were when we left off.
Turn off all of your alerts, focus on what you are doing, and then pick everything else up later. You will get the job done much more quickly. Some specific studies I have done show that when people focus on one thing instead of multi-tasking, they can often finish tasks in half the time.
100 minutes now to save hours of time later!
I hope that you have enjoyed these quick productivity hacks. In my Idea Time Membership, I have a more extensive online programme that takes just 100 minutes to complete and will save you hours of time in the future if you implement my time management tips and techniques. You can do each section in bitesize chunks at a time and place to suit you and have access to all my other online courses and live webinars too. If you have enjoyed some of what you have read today, hop on over to www.ideatime.co.uk/membership. I look forward to seeing you inside the Idea Time Membership!