We live in a very competitive world, and this is reflected in all areas, including personnel but especially within the labour market.

Among the many qualities that are usually demanded and appreciated, one of the ones that companies take most into account is the productivity and efficiency of the subject (how much he can do in the shortest time possible). This is a factor that is taken into account not only when hiring but also during the performance of a job. Likewise, over time this productivity should increase as the person gains experience.

But we can often be left in doubt as to whether we are being productive enough, as well as intending to improve our efficiency and productivity. How can we be more productive? Let’s see it throughout this article.

Tips to be more productive

Our productivity and efficiency whether at work or in any other aspect of our life depends on a number of factors.

The motivation we have is one of them, but not the only one : our capacity of organization and concentration, the way we handle the accomplishment of tasks and the capacity to accept and react to changes are other of the multiple elements or factors that influence it. Therefore, in order to be more productive and effective, it is useful to take into account the following considerations.

1. What are you going to do today? Plan and organize the day

If we want to increase our productivity, the first thing is to get organized .

While in almost every job we must be able to adapt to change and in some areas plans can change completely from one moment to the next, it is essential to have a clear idea of what we are going to spend our time on and how we plan to do it. It can be useful to make a list or checklist if we need to. In this sense it is essential not to get overwhelmed: we may not finish all the tasks we had planned.

We must also take into account that there will always be unforeseen events , so when planning it would be good to take into account the possibility that something will go wrong, last longer than planned or other intermediate tasks to be done. It is recommended that we add half or at least 20% extra time to our estimate of how long it should take to do something.

2. Learn to prioritize

Beyond being clear about what we are going to do throughout the day, in order to improve our productivity it is going to be necessary for us to be able to prioritize what should be done first: what runs faster and what is more important (that is why it is so important to organize ourselves first and not leave the most relevant for the end).

Obviously the less urgent and unimportant tasks should be left for later. An exception could be the case if we get stuck with a task or it depends on others finishing theirs , in which case we can do other tasks to make the most of the time, if possible simpler ones, so that we gain confidence and take work off for later.

3. Divide tasks: make complex simple

Especially when the task to be undertaken includes a large number of elements and is of great complexity, it is convenient to try to separate it into different steps or simpler and shorter sub-tasks.

In this way we manage to organize ourselves in such a way that the task to be carried out is much more manageable and the level of difficulty involved is reduced .

4. Eliminate distractors

By this we don’t mean that you isolate yourself completely from the world, but that you try to block or remove stimuli that can attract your attention when you are busy with something else .

For example, wear helmets to cancel out ambient noise if you’re working at a computer, take things off the table that you don’t need, or work in places where the temperature, light and noise are as stable as possible without causing disruption. Do not work in front of a television (unless it is part of your job), put your mobile phone aside and do not look at the mail every five minutes.

5. One thing at a time

It is natural and very common that while we are performing a task we are thinking about how we will do the next one, and even that we try to do several things at once. With the possible exception of the simplest ones, it usually doesn’t work: doing several things at once is the best way to do them wrong and having to repeat them, besides being able to invest less resources in each of the tasks and slow you down.

So the best thing to do (except with automated tasks), is to focus on one thing at a time so that we can direct all our attention and resources to carry it out , something that will undoubtedly allow it to be carried out in a more agile and productive way.

6. Accept your mistakes and learn from them

We all make mistakes at some point, as much as it might bother us to admit it. But people who get caught up in them and are unable to accept them will see their productivity greatly diminished. To err is human, and it is an opportunity to learn.

In this respect, it should also be said that realising mistakes is fine, but if we want to improve our productivity we must also try to find methods to replace them or else we could fall back into them again and again.

Thus, one way to improve our productivity is to first assess and analyse where we go wrong or which parts of our work are slacker in order to be able to work on them. It is about learning from experience and being able to act accordingly, without martyring ourselves but assuming our responsibility.

7. Take short breaks

The human being cannot be constantly concentrated on a task, since our mental resources are limited. Although it may seem contrary to the idea of increasing productivity, it is advisable to take short breaks of a few minutes from time to time, so that our energy level can be maintained for longer as it is restored from time to time.

However, these stops should be short and not too frequent, and should not be made when you are fully concentrated on a task. Approximately a break of five to ten minutes for each hour would be most convenient .

8. Train your skills and shape up

An important point in increasing productivity is the idea of training one’s skills through various means. Elements such as discipline, reactivity, flexibility and willpower can be developed through techniques such as mindfulness, physical exercise or cognitive stimulation exercises.

It is also interesting to be trained continuously , learning about the field in which we are working even if we are not required to do so. With this we could learn new techniques or methods that can improve our effectiveness and performance, as well as add value to our company.

9. Recognize and reward yourself

It is important to value and recognize our effort and our work, even though we consider what we have done to be simple. We are not saying that we are doing an exercise in narcissism, but we are saying that we should allow ourselves to feel satisfied with ourselves if we believe that we have given the best of ourselves.

It is also advisable to be able to reinforce and reward yourself either with positive comments , by carrying out pleasant activities for us at the end of the day or even by giving us a treat from time to time.

  • You may be interested in: “Types of Motivation: the 8 motivational sources”

10. Eat and sleep well

A very important point to improve productivity is to eat and sleep properly. Good nutrition and sufficient sleep can allow us to perform at our best, while lack of sleep, hunger or poor nutrition will greatly reduce our potential.

11. Disconnect from work

Most of us have a stressful life marked by deadlines , objectives or time limits, something that although for some is stimulating in the long run can reduce our energies and affect our productivity.

In addition, we must remember that we are not only our work, but that work is only one of the facets of our lives.

It is important to be at what we are at work, but it is also important to be able to disconnect from it when we are not in the office. Resting and taking care of our personal life and leisure (it is not bad to have a hobby) is something necessary that allows us to balance our energies in such a way that we can dispose of them when we are in the work environment, increasing our capacity to be productive.

12. Recognize your own limits

This may be the most counter-intuitive element of all those listed in this article, but the truth is that being able to know what our limits are serves us to improve our productivity.

In this sense, first of all recognizing what resources we have and how far we can go helps us to plan, as well as not to assume an excess of tasks and demands that we cannot cover and that in the long run lead to overload, frustration and loss of productivity.

Likewise, the fact of having them located also allows us to try to train and promote our resources at an adequate pace so as to gradually increase our capacity as much as possible and thus assume more responsibilities without decreasing our productivity

Bibliographic references:

  • Nelson, D. (1980). Frederick W. Taylor and the Rise of Scientific Management. University of Wisconsin Press.