We often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day because we have too much to do and not enough time to do it. But how much of our precious time is spent on activities that distract us from our goals? The key to maximizing your time and productivity is to be proactive, not reactive. Staying ahead of your tasks, schedules, and goals can give you more control over your time and increase your productivity.

Here are 10 habits you can adopt to boost your productivity:

1. Make Lists

Lists help organize upcoming projects and tasks. Create a list the night before with tasks for the following day. This will help you focus on the highest priority items of the day without wasting time in the morning trying to figure out which tasks should be tackled first.

2. Bundle Your Tasks

Tackle tasks in batches to make a long to-do list feel much smaller. Set aside time at the beginning of the day (or the night before) for certain tasks, for example: email catch-up and phone calls. Scheduling time for these allows you to continue focusing on the task at hand without constant interruptions. Also make sure to block off time for your most dreaded tasks, it’s best to take care of these in the morning so you don’t think about them all day.

3. Track Time

Tracking your time gives you something tangible to look at and identifies any tasks or projects that take longer than they should. The record will give you something to learn from and build on to enhance your productivity. If you are setting aside and tracking time on specific tasks and projects, give yourself less time than you think you will need. Setting a timer for your basic work creates a ‘due date’ for you to push towards.

4. Take Breaks

Our brains can zone out when focused on one task for an extended period of time. Brains need rest and refueling as much as the body does. Take a small mental break when you begin to feel sluggish and unproductive and come back recharged, productive and ready to work.

5. Stop Multitasking

Multitasking isn’t as productive as people think. Multitasking is essentially switching between tasks which can lead to loss of focus and backtracking to determine where you left off. Improve your productivity by breaking your multitasking habit and try focusing your attention on one task at a time.

6. Use the “2-Minute Rule”

If you see a task or action that you know can be done in two minutes or less, do it immediately. According to entrepreneur Steve Olenski, completing the task right away actually takes less time than going back to it later. Get the little things out of the way as they come in and save your focus for the tasks requiring more of your time and effort. (source)

7. Plan Your Meetings

Meetings can be one of the largest productivity killers. If a meeting can’t be avoided, at least make it efficient. To avoid inefficient and long meetings that kill your productivity, create an agenda for the meeting and stick to it. Make sure everyone in the meeting is aware of the agenda and knows what they need to prepare in advance. Save good ideas that aren’t in line with the agenda for discussion at a later date. These meeting habits will keep the meetings productive, timely and focused.

8. Get Some Sleep!

Without enough sleep, you will have more trouble focusing on tasks. Sleep also affects accuracy. Lack of sufficient sleep can lead to mistakes which will take more time to correct, decreasing your productivity. Do yourself a favor and catch some extra zzz’s — at least 6 hours per night — in order to elevate your brain function and productivity.

9. Avoid Distractions

Distractions are one of the biggest productivity killers. Here are the top five workplace attention destroyers, according to a 2015 survey by CareerBuilder:
· Cell phones/texting
· Internet
· Gossip
· Social media
· Email
Avoid distractions by turning off your phone (or put it on “Do Not Disturb” mode), reducing the number of tabs you have open and setting aside time for emails and phone calls. (source)

10. Learn to Say No Gracefully and Respectfully

If you know you don’t have time for a meeting or to take on a new task, don’t be shy – say no. Delegate tasks that you don’t have time for or you know would be pushed back or rushed. Saying no will allow you to maintain focus and maximize productivity on your high priority tasks.

Productivity is as important at home as it is in the workplace. Pick a tip or two from our list to apply over the next couple of weeks and comment below with how it goes. If you are looking to take financial planning and management off of your task list, reach out today. We’d love to add it to our list.

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