Productivity Cheat Sheet to Work Smarter
In a competitive market, you need to work smart to stay ahead of the curve. Have a look at this productivity cheat sheet to become better at what you do!
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A productivity cheat sheet to work smarter is essential to rapid growth. After all, it is the age of millennials where ideas are a dime a dozen, and there is very little time to manage things. Actually, now that I think of it, we DO have the same amount of time to get things done — it’s just that people are not very good at the managerial end of things. Regardless, this productivity cheat sheet is here to do you a solid. If you can, run it by your colleagues. Everyone will definitely benefit from it. Trust me.
Its benefits are not confined to the workplace only; you can practice smart working in your routine activities as well. People who say that they prefer hard work over smart work are either lying to come off as dedicated professionals or simply haven’t caught up with the modern age. Time is a luxury; managing it is the key to inevitable success. However, it does take some doing on your part. The good news is that you are not alone!
We have come up with the best productivity cheat sheet for you to work smarter and master productivity.
Here Are the Top Productivity Hacks to Up Your Game:
1. Create an Environment that Promotes Productivity
Let’s start with the most important thing – i.e. the environment. Never underestimate the environment you are in. It may not seem to have an immediate effect on your productivity, but that is not entirely true. Adopt smart working and see the difference for yourself! You can start by making your surroundings well organized. Clear out all the unnecessary information or material from your computer and your working station. Arrange all your files in a manner where you will be able to find them easily.
2. Pick Things to Focus On
Moving on, pick out three “areas of interest” where you want to focus for the coming quarter. These areas of interest should focus on things where you think that your time, energy, money, and resources are worth investing, primarily focusing on long term goals during the coming quarter. Your everyday routine work will not be affected by this, while your areas of interest will help you to prosper ahead. For example, you may focus on improving your marketing strategies, speeding up your collection system, increasing your lead flow, or making a specific major hire.
3. Evaluate Your Progress
Now that you have identified your three areas of interest, it’s time to figure out each one’s success criteria. Moreover, look for the signs of progress in one specific area of interest. It is essential to write down the criteria of success that are quantitively measurable to the maximum extent.
4. Identify Which Steps to Take
Now that you have decided on the top three areas of interest and the success criteria for achieving them, we can move to the next phase, laying out a plan on achieving your goals and objectives in the coming quarter. For that, you have to break down each focal area into five to seven steps. Your plan has to be detailed enough that it can guide your path to reach your goals. However, do not make things complicated for you to lay out the plan. Keep things simple yet effective.
5. The “Focusing” Question
“What is that one thing I should do, which will make everything easier or by which some unnecessary things can be avoided? It is a straightforward but tricky question. By answering this, you will provide yourself with an overview and a major focal point on how things will work out in the coming quarter.
Ask yourself what I should do today to come one step closer to our goals and objectives. Smart working requires scrutinizing tasks and selecting the ones which result in the highest productivity.
6. Learn to Combat Productivity Hijackers
A simple productivity hack is to evade ‘productivity hijackers‘. I mean that any activity that stands between you and productivity must be avoided at all costs. Learn to say “no.” You will be surprised to know many people find it difficult to say no to things. It starts with small things, and before they know it, it has become a habit.
7. Write It Down Lest You Want to Forget It!
Let’s admit it; we don’t give much thought to this notion. But we should. Writing things down is a great way to keep track of your performance. An ideal example of this is the very thing you are reading – a productivity cheat sheet to work smarter! No matter how good your memory is, a man simply cannot have enough mental maps. Make sure you write down every small detail of the signs of improvement and your actions to reach your goals to track down your progress during the coming quarter.
8. Rank the Targets
Prioritizing is a great productivity hack. It is also one of the most common issues faced by the people. Many people do not know the importance of it. The ones who do have a hard time deciding which tasks are more important than others. List your targets using one-to-ten ranking from the top priority to the least prioritized objective. Next, go through the list again before finalizing it. Once you have the final version of it, enjoy smart working!
9. Aim for Perfection
That’s right, folks! This is a great concept called Zero Defects, which was popularized by the good people over at Motorola. Professionals who want every task to be completed as soon as possible without regarding minor details that can make significant impacts will soon find themselves in an overwhelming load of unorganized work with a low percentage of client satisfaction. In other words, being a bit late is better than being a bit wrong.
10. Focus on The Output
It would be wrong to suggest you aim for perfection without telling you how to do it. Hers the thing; the output is what counts. Many companies access their employees’ productivity by the amount of time they spend in the office instead of appreciating the amount of work they do at a particular time. This is a primitive practice. Working hours are no longer a reliable measure of a worker’s productivity. Always prefer smart work over hard work. Life is easier that way.
11. Hire Smart Workforce
Another golden productivity hack to smart working is: Always look for the potential, not experience. At some point in time, you will be involved in the hiring process, directly or indirectly. A successful manager has an eye for potential. That’s because a few years back, the managers were at the same spot the recruit is right now. During the interviews, ask them how they can relate their skills to the job they have applied for. Have them explain their greatest professional or academic achievements.
A pro tip: situational questions are way more useful than the traditional interview questions.
12. Use the 80/20 Rule
We have the marketing people to thank for this rule. In marketing, it is said that you should listen to your customers 80% of the time and speak only 20% of the time. This methodology is applied to our daily routine. Think about this 20% of your efforts in the organization must pay off 80% of the dividends. Simplifying what I said above, make sure you complete the tasks that are most beneficial for the company.
Side note: Don’t forget to read all about the Pareto Principle. It elaborates on the 80-20 principle in detail.
13. Use Productivity Apps
How can we not include this in our productivity cheat sheet to work smarter? Apps were made for the sole purpose of making our lives easy. Everything, and I repeat, everything is made easier with apps. The best part is, most of these are free of cost. Using productivity apps to increase productivity is not a dependence on technology; it’s smart working.
14. Keep Your Inbox Empty
This piece of advice is going to serve you for the rest of your professional life. Having unread emails in your inbox highly unprofessional, and it must be avoided. Always try to respond to your emails as soon as you can or mark them ‘read’ if there is nothing to reply to. Visiting your inbox and finding that you have read all the emails is a great satisfaction.
15. Manage Your Attention Not Just Your Time
Managing your attention is as important as time management. Smart working requires your efforts to be focused on the things that have the most benefits. If you have decided that you are going to spend the next half an hour on making a specific report, make sure to give it your 100% time and attention because this is how you will achieve personal productivity and learning outcomes.
16. Say No to Multi-Tasking
Last but certainly not the least, leave the multi-tasking to amateurs. It does not count as a feather in your cap. Human beings are not designed to do multi-tasking because the human brain can only focus on one thing at a time. The more multi-tasking we do, the worst we get in everything. Multitaskers have to switch their attention and mind from one thing to another, a process known as “cognitive switching” thus, it decreases their productivity.
What’s Your Idea of a Productivity Cheat Sheet?
The rules of the game have changed. The world needs data, and it needs it fast. Your credibility is no longer the only thing desirable to your customers. They need a fast, responsive individual who can get things done in no time! On a personal level, this is the era of millennials; a generation with everything but time. To that end, feel free to improvise on this productivity cheat sheet. If you have tips that you would like to share, feel free to use the comments section below.
We would love to take a dig into your idea of productivity boosters.
Published at DZone with permission of Fred Wilson, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.
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