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Productivity Ideas that really Work

If you are finding that your productivity isn't as good as you'd like it to be, these tried and tested ideas really do help to increase productivity and allow you to feel more in control of your tasks.

Get some sleep and have some downtime This one seems odd. Why would you sleep more when you want to get more done? Why would you spend time on hobbies if you are up to your ears in work?

Well, you can’t be productive if you are exhausted and stressed by all the calls on your time. You will start to hate your job or business because you are spending too much time in it, and will lose sight of why you are doing what you do. Motivation will hit rock bottom if you are tired. The saying "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" is not popular without reason.

You will be more productive if you switch off for a while each day. Whether you exercise, veg out in front of the television, pursue a hobby, read or meditate, whatever works for you. But do something different. You will get a perspective on your tasks and be more productive as a result.

Deadlines If you don’t have an externally provided deadline, then create one. Whether you are the sort of person who leaves the work to just before the deadline, or one who takes pride in submitting work well in advance of the deadline, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is to set deadlines so that you have to complete work by a particular time or date. If you don’t, the work just expands to fill the available time and you end up doing busy work that doesn’t contribute to the outcome.

Organise your day into chunks, fit tasks into time slots, and stick to those. It really does help to make you more productive.

Focus, Focus, Focus Don’t multi-task. Please. Just don’t. Most people don’t benefit from it and there is scientific evidence to suggest that it actually reduces productivity. It is much more productive to really focus on one thing at a time.

One way to do this is the Pomodoro Technique, which has you completely focus on a task for a set time, usually 25 minutes, and then take a five minute break. Do four of these task focus sessions, with the 5 minute break between, and then have a longer break of 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse and repeat.

Keep your To Do List short There are few things more stressful than a massive To Do list. You will spend much of the day panicking about how much you still have left to do on the list. This panic will affect your productivity because in the back of your mind you are always thinking of the next task and this affects your focus.

It is better to be realistic, have only three or four main tasks on your list and get those done. You can also add a few small tasks that need very little focus and can slot those in between the larger tasks. This can be helpful in giving your mind a bit of a rest before you tackle the next larger task. Things like answering Emails, making routine calls and setting up appointments would all count as smaller tasks.

By keeping your list realistic you can focus fully on each task on your list and you will complete them successfully because of this.

Notice what wastes your time And take steps to corral those things into a set timescale so that they cannot take over your day. Social Media can be a particular culprit here. Concentrating on interesting but less important tasks can also be an issue for some. For others it is new ideas. These are necessary but if you go off to research every shiny item you hear about, you may not complete all the things you need to do in the day. Adding new items to a "research later" list and setting aside a time to look at this and do the research at a time when you are not so pushed for time can be more productive.

Disorganisation and mess are the enemies of productivity I’m not advocating a sterile, clear desk that contains only a beautiful mug, a flower and one, beautifully clean, laptop. Who works on a desk that looks like one of those fancy flat lay photos anyway? Most of us work with a comfortable amount of stuff on our desk.

The important thing is to have space to work on the things you need to do, and to know where everything is. If you use it often, have it situated on the desk in a way that makes it easy to grab. File things in a way that makes sense to you so you can find things quickly and don't need to rummage about, tip out drawers or fling papers about in a mad search for the invoice you had last week.

You can be so much more productive in an organised environment. If your environment feels disorganised, you will feel that way too.

It can be useful to set aside time to tidy the desk or workspace on a Friday before you leave work. When you get to your desk on Monday you have a tidy and organised environment which will set the tone for a productive and effective week.

Talk to Someone

If you are struggling with your prooductivity, or you feel as though you have too much to do and just cannot work out how to move forwards, it can be very helpful to discuss the problems with someone else, outside the business you are in. Often they can provide suggestions for ways to streamline things which you may not have thought of, because they are not as close to the situation as you are.


If you are still finding things difficult, outsourcing may be the way forward. Handpicked Harrogate has a range of great businesses on our index to whom work can be outsourced and we also provide a few services ourselves which you may find helpful. You can access the business index here and view our business support packages here.

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