A productive new year

Have you resolved to be more productive this year? Are you under pressure to produce more results in less time? Tricia Wanjala provides some tips from the experts

NewYearIn years past you were deemed productive if you spent a lot of time at work. Today we live in a knowledge economy. We are paid to produce results, not merely to clock up hours. To advance, we must produce more results in less time. How? Here are some tips from the experts.

Be honest with yourself
Often we already know what we should do, but we find it difficult to change our habits. New York Times bestselling author Ramit Sethi insists that it is futile to keep learning productivity tactics. Instead, he teaches his students to understand and overcome their psychological barriers to productivity.

Manage your energy
Your output depends more on your energy levels than on the amount of time you spend. A task can take six hours if you are tired, but 30 minutes if you are alert. If you are a night owl, instead of trying to force yourself to be a morning person, capitalise on your natural energy cycles. Schedule your phone calls and correspondence for the morning. Block out time later in the day for work that requires serious concentration. If you are a morning person, start with the hardest task first while your mind is fresh.

Use systems
“Willpower fails us, which is why systems are so important,” explains Ramit Sethi. “If it is not on my calendar, it does not exist.” Put a routine in place. Automate regular tasks and organise your environment to ensure productivity even when your motivation runs low.

Determine your actual work
Tim Ferriss, bestselling author of The 4-Hour Work Week, learned how to increase his output tenfold and scale his work week back from 40 to 4 hours. To do this, first you have to figure out what your core work is. Map out your deliverables, audit how you are spending your time, then eliminate time-wasters that masquerade as work. He advocates for a ROWE (Results-Only-Work-Environment) and proclaims: “If you cannot measure or evaluate the work in some way, you should not be doing it.”

Advance preparation
Abraham Lincoln said: “Give me six hours to chop a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Top Performers spend the bulk of their time preparing behind the scenes. Professional chefs call it mise en place. A master chef can prepare for three hours during his time off, to produce a dish in 30 minutes when his shift begins.

Cut out distractions
Business mogul Warren Buffet invited his pilot Michael Flint to write down his 25 personal career goals. He instructed him to circle the top five. Everything else became his ‘Avoid at all Costs’ list. After he mastered the five he could move on to the others. Laser focus, not multitasking, is the key to real productivity. Be it weekly, monthly or yearly goals, say NO to anything other than your top five priorities. Flint went on to launch his own successful airline thanks to applying this advice.

University of Bristol survey reveals…
Workers are more productive (with better time management, interpersonal performance & effectiveness) on days where they exercise in the morning before work.

Harvard Medical School survey reveals…
Adults who regularly get been 7.5 and 9 hours sleep per night can be up to 20%
more productive.