Our ultimate productivity guide

Ever wondered why you end up feeling stressed and frustrated even though you started your day with the right intentions to get things done? Maybe it’s because you’re trying to work harder instead of smarter. Here’s the ultimate guide to being more productive.

This blog post is by our fantastic health and wellness partners HMN24. They’re experts in nutritional supplements that optimise your brain, focus and sleep for 24 hour performance.

Getting started

No matter how organised and well-planned your routine, balancing work life, social life and home life can be tough at times. And any imbalances can drastically impact your productivity.

There are so many things involved in being productive. The HBR Guide to Being More Productive tells us that we must make time for what matters. We should also focus on our personal productivity style instead of following the generic rules.

Importantly, you should set realistic expectations and should understand that you can’t become more productive overnight. First things first, you should start with a clear idea about how to measure productivity. This will give you a baseline to work from.

You might find you need to implement time management strategies that help streamline your everyday work. If you’re looking to learn more about time management skills, have a read of Graham Allcott’s ‘How to be a Productive Ninja’ that highlights the importance of mindfulness and planning.

In the meantime, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to being more productive. Before exploring the details, let’s have a quick look at ‘what is productivity’ and its importance in your daily life. 

What is productivity?

Let’s define productivity. Productivity is about how efficiently we complete important tasks. It’s about being consistently efficient too. And importantly, productivity is all about choosing an attitude for constant improvement, where we can focus, optimise our performance and thrive.

How can we measure productivity?

We know productivity is a qualitative concept. Luckily, there are ways you can measure it. Here’s one of our tried and tested techniques that can help you measure productivity using a simple timer.

Use a timer to calculate the number of productive hours you have each day

First, you have to decide which specific activities you consider productive. For this, you can count activities that produce output.

Once you have a list of productive activities, choose a timer to track them. There are many options available on the market, you can even use your phone. Just find the one that works best for you. Now the toughest thing is to be disciplined in your approach.

You must start the timer on time (whenever you do something productive) and stop it if there’s an interruption. We know this is tough, but eventually, you’ll learn to manage your time. Once you have a record of your productive activities, you can review your results. This will really help you gain an insight into what’s distracting you, when you’re most productive and how you can improve.

How can we become more productive?

Here’s some expert-approved tips that will help increase your productivity and leave you with a sense of achievement every single day.

#1 Make a to-do list

One of the ways you can increase productivity is by creating a REALISTIC to-do list.

Here, the term realistic is super important. Why? Because if you make your to-do list way too complex, you won’t be able to create a perfect balance between different tasks.

As a result, you may have to face failure and it will shake your confidence for getting future work done.

#2 Set a morning routine

According to Marie Kondo, the popular Netflix star, starting your morning with positive energy is important for productivity. Starting your day with a morning routine, including a little exercise, will keep you fresh and productive all day long.

#3 Track how you spend your time

To increase productivity, you must track how you spend your time every day. This way, you’ll be able to calculate the amount of time you waste on unnecessary activities.

Once you identify which activities are squeezing too much time, you can swap them with tasks that are more important.

#4 Set small goals

No matter how big your project is, try to break it down into small, bitesized goals. Then set timelines for each goal separately. Sometimes what seems like a complex project actually won’t take much time once you’ve made it manageable.

Similarly, tasks that seem easy and uncomplicated in the beginning may turn into a disaster in the end.

So, make sure you get a clear idea of the complexity level and the amount of time needed before starting any particular project.

#5 Avoid distractions

There’s no denying the fact that gadgets make our lives easier in so many different ways. But it’s also a fact that these devices create a lot of distraction too.

So, to keep yourself focused, you must limit your screen time. It helps to tailor notifications so that you receive only the essential pings. Even try putting your phone out of reach and sight!

It’s also important to limit your social media activity. Your productivity will suffer if you keep getting distracted mindlessly scrolling through Instagram…

Getting into a state of flow, where we are entirely focused on the task at hand, is where we are most productive. Removing distractions is such a huge part of getting into the flow!

#5 Focus on one goal at a time

To increase productivity, make sure you focus on one goal at a time. One way to do this is to follow a 90-90-1 rule. This rule needs you to commit the first 90 minutes of your day to the most important task. As a general rule, you should follow this routine for 90 days to witness great results.

#6 Think about the benefits of completing a project

Keeping yourself motivated is key to productivity improvement. Think about the benefits you’ll gain once you complete your project. Once you identify the positive results, it will be a lot easier to get started and stay committed along the way.

#7 Make tasks less complicated

When the significance of a specific to-do feels overpowering, reassure yourself that it’s doable and YOU CAN DO IT!  

When it comes to productivity improvement, this little mind trick can go a long way. Go on, give yourself a boost!

#8 Invest in a productivity planner

There are many productivity planners and organisation apps available online and they can be helpful tools to keep you focused and increase your productivity. Make sure you check each product’s features carefully and select a productivity planner that works for you.

#9 Take it easy with the emails

If you feel tempted to check and respond to your emails over and over again, it’s time to change this practice.

With emails, it’s important to implement some strict time management skills. Allocating 10 minutes every hour or two to check your messages is more than enough to stay connected with everyone. Some people find checking their emails at the start, middle and end of the day works well too. If you think this is tough to practice, invest in an online time tracker to help you stay productive.

#10 Take breaks and reward yourself

One of the ways you can increase productivity is by taking frequent breaks every few hours. By taking breaks, you won’t feel strained and tired and the quality of your work will stay consistent.

Having a little chat with your colleague, going for a walk, or doing yoga will help keep you focused and fresh for a longer period of time. Needless to say, it will also increase productivity and your overall impact.

#11 Plan ahead

One of the ways you can increase productivity is to always make a plan for the week ahead. Try blocking out chunks of time to get work done too, rather than finding yourself stuck in meetings all day with short gaps in-between. Group your meetings together and then save blocks of time for focused work where you can really focus.

#12 Give yourself enough time to rest

Did you know you can achieve much more when you’re well-rested? No matter how important your work is, give yourself enough time to sleep. Proper sleep contributes to the productivity improvement process and helps you stay more active, engaged and creative at work.

#12 Find time to move

Daily exercise of 30-45 minutes will enhance your brain activity. It increases productivity and alertness, meaning you’ll be less anxious and more productive as you work towards those goals!

#13 And the rest

Make sure you also get enough sunlight each day, drink plenty of water and find time to relax and unwind. Whatever your healthy boundaries look like for you, they’ll help you be more productive too!

PS. Looking to learn more about how we work with corporates, charities, gyms, PTs and wellness partners to help get everyone moving and building healthy habits that last? Check out our website or reach out to Adam, our Head of Engagement. He loves a chat!

HMN24, experts in human performance

HMN24, experts in human performance

Jason and Phil built HMN24 from a lifelong passion for holistic human performance, one in which mental and emotional wellness is just as important as physical health. HMN24's nutritional supplements are for anyone wanting to fulfil their own unique potential and put health, wellness and critical thinking at the heart of who they are.

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