I’ve just read an article on the Harvard Business Review which discusses a survey based on the behavioural traits of productive people. If you want to be more productive (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) according to the study these are the three most important habits you should develop.

1. Plan you worked based on your top priorities — then act with a definite objective

  • Revise your schedule the night before to emphasise your priorities.
  • Send out a detailed agenda ahead of any meeting.
  • When starting a large project, sketch out preliminary conclusions ASAP.
  • Before reading anything of length, identify your specific purpose for it.
  • Before writing anything of length, compose an outline with a logical order.

2. Develop effective techniques for managing the overload of tasks and information

  • Turn daily processes such as getting dressed into a routine. Don’t spend too much time thinking about them.
  • Leave time for emergencies and unplanned events.
  • Check your screens once per hour.
  • Skip email messages by looking at sender and subject.
  • Break large projects into pieces.
  • Delegate tasks that do not further your top priorities to others.

3. Understand the needs of your colleagues for short meetings, responsive communications and clear directions

  • Limit meeting times to 90 minutes. End every meeting by delineating the next steps and responsibility for those steps.
  • Respond to messages from people who are important to you right away.
  • To capture an audience’s attention, speak from a few notes instead of a prepared text.
  • Establish clear objectives and success metrics for any team efforts.
  • To improve team performance, institute procedures to prevent future mistakes, instead of playing the blame game.

Source: HBR

The Ivy Lee Method

Tameday’s Tips to Be More Productive

  • Focus on one thing at a time – That means no more multitasking.
  • Set a realistic to-do list – This could be as simple as your three high priority tasks for that day.
  • Time yourself – Using a time will help you manage your time better and focus better.
  • Take regular breaks – Ideally, go outside for a walk or exercise.
  • Don’t have meetings – If you must meet, use the two-pizza rule that they use at Amazon.
  • Delegate low-priority tasks to others – Prioritise tasks using the Eisenhower Matrix (below).

The Eisenhower Matrix

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it. Everything you need to adopt to be more productive. But don’t expect to become more productive overnight. Be patient and hopefully with small improvements these behaviours will become habits.

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Related: Productivity Software for Small Business Teams in 2019