Whether you're a college student, starting your first entry-level job or looking to make a career change, you probably know how important it is to be productive. Setting short and long-term goals is a great starting point, but what methods will you use to achieve high productivity levels to reach those goals?
It's important to analyze your current productivity levels and identify potential areas of improvement. From there, you can implement some of the tips we'll discuss below to improve your productivity to help you achieve your goals.
Tips to Achieve Professional Productivity
If you're struggling to be productive during your workday, follow these tips to get back on track.
Set SMART Goals
Many professionals swear by using the SMART goal method to improve their productivity and achieve their goals. The SMART acronym typically stands for:
- Attainable (Achievable)
- Relevant (Realistic)
- Time-bound (Timely)
Follow the SMART acronym to outline goals. Here's a pro-tip: always handwrite your SMART goals. Research suggests that handwriting notes can promote higher information retention, which keeps you on track to meet your goal.
When your goal has SMART qualities, there's a better chance you'll reach it. There are many online resources to help you form SMART goals, with many of them providing useful examples for professionals across all industries.
Employees in today's workforce grapple with many distractions, from social media and online shopping to responding to emails and conversing with colleagues. Distractions pull you away from entering periods of deep work, a time of uninterrupted, distraction-free concentration.
When you engage in deep work, you will notice that you're more productive throughout the day. Make an active effort to reach a state of deep work by eliminating distractions. A distraction can remove you from deep work instantly, but it can take up to 20 minutes for you to regain the momentum needed to reenter a state of deep work.
Anyone claiming they can multitask during a workday is lying or does not know the true meaning of multitasking. According to the Cleveland Clinic, humans are designed to monotask, meaning our brains can only focus on one task at a time.
One study reported that around 2.5% of people could actually multitask. Everyone else is probably engaging in what is called "task-switching." Task-switching can cause mental blocks, make you inefficient and unproductive and more prone to distractions and errors. Focus on one task while you work to help you meet your goals.
Tips to Achieve Personal Productivity
Many professionals also have personal goals they'd like to achieve to fuel self-growth and feel empowered. The feeling of accomplishment and knowing you've completed high productivity can make reaching personal goals worthwhile. Consider using the SMART goal method for your personal objectives, too — this goal-setting process works for both!
Here are some other tips to help you boost your productivity to achieve your personal goals.
Follow the Two-Minute Rule
Sometimes, we spend more time deciding what task to complete than actually doing it. Rather than agonizing over when to do something, follow the two-minute rule. David Allen, a famous productivity consultant, coined the phrase in his book, Getting Things Done.
Allen states, "if an action takes less than two minutes, then do it now." Knocking small tasks off your to-do list will give you more time to accomplish bigger, more meaningful tasks. Following the two-minute rule will increase and help you maintain your productivity.
Categorize Your Goals
You can set many personal goals for yourself, but choosing unrealistic goals or too many can be overwhelming. When you identify your personal SMART goals, organize them into easily digestible categories.
Here are some categories to file goals under:
- Financial goals
- Growth goals
- Creative goals
- Health and fitness goals
- Family goals
Sorting your personal goals into these categories can help you clearly define how you intend to reach them and which types deserve the most time and attention.
Exercise Best Time Management Practices
Your time management skills will directly impact your level of productivity. The better your time management skills are, the more productive you will be. Therefore, it's important to fine-tune how you manage your time, which gives you more opportunities to work on your personal goals.
A few practices include using the 80/20 rule, a.k.a. Pareto's Principle. This rule states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions. Apply this principle by focusing on 20% of the items on your to-do list that will have the most significant, positive impact on the process of you reaching your goals.
While it is great to be a team player, you won't stand a chance of reaching your personal goals if you're sacrificing your time to help others achieve theirs. So, learn to be assertive and say no if other people's demands conflict with you achieving your goals.
Reach Personal and Professional Goals by Bolstering Your Productivity
Anyone can set a personal or professional goal, but that doesn't mean they're prepared or have the necessary resources to achieve it. Achieving personal and professional goals will help you become the best version of yourself and a well-rounded individual. These qualities are critical if you want to advance in your career, but they can also help you lead a more enjoyable life. Consider the tips above to focus on improving your productivity to help you achieve your goals.