3 Great Productivity Tips

In this day and age we face an endless barrage of distractions, from the vibrations and alerts on our smartphones to the breaking news stories and viral videos awaiting us at our desks. This can make jobs that involve marketing & advertising or SEO & Social Media a nightmare. Now, more than ever, we need strategies for being productive.

1. Own your time. Our most satisfying work comes about when we’re playing offense, working on projects that we ourselves initiate. Many of us know this intuitively yet continue allowing ourselves to spend the vast majority of our days playing defense, responding to other people’s requests.

Many of the experts I interviewed believe that top performers take steps to ensure a favorable offense-to-defense ratio. Tom Rath, author of Are You Fully Charged?, recommends blocking out time to work away from email, programming your phone to only ring for select colleagues, and resisting emails first thing in the morning until you’ve achieved at least one important task.

2. Recognise busyness as a lack of focus. There’s a satisfying rush we experience when there’s too much on our plate: we feel needed, challenged, even productive. And yet that pleasurable experience is an illusion. It robs us of our focus and prevents us from making progress on the work that matters most.

Sociologist Christine Carter, Ph.D., an expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, put it this way: “Busyness is not a marker of intelligence, importance, or success. Taken to an extreme, it is much more likely a marker of conformity or powerlessness or fear.” Instead of viewing busyness as a sign of significance, top performers interpret busyness as an indication of wasted energy.

3. Challenge the myth of the “ideal worker.” Far too many of us continue to believe that an “ideal worker” is one who works constantly, often at great expense to their personal life, but there’s overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Being productive requires recognising that you can’t work for extended periods of time and maintain a high level of performance. As humans, we have a limited capacity for focused attention. And yet, as Brigid Schulte, journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller Overwhelmed, points out, we have been seduced into thinking that if only we try harder and work longer, we can achieve anything.

Top performers take a different approach. They recognise and honor their physical limitations by getting plenty of exercise and sleep, cycling between 90-minute bursts of focused work and short restorative breaks, and taking time to disconnect from email for some portion of their off-hours.