We’ve all had days like it… you seem to spend more time on Facebook than looking at that Excel spreadsheet you’re meant to be working on. Or you leave the office at the end of the day and you’re not actually sure what you’ve achieved during the eight hours you were sitting at your desk.
Because here at Red Platypus we fit in work around our busy travel schedule, we have to maximise our productivity when we’re in one place because we often need to get a lot done as we have masses of work to catch up on.
We believe in the 20/80 rule – put in 20% of the effort to achieve 80% of what you need to do.
Over the years, we’ve learnt a lot about making the most of our time. From when our travel blog was just something we did as a hobby on the weekends, until now – where we juggle full-time travel, our travel blog and our writing business each day – we’ve learnt a lot about maximising our productivity. And we’d like to share those tips with you.
5 tips to maximise your productivity
1. Pomodoro technique
The Pomodoro technique is a little intense but it’s something we’ve started recently and have found it really works. The Pomodoro technique was developed in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo where you set your timer (we use our iPhones) for 25 minutes. In this time, you work hard at one task – without surfing the internet, going to the toilet or doing anything else that’ll distract you – until the timer goes off.
Then you set the timer again for five minutes while you have a break to make a cup of tea, stretch, do jumping jacks – whatever you want to do to relax for five minutes.
And then it’s back to work again for the 25 minutes.
I’m using this technique to write this post – and I plan to have it done by the time the timer goes off, so that I can move on to my next task.
The Pomodoro technique is a great way for getting everything you need to do on your to do list ticked off in one day.
2. Blocking the internet
I’m not going to lie – it’s difficult for me to concentrate with all our social media channels around us. It’s tempting for me to pick up my phone and scroll through Instagram to check out the photos in my feed, or to pop on to Facebook quickly to wish someone a happy birthday.
But social media takes time. So schedule all your social media, using one of these tools, in the morning – and then forget about it until the evening.
Don’t be tempted to keep popping over to the net to check out someone’s wedding photos.
If you don’t have enough self-control to stop yourself from doing this – but you really need to get work done – then download an app like these suggested by Mashable to block the internet.
You can schedule in a time for how long you want to block the internet for, and then get your work done while you’re forced offline. Make sure you’re certain you want to block it though – once it’s done, it can’t be undone until the time is up.
3. Cut down on the meetings
Most of the time, meetings are a waste of time. If someone asks to have a meeting with you, ask yourself if it’s essential. If not, ask them if you can create a list of actions that they can oversee instead.
However, sometimes meetings are unavoidable. A good tip for not wasting time during meetings is to schedule all of your meetings back to back. This is perfect if they are Skype or conference calls, because often you’ll waste time waiting for the other person to get online, or you might have technical difficulties.
If you have your meetings scheduled back-to-back then once your time is up you can tell the person you have another call / meeting to go to and so you need to end the call. This is great for making the most of the meeting time and getting to the point straight away. Especially if you warn the person you’re having a meeting with at the beginning of the call that you have a limited amount of time to get sh*t done.
Another tip – make sure you have an agenda set before each meeting so you can stay on topic and achieve what you need to get done in the meeting.
4. Limit your email
Email can be such a time waster – especially if it’s continuously a back and forth conversation. Sometimes it’s much easier to pick up the phone and have the conversation verbally – this can save a lot of time. If you’re discussing something important, you can always send a confirmation email after your phone call so that you have an electronic copy of what was discussed.
I like to set aside time for my emails and stick to this. Normally this is first thing in the morning when I do my social media, and then in the evening before I stop work for the day. This way, everyone is getting a response in 12 hours (during the week) and I’m not continuously emailing throughout the day.
If something is important, I’ll mark it in my email and then reply to it at lunch.
Wtf does exercise have to do with productivity? A lot, actually. A study on mice has show that exercise can prevent mental slowdown as you age. But on a day-to-day basis, exercise will give you more energy – not just physically but mentally too.
At the moment, I’ve got a good exercise routine going which has helped me focus more when I’m working. I get up in the morning and either do a Zumba class or use my Nike Training Club app to work out.
Then after lunch I go for a half hour walk – this helps to clear my head and re-focus.
Finally, before dinner I do a half hour pilates class. This helps me to relax and unwind from the day. And these activities don’t have to be expensive. I bought a Zumba DVD set which I use (much cheaper than classes), the Nike app is free, and I watch my pilates instructor via YouTube.
6. Set a to do list
I love setting to do lists. In fact, I’m possibly a little obsessed with it. But there’s something immensely satisfying about crossing items off your list as you complete them, so I just can’t resist.
The best time to write a to do list is at the end of the day, so that you can prepare for the following day’s activities. This means that when you wake up you’ll already be focused on the day ahead because you’ll know what you’ll be doing.
I like the old-fashioned handwritten to do lists, but you can also use Google Tasks to help organise your day. The benefit of this is that it links with you Gmail, your mobile phone and your calendar – so you’ll always know what you’re meant to be doing, no matter where you are.