Most of us have, at some point in our lives, felt busy all day then realized we have actually done very little. This is very natural in this day and age for we live in a society that rewards distraction and overcommitment with social status. Here are two simple ways you can increase your productivity by hacking away the unnecessary.
1. Say “No”
When I was taking a management class in college awhile back the professor always praised the workhorse that would say “yes” to any and every request from not just their supervisor, but also their peers. This may seem noble to the naked eye and you yourself may love the coworker that you can always count on if you need a hand but you may have noticed that there has been little to no vertical growth for that coworker compared to those that were in the same position. It is because he is consumed in his desire to appear affable to his coworkers and swamped in the work of others that he can no longer perform the duties that were specifically given to him by a supervisor.
Know when to say no and know how to say no. You do not have to be someone who only focuses on performing your duties because you will attain the same vertical growth of the coworker that always says “yes.” Just be sure you can perform your duties with little to no stress before taking on someone else’s request. When saying no, you do not always have to give a cold response. Examples of what you can say include, “I am swamped right now and need to direct my attention to a more difficult task” or “I am not the most efficient at that task but I know that [insert coworker’s name here] is great at that.” If a supervisor asks you to do something when you have already been given another task from him and don’t think you can handle doing both say, “I would be happy to do that for you but I am already working on the previous task you gave me so which should I prioritize?”
You may currently pride yourself as having the reputation of the workhorse at your current employer because you seem amiable to others and are well respected. You may be scared to say no because you think that others will then dislike you. This is far from being right. At first, yes, you may get a disgruntled look from the requestor but in the end they will only respect you more after seeing how efficient you are at your own work.
The other scenarios that you have to say “no” more often are in social settings. Say you are in college and a classmate asks you, “Do you want to rage tonight?” You have to be able to say no to that if you value your productivity at all. You can not let your ego convince you that your friend is right when they say, “You’re being a loser.” Be steadfast in your objective. Do not waste your time doing things that serve no purpose to you. Also, do not think that saying no to a friend a couple of times will kill the relationship. If it does, then they were no friend in the first place.
2. Have a Routine
Most successful people have a routine of some sort. Why? because it allows your brain to go about the day with minimal thought behind the actions it is performing so you free your mental capacities to focus on other matters. Without a routine, you often think about working before working. With a routine, you come in knowing what needs to be done with little to no thought behind it. When you do not have a routine it is easy for things like television, social media, or a passing friend to rob you of your time without you even noticing. One can be so consumed in electronics that they have an hour pass before they lift their head up to see what time it is. That is why it is important to have a set time during your day where you work and where you relax.
I find it beneficial to allow one hour to be free in the afternoons and most of my Saturdays so if I run into a friend I can say, “I’m busy now but can eat dinner at this time today or on Saturday.” If nothing comes up for the day then I just allow myself to read at my leisure on those free hours and Saturday. Most of the time scheduled in my routine does consist of working out in the morning, work during the day, and reading in the evening. I find routines a great to stay on track of all of my goals because I cannot say to myself, “Oh I have been so busy I forgot to workout/blog/read/etc.” You allow yourself no excuses to neglect your goals when you have a routine.
You can do more by simply doing less. Do not make things harder than they have to be for yourself. Make a routine, follow it to the t, and say “no” when you can not afford to say yes.