Being productive refers to being able to get more done with comparatively less effort. Every human being in this earth is gifted with equal amount of time. But some people progress too much faster than other. This is all due to his/her productiveness.
So, here are two major things which you can do to become productive:
1. Prioritize the task:
Have you ever felt like you have wasted your time in those works which have less benefit? This usually happens when you don’t prioritize your work and do the task which comes first, in a random way.
For example, if your friend asks you to do his homework, which he himself can do and furthermore if you do that, just to make him happy then does this helps you to reach your personal goal? Probably not. Even though that task was urgent but wasn’t important. At last you start to think that instead of doing his homework, I could have done other important tasks of mine.
To be more clear about important and urgent tasks look at the time management matrix given below:
In the given time management matrix your daily tasks can be divided into four quadrants in this way:
a. Q1 Task:
These types of tasks are both urgent and important. But, not too much important like Q2 tasks. This types of tasks helps to fulfill present needs.
b. Q2 Tasks:
These types of tasks are not so urgent but are very much important. For example, it is not so urgent to study for exam which is three months ahead but it is very much important because if you don’t study from now then you have to face various problem and stress later. Same goes for exercising, because if you don’t exercise now, then you will be unhealthy later.
c. Q3 Tasks:
These types of tasks are urgent but not effective to do. If you can then it is better to delegate this types of tasks to the person who can do it in better way. For example, imagine you are a businessman, so it will be very ineffective and less efficient to get involved in the tasks like washing clothes, cooking food, etc. So, it will be better to hire a person to do such types of tasks. By doing so, you will be able to save extra time to get involved in other productive tasks which you can do effectively. Perhaps you might have already started to delegate many of your tasks: like you don’t sew your dress, you don’t prepare your pencil, pen etc.
d. Q4 Tasks:
These types of tasks are neither important nor urgent. So, it is better to eliminate these types of tasks.
*Now how to prioritize:
For prioritizing create a To Do List. Make a list of tasks that you need to do tomorrow in notebook before sleeping. But don’t write the tasks that you do regularly like brushing teeth, making your bed etc, after you finish writing your To Do List, start to prioritize your tasks by using above mentioned time management matrix. While prioritizing, give your major priority to Q2 tasks because these types of tasks are not urgent, so they may get postponed. After Q2 tasks give second priority to Q1 tasks and delegate Q3 tasks as far as possible. And try to eliminate all the Q4 tasks as far as possible.
2. Practice 80/20 principle:
I think this term is completely new for you. But, effect of it is lying everywhere. It is also known as Pareto’s Principle. In 1906, Pareto, a Italian economist found that 20% of people owns 80% of wealth. At present also only 10% of people owns 85% of global assets. About 20% of staff in a office provides 80% of result. In forest also you can see 20% kind of tree occupies majority of forest. Just look around in your environment you will see this principle being applied in many things.
You also should be able to apply this principle in your daily tasks to be productive. For this, try to identify and focus on those 20% tasks which bring 80% of desired result. But this doesn’t means that you should ignore rest of 80% tasks but just give them less priority than those 20% tasks.
And next thing is, it won’t be always 80/20 but it can also be 70/30, 85/10, 60/40, 70/40, etc. here 80/20 is just a reference point.
You can apply this 80/20 principle on various conditions, in this way:
Instead of studying all the contents of book, give your major focus on studying important contents of book after discussing about such important contents with your teacher. Give your major focus on studying the matter which have already came in question paper of past exam. And observe the past trend of question setting. But this doesn’t mean you should ignore rest of the contents, try to study them also.
If you are a businessman then you can see majority of your products being consumed by few people. So, you should give major focus to such kind of customer who buys your majority of products. For example, in Indian TV channel, the majority advertisements are of IT products, luxurious vehicles and expensive products. Because manufacturers of such products know that majority of their products are sold in India than in Nepal. And they want to achieve more with less.
These are just two examples of applying 80/20 rule. There are various other sectors in which you can apply this 80/20 princple.
Beside those two major ways, there are other ways which you can use to increase your productivity. They are:
i. Allocate break strategically:
Many people believe that more they work continuously, then more better it will be. But it isn’t true. When one work continuously, then after sometime his productiveness starts to decrease. This is called ‘Law of Diminishing Return’, in this type of condition one’s outcome starts to decrease in spite of giving much effort. For example, when you start to study you may feel enthusiastic or productive in the beginning but after prolong period of study you will feel bored and becomes less productive. This is because of ‘Law of Diminishing Return’.
To avoid this kind of condition you should take short recreating break. To find when to take break try to answer these question:
- Are you feeling bore?
- Do you feel your output is getting less than input?
- Do you feel you can’t take anymore?
If your answer is “Yes” to these questions then you should take break. But during break don’t watch T.V or use internet because these type tasks can increase the time of your break. So, during break just do little stretch, walk, get motivated or do small tasks like making bed, sweeping flour etc. But if you are doing physical work then get some rest. And again return to your work.
ii. Stay healthy:
Can you imagine of being productive in spite of being unhealthy? Probably not, it will be very hard to be productive in such condition. So, to be productive you should try to reach your optimum health condition. Drink about 4 litre of water, eat healthy diet, get proper exercise and never forget to sleep between 7-8 hour (but amount of sleeping time required is different for different person).
Remember “Health is Wealth”.
iii. Increase your skill and efficiency:
Increasing of skill and efficiency helps to save time and get things done in better way. For example, when you were in nursery your handwriting used to be very bad and slow. But with time due to practice and learning of various skills, now your handwriting is faster and better than previous handwriting.
So, improve your skill and learn better way to do your work.
iv. Use your productive period:
What is your productive period (the time in which you are most productive)? You can be an early bird, night owl or one who prefer daytime to work. So, find out your productive period and try to use that period properly.
v. Set deadline:
You should set deadline to complete each tasks. Otherwise, that same task will takes more time to complete than it really requires. For example, if you set deadline of one week to complete a work then you will complete it fully or almost complete that task within the same one week period. But if you don’t set deadline then you will take more time to complete perhaps 2 weeks or 3 weeks.
So, for each tasks try to set deadline as it helps to increase your speed and action.
vi. Avoid multitasking and distractions:
Multitasking and distractions can reduce effectiveness and efficiency. Doing multitask especially while doing mental work can cause more errors and may cause loss of more time to correct such errors. So, while doing mental work try to focus on single task to get better result.
Distractions such as noise from crowd of people, vehicles, television and speaking of people can reduce the efficiency while doing mental work. To avoid such distractions move away to silent place or use white sound which you can download from internet. Furthermore, try to remove things like TV, cell phones, internet etc away from your work place or while you are working as far as possible.
vii. Organize your environment and tasks:
It is better to organize and de-clutter your room and the things which you need, than to waste your time daily searching things you need. A well organized and clean room not only helps you to get everything easily but also helps to remain fresh and feel good.
By organizing tasks you can do many things within the same time without reducing effectiveness. For example, while going to market to buy book, you can also buy copy, pen or other things which you may need within few days. Also try to create to do list as it helps to reduce your time being wasted for unnecessary things and prevent gap between two tasks.
viii. Get motivated:
There is great difference between the work being done with and without motivation. When you become motivated then you will do any task in more better and efficient way. So, while doing each task try to get motivated. For this find out why you want to do that task, think your task as a way to get stronger and better and you can also do few stretch or hopping.
ix. Learn from others:
It is not sufficient to trying to learn everything from your own mistakes. You should also try to learn from mistakes of others. For this, ask for suggestions and guidance to the adult or seniors who have already done the task that you are doing now. Share the ideas with friends who are working on the same task. Furthermore, you can use internet, various books and guides to learn more.
Learning from other’s mistakes and guidance is the best and shortest way to learn and progress.
x. Wake up early:
Early bird catches the worms.
Waking up early can give you tremendous benefit and opportunity to be better. It is easier to concentrate and become effective in the morning. Waking up early also gives you more time to work.