Have you ever wished you had a bit more time in your day? I think we’ve all run into that on occasion. Well, here are some productivity tips you can try to save some time throughout your day, giving you that little bit of extra time you need to keep up with your daily tasks and stay focused.

1. Eliminate distractions

A clean, organized work environment helps eliminate distractions. If you’re like me, you probably go from task to task to task and by the end of the day your desk feels pretty disorganized. And by the end of the week, well, let’s just say you may have to spend part of your weekend getting your office back to a reasonably organized condition before your next week starts. If you don’t, by the end of the month you may be drowning in paperwork.

For me, a lot of my tasks are spread across several days, so I have to block out my time on my calendar to get my tasks done on time. So, staying organized can be a problem for me. How about you?

Plan your time blocking so that you include time to maintain control of your processes and materials. It will probably take less than five minutes to put the stuff away and add notes to your calendar entry for tomorrow, so you know what needs to be done next, instead of wasting time backtracking.

At the end of the week, you won’t be feeling overwhelmed by the mountain of STUFF you have to put away, so you’ll have a much more relaxing weekend. And for the projects that carry over to the next week, you’ll have entries in your calendar to get you started, right where you left off.

2. Handling your Email.

Many people will tell you NOT to check your email first thing in the morning because you can get caught up in it and totally loose track of time. However, how do you know how to plan your day if you don’t have all the information you need? I often get questions or requests from clients, prospects, staff and/or friends in my email, and I really try to respond to these emails as quickly as I can. Often I have a real challenge staying up to date with my email, but I’m working on it.

The idea here is to limit how much time you devote to reviewing your email, not answering it. Maybe you can devote 15 minutes to get a clear picture of what you need to address that day. Maybe it will take you longer. The idea is to just review your email and sort them into folders to address later. Create folders for ASAP, Important, Later, Delegate and Trash. This way you can see how much work needs to be done ASAP and decide how to schedule your time to handle your email into today’s schedule.

For me, I schedule two times a day to check my email, once first thing in the morning and right after lunch. But make sure you don’t spend more that 30 minutes at each time slot to review your email. And don’t forget to plan time into your schedule to handle email follow-ups.

3. Set your mobile devices to “Do Not Disturb”.

This goes along with #1 above to eliminate distractions, but here I want to remove the notifications from Social Media. WAY TO OFTEN, we are working hard on a pressing deadline and social media notification alerts on our smartphones go off and we just CAN’T go on without checking out who sent us an update about where someone is going for lunch. Or a tweet from so and so letting us know about this or that. You will NEVER get those extra few minutes (or longer) back to get your tasks done today, if you allow all of the notifications to distract you!

4. Set deadlines for yourself, and then cut them a bit.

It’s been proven that if you set a deadline that is easy to hit, you will hit it, and probably waste a bit of time in getting there. It’s also been proven that if you set a deadline shorten than you think you need, you will likely meet that deadline, too. It’s really interesting how your mind will help you focus if you set a short deadline. So, if you want to gain a few minutes every day, set your deadlines to what you think will work, then reduce them by ten or fifteen minutes. Think about how much time that could save you every day.

5. Automate as many tasks as possible.

Look for any tasks you are still doing manually and try to find ways to automate them. For instance, do you still manually produce documents and then email them to someone to get their input or approval? Maybe you should consider moving to Microsoft Office 365 or Google G Suite, where multiple people from several department can collaborate on a document in real-time, eliminating the email, review, update and repeat process. That could save hours or days of time, for multiple people. With the array of technology available today, almost anything can be automated, or at least reduce the amount of time a given process will take. You can also automate tasks such as expense reporting, task management, data backup, event scheduling, etc.

6. Establish processes.

Many businesses believe it take more time to write, review, update and repeat the process development cycle than the final process document will save. Really? You only need to create the process once, put it into practice and update it occasionally when your methodology changes, to save time, and establish a consistent system to train new employees on. Sound like an excuse, so someone doesn’t have to put in the work to me.

7. Focus on one single task at a time.

Multitasking may sound like a great idea but in reality, it’s just not a very good idea. Research shows that multitasking results in a decrease in efficiency and work quality and makes filtering out unrelated information and organizing our thoughts even more difficult. So focus on one task at a time and get them done, unless those tasks will take days to complete, then use calenda time-blocking to keep yourself on track.

8. Delegate what you can before you start your own work.

That way, your team can be working on their part of the project rather than waiting for you to finish before starting their part of the project.

9. Schedule quiet time into your day.

Even just 15 minutes to clear your head - without interruptions – will give you a boost in mental capacity. Don’t believe me? Just try it!

10. Tie your activities to your goals.

If it doesn’t move you toward your goal, delete it or delegate it. Ask the following questions about every one of your tasks,

  • How does this activity move me toward my/our goals?
  • Does this improve our product or service?
  • Does this help us improve our customer’s results?
  • Does this help us meet our customer’s needs?
  • Does this improve our bottom line without negatively impacting our customers?

Try to tie all your activities back to the big picture, no matter how small the activity is.

Long days at the office can be tough, so give yourself some time to unwind every day, or you may experience burnout.

Add some distraction time to your schedule. It can be anything from checking your phone, social media, going for a walk... Every 2 hours, you should have at least 5 minutes to take a break.

By scheduling distractions, it helps keep them out of your work time and keeps your stress levels down.

I hope these tips have provided you some value.

I’d love to hear from you! What tips would you like share to improve productivity and focus? Put them in the comments section below or send them to [email protected]