How to Increase Your Personal Productivity

What is a typical work day like for you? How much time do you really spend on the important tasks?Increase Productivity

If you've ever looked back on the week and thought that you didn't get as much done as you wanted to, you know what it's like to feel overwhelmed knowing that everything you didn't accomplish this week will result in working more hours just to catch up. It can be a fierce downward spiral when the work just keeps piling up. If you work for yourself you know that time is your most valuable asset and you can't buy more time and the clock is always ticking.

The solution is to increase your personal productivity and here's how:

Start by tracking your time for one week. It may be hard to do but if you want to be more productive you have to find out where your time is going. Even after the first day you'll have some insight as to where your time is going - but a full week is best. If you aren't sure how to keep a time log you can use a stopwatch, write it on a scheduling book, or even use the Time-Logger.

The key is to be as detailed as possible so be sure to include reading email, watching / scanning the news online, phone calls, meetings (even the impromptu ones), idle water cooler chat, surfing the 'net, eating, breaks. If you get up from your desk, you need to make a note for tracking your time. You may have up to 100 entries in a day.

At the end of each day look at the tasks and sort them into categories. Consider what percentage of the day you spend in each category. If you are like most office workers, you'll find that you only spend about 1.5 to 2 hours a day on real, productive work.

Next, scrutinize the way you spent the week you were tracking. How much work did you actually finish? How many hours were you "at work?" Now you should be able to see clearly where your time was spent and the potential opportunity to increase productivity.

Take the next step and you can calculate how efficiently you are working. If you divide the number of hours you actually work by the number of hours you are "at work." What is the percent? If, for example, you are only working 50% of the time, it would be foolish to simply increase the number of hours you are working. But by focusing on actual, productive work within the hours you have you'll be more productive.

Responsive Time Tracking System for ConsultantsTo get to the point of higher productivity, cut back on the number of hours you are "at work" to force an increase in your productivity. Think of the Friday before you leave on vacation. Isn't it amazing how much you can get done in that one day? Use the same principle with your overall week. By cutting back from 60 to 40 hours and focusing on how you spend the time you'll increase your productivity.

Once you get the hang of the "work less hours-get more done" routine you can gradually increase the number of hours you are at work while maintaining the efficiency level you've achieved. There is a point at which it is not possible to put in more hours because your productivity, no matter what you try, will drop from "overwork." This is the importance of balance and when you have your workload in balance you'll have more time to enjoy family, friends and outside interests.

Tracking time is the critical part of this process and, while it may be difficult to discipline yourself to track every little thing for a week, the longterm payoff is well worth the effort.

Don't skip the "hard" stuff in favor of easier, less time consuming items. Instead, break these down into smaller, bite size pieces. Make a list and take satisfaction by crossing items of the list. By taking the task one bite at a time you'll soon find you have completed the job.

Reward yourself when you complete the task within a certain time frame! Make the size of the reward compare to the level of the task. This is especially important for procrastinators because you need the incentive to start and stick to the task.

Equally important, don't let yourself feel guilty if you didn't’t do something at the time you assigned yourself, sometimes you won't make the deadline. But don't reward yourself either! Remember, guilt is one of the things that will make you continue to procrastinate so try to get rid of that feeling. Instead focus on completing the task and identifying ways to make sure you stay on track with the next task.

Procrastination can be one of the biggest roadblocks to success. It eats time because less important jobs take precedent over more valuable, success oriented tasks. By managing the tendency to procrastinate you'll find yourself feeling exhilarated by the feeling of productivity and you'll see your career take off.

Why wait any longer before taking action?

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