Make this week your most productive week this year. Josh Davis, Ph.D., author of the international bestseller, Two Awesome Hours: Science-Based Strategies to Harness Your Best Time and Get Your Most Important Work Done and Director Research at the Institute for Personal Leadership offers his advice for drastically improving your productivity.
He advises “Adapt to the fact that work is more of a thing you do versus a place to go,” and then follow these tips:
Don’t try to fill up every free minute
It’s tempting to try to use every 10-minute gap when you are in transit or between tasks. However, when we try to fill every minute, we block ourselves from making the big-picture decisions about what is really worth working on.
Brief gaps between meetings or while commuting are ideal for stepping back and looking at the big picture because they represent some of the few times in the day when you can make a choice about what to work on. You waste time when you start on the wrong work, and taking time to think and plan is how you can avoid that.
Choose your workspace thoughtfully
Now that work can be done anywhere and at anytime, it is easy to try to work even while surrounded by distractions. Research shows that most people perform better in a silent environment, with bright light. A clean, uncluttered desk also allows you to focus because you aren’t consistently reminded of all your unfinished tasks. That said, find the working environment that works best for you.
Work with your mental energy
When considering starting a task, check in with yourself. If you are worn out, emotionally drained or have just been focusing intensely for a while, you are likely to perform worse and take longer on tasks. It can be a waste of time to work on new tasks or projects, especially ones that require deep thinking. Instead, work on the less important items on your to-do list when your energy or motivation is zapped, and come back to the important work after a break, a work out or sleep.
And to really make you productivity go through the roof, check out this tip from our very own Kevin Eikenberry.
Josh Davis, Ph.D., is the director of research and lead professor at the Institute for Personal Leadership. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, and Barnard College of Columbia University. He has written for HBR.org, strategy + business, Psychology Today, and People & Strategy. He lives in New York City.