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If you are too busy, you are doing something wrong.

In our fast pace modern world we are all looking at doing things faster, smarter, better, so it’s no wonder that productivity hacks are incredibly popular.

We all need a little productivity boost every now and then, but how do we accomplish more? How do we make more money, work smarter and not harder? How do we buy back time?

1) Plan, Plan, Plan…

The number one secret is very simple, you have to plan!

Every morning, take 5 minutes to map out your day. First, write a list of all the tasks that you need to accomplish for that day. Prioritise each task and then work out where each task sits with the below 4 points.

  • What needs to be done today – Do it now!
  • What can be scheduled on your calendar for the week – Plan for it!
  • What can be delegated so to take away that task – Give it away!
  • What needs to get done but can be done at a later date and put a date to it – Do it later!

2) Identify Your Personal Strengths & Delegate Your Opportunities

When it comes to your relationship or career, what are your personal qualities that make you a unique individual and what sets you apart from everyone else? If you are not sure and this may be a blind spot for you, ask your work colleagues, friends and family to help you out by asking them – What do you think are my strengths?

Or… you can go through the below questions to find out your strengths:

  • What has been your greatest success?
  • What do you get praised for all the time?
  • What do you consider your strongest character traits?
  • What activities do you thrive on? What lights you up?
  • What are your favourite jobs at work? What makes you happy?
  • More than anything, what sets you apart as a unique individual?

Delegating your opportunities makes a lot of sense so you can focus on the things you do best in supporting the business. Focusing on your strengths and delegating your opportunities is a way to effectively optimise your time and utilise the talent around you – one of your opportunities may be a colleague’s greatest strength and it makes perfect sense to let the expert’s within their field do what they do best. Your opportunities are the things that you dislike the most.

3) Manage Meetings Wisely

Across the world one of the biggest reasons for the loss of productivity hour is a meeting. How often have you sat through a meeting saying to yourself – “well that was a waste of time? I could have used that time more productively by finishing, what I was working on”.

So… how do you decide if a meeting is worth it or not? Having a definite outcome to a meeting before hand is key and then before saying yes, ask yourself the below questions.

  • Do I need to physically be there?
  • Can I use Skype to save me time?
  • Is this meeting going to add value to my business or me?
  • Can someone else attend the meeting on my behalf?

Saying that ‘I think it is of great value to have human interaction’ is a trap we have all succumbed to with this fast pace environment and moving at a faster speed. The truth is that most meetings can be held online or through a quick call, unless it is critical that you need to be there. I personally avoid meetings if they are not necessary, as they can be a time wasters. I very often suggest options rather than do a face-to-face meeting. Time is of essence.

4) Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

If you are like me, a people person, my default position was to say yes all the time. When you say yes all the time and go to unnecessary meetings that are a waste of time just to please others, your work will suffer and you will miss deadlines. Sometimes you just have to say no, to give you back your time.

In the end, you are a human and you can only do so much. It’s wonderful to be ambitious, but overachieving can turn into overwhelming in a matter of seconds. It’s alright to say no when you have too much on your plate, you will have all the time in the world to gain new clients or projects when a few of your existing ones clear up. Don’t ever endanger your health by overworking yourself.

5) Avoid Continuously Checking Emails

Another one disruption to our productivity is emails; there’s a little tip right there, avoid checking your emails to get things done!

According to research, if we consider checking emails including our devices (mobile, tablet), an average user can check up to 150 times per day! I know, shocking, right? Emails can greatly affect our level of productivity. So what do we do?

  • Turn off alerts and notifications
  • Keep Mobile devices on silent
  • Remove all mobile devices and gadgets
  • Set up an auto reply

The most important way to improve productivity is to not let emails constantly interrupt you and your tasks at hand. By removing all distractions it allows you to focus on your work without the constant interruption from notifications, calls, and text messages. You may decide to check your emails only three times a day, once in the morning, then early afternoon and finally late afternoon or early evening.

We are creatures of habit and if we want to increase our productivity, we need to plan, work with our strengths and remove all distractions. We can create a new habit by using these tips continuously for 21 days without missing one day to create new neural pathways in our brain to increase our productivity.