11 Tips to Boost Productivity

Amanda Page | Nov 20th 2012

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So you think you’re good at multitasking? Well, according to new research, only 2 percent of people can multitask effectively. The remaining 98 percent could use some serious time management skills. Here are some ways to boost your productivity.

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Take a break from technology

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While the primary goal of technology is to make tackling tasks quicker and easier, e-mail, social media, and smart devices can be real time-wasters. When you are feeling overwhelmed or need to get some serious work done, designate an hour or so to being free of tech distractions. The lack of distraction will allow you to focus more easily and for a much longer period of time.

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Dissect big projects and set deadlines

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Avoiding a huge project? Start by breaking it down into smaller tasks and assigning each task a deadline. This will help you visualize how the project will eventually come together, and it will give you a roadmap to follow along the way.

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Rank Tasks

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Procrastination is usually the real culprit behind lagging productivity. Most people find that making a list of tasks can help. Once you have a complete list, rank your tasks in order of importance and focus on tackling the more important or stressful tasks first. Conquering a difficult task right away is a great way to avoid stress and stay on top of things.

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Reward Yourself Frequently

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Nothing spurs productivity quite like a trip to the spa or a specialty latte from the local coffee shop.  Reward yourself frequently as you accomplish tasks. Think big rewards for big accomplishments, and smaller ones for lesser tasks. Before long, your brain will be trained to focus on accomplishing tasks and getting that next reward.

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Make promises

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When you have a long list of “to-dos”, tell others about your commitments and goals.  This will put you on the record and help you stay committed. Maybe you are okay with letting chores fall to the wayside, but others will hold you accountable. Following through on a promise is much easier when there is the perception that people are watching.

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Take a power nap

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Power napping is not only enjoyable but it provides a host of benefits including stress relief, better sleep, a healthier immune system, enhanced memory, and you guessed it–better productivity! If you can, try to sneak in a brief 20-minute nap. Studies have proven that this will help boost your energy and mental power to accomplish more in a day.

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Avoid the perfectionism trap

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People often waste too much time trying to perfect every little detail. When the deadline arrives, it’s better to have completed your entire “to do list” well than to have perfectly completed only half of it. Overcoming that perfectionist urge can do wonders for your productivity. Focus on what is required, and then come back and refine things if there is time.

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Shake up your environment

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Studies have shown that doing work in a coffee shop can help boost creativity. If you are in a cognitive rut, try packing it up and taking it to a corner café. Or if you are having a difficult time avoiding distractions at home, move to the nearest library. Sometimes distancing yourself from the usual distractions can help you hunker down and focus more intently on your tasks.

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Learn to say "no"

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Learning to say “no” when you have enough on your plate will help you focus on your tasks and do a better job at tackling them. If saying “no” isn’t an option, consider laying out an acceptable timeline when accepting the new responsibility. Don’t forget that not allowing yourself to rush projects will help you to maintain responsibility and high standards and ultimately establish credibility.

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Just start

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Getting started can be the toughest part. If you are too overwhelmed to try any of the other tips, just start on something that you need to do. Beginning a task will help you figure out what needs to be done and how long it is going to take. You will likely get in a groove and begin to accomplish more than you originally thought you could. Go for it!

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Look at cute animals

According to a recent Japanese study, looking at cute images promotes greater attention to detail and better overall performance. The study examined students who looked at cute animals and found that their academic performance exceeded their peers who didn’t observe pictures of cute animals.