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Personal Productivity Guide: How to Maximize Your Time & Productivitly Levels

Posted by Maham Chappal
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Ask ten people what productivity is to them, and you’ll get ten different answers. 

For some, getting their 9 to 5 job done early and having time to spend with their family is productivity. For others, successfully taking on a side project along with their full-time job is productivity. 

What is Personal Productivity?

Personal productivity is how efficiently you can complete tasks important to you consistently. 

Productivity is more than a buzzword. More than the latest fad. 

  • As a manager, team leader, or employee, how do you get the most out of your day? 
  • As a parent, how do you complete your work on time so you can spend evenings with your children at home? 
  • As a freelancer, how do you manage multiple projects efficiently so you’re getting a high per-hour rate?

Why is Personal Productivity Important?

Being productive makes us happy like nothing else does. Ticking off your checklist for the day, finishing your task before time, successfully completing multiple projects is very satisfactory. 

Whether your goal is getting more money or achieving a perfect work-life balance, the more productive you are, the faster you can achieve your goal, and the more satisfied you’ll feel at the end of it.

How Do You Measure Personal Productivity?

Everyone aims to increase their productivity. Well the first step to doing that is tracking and measuring your productivity.

How productive are you every day, every week, and every month?

Measuring personal productivity requires you to make tiny, conscious changes to your routine. It involves eliminating distractions as much as possible, and ensuring that your every hour counts. 

There’s a simple 2 step process to measuring your personal productivity.

Step 1: Time Tracking

The most important step is tracking your time and activities. 

You can do it the old fashioned way with a notebook and a pen, or you can embrace technology and use one of the many online time tracking tools. Track every single activity that you do and every single hour.

So for example, if you’re tracking your workplace productivity, make a note of how you spend every single hour at work. How long is your lunch break, how many bathroom breaks did you take, how many hours did you spend catching up on emails and scrolling mindlessly on social media? 

And how many hours do you actually end up working? 

Track every single activity.

Step 2: Measuring Your Output

As Peter Drucker rightly said, “What gets measured gets managed.” (Also see Andy Grove and the concept of high-output management).

The next step is measuring your personal productivity levels.

The easiest way to do that is by creating a to-do list for all the important tasks you set out to achieve and checking off tasks that you’ve managed to successfully complete. So if you had five tasks on your to-do list, and you manage to complete three tasks successfully, your personal productivity levels are ‘fairly productive’. 

Another way of measuring your personal productivity percentage is by dividing total time with time spent productively and multiplying it by 100.

So if you’re measuring your workplace productivity, you work from 9 to 5 and you were productive for a total of 5 hours during the entire day, your personal productivity percentage is,

⅝ x 100 = 62.5%

This isn’t too bad! 

According to a study by the Voucher Cloud, in an 8 hour work day, the average knowledge worker is only productive for 2 hours and 23 minutes. 

However, keep in mind personal productivity is not just for work, it’s for every goal you’re trying to accomplish. 

If you’d like to deep clean your house on the weekend, the same method should be applied to measure how productive you were. 

How Can Personal Productivity Be Improved?

The next step is optimizing your productivity levels. Three business owners explain what steps they take to amp up their personal productivity.

1. Practice time blocking

“I find that mornings are better suited for more thought requiring tasks because the mind is well-rested and focused. Leave meetings, phone calls, and emails for the afternoon portion of the workday. Time blocking also helps with staying on top of multiple projects at once. Instead of giving all of your time to one project, time block specific days or times to push each project along,” shares Eric Wu, the co-founder and COO of Gainful.

2. Utilize the domino method for task management

“Every morning I organize the difficulty of the tasks I need to accomplish that day ranging from most to least difficult. Think about the tasks you put off until the next day and are more likely to procrastinate. I tend to put those tasks at the top of my list and get them done first thing in the morning. Once I get a burdensome task checked off my to-do list, I am more motivated to go after the rest of the list. This method creates a domino effect, causing me to get more done quickly by limiting procrastination, task anxiety, and ultimately significantly improving my productivity,” explains Tyler Forte, Founder & CEO of Felix Homes.

3. Get up early to plan your day

Kim, a lawyer and the founder of DocPro, a legal tech platform, shares, “I get up at 5 every day to make a list of things that I need to do for the day, prioritizing by importance and urgency. It is also the time when you are most productive and efficient with no distraction. You can get more things done between 5-7am than 4 hours of work in the afternoon.By planning your day first, you can set clear goals on what to achieve during the day. You should also use the time to handle the important matters and make important decisions.”

The Friday Daily Planner helps massively to roadmap your day and week and organize your tasks.  It's a great personal productivity tool that also integrates with your favorite task management apps, like Asana or Trello

Why is Productivity Important in a Workplace?

Did you know, one-third of your life is spent at work? But is all that time spent productively?

No!

Not only do one million workers miss work each day due to stress, but American companies also lose almost $65B annually because of employee sleep deprivation.

So the question isn’t how to work more, it’s how to make your time as productive as possible and increase employee engagement.

After all, a recent survey says that an engaged team will give you a 202% higher cumulative performance. But, a Gallup poll revealed that about 70% of your employees are disengaged during the average workday. 

This is why it's critical to ensure that your employees’ productivity levels are at an optimum level at all times.

How Do Distractions Affect Productivity?

60 seconds of mindless scrolling on Instagram costs you 25 minutes of work

Crazy right?

According to Gloria Mark, who studies digital distraction at the University of California, Irvine, “Attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

A study conducted by VoucherCloud showed that the average office worker is only productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes out of the working day. And reading news websites and checking social media were the top 2 distractions that derailed their productivity. 

This shows that most of us are terrible at focusing on daily tasks for long periods of time and that’s hurting our personal productivity. 

So what’s the solution?

  1. Blocking distractions. The easiest way to do this is by using the Friday Chrome extension that blocks distracting websites when you’re working. It’s a great productivity hack. Choose the websites you'd like to block when you need to focus and spend more time doing deep work. It's like time-blocking on steroids!
  2. And, incorporating productivity systems in your routine.

Which Productivity Systems Can Help with Personal Productivity? 

With 40% people suffering from financial losses because of procrastination and 74% of people feeling so stressed the past year they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope, the need to incorporate a productivity method into our life is immense.

So what are some of the best personal productivity systems you can incorporate in your daily routine?

1. Pomodoro method

Invented by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro technique involves breaking your tasks into 25 minute time chunks followed by a 5 minute break. After around 4 pomodoros (or productive time chunks) you take a longer 15 to 20 minutes break. 

You can also use Friday’s chrome extension to set focus time and block distracting websites. 

2. Kanban dashboard

In this method, all you need is a whiteboard (physical or virtual, both work great), some sticky notes, and a pen. 

Make three columns and label them to ‘Do’, ‘Doing’, and ‘Done’. Then write tasks on your sticky notes and once you’re done with a task, add that sticky note to ‘Done’. 

You can also use a free tool like Trello to create this system for your various tasks. 

MoSCoW prioritization

MoSCoW stands for,

  • Must have: all the tasks that you absolutely need to get done ASAP
  • Should have: tasks that are important but can wait a couple of days
  • Could have: tasks that you’d like to do, but you don’t need to tackle them right away
  • Won’t have: tasks that you’re trying to avoid 

In this personal productivity system, make a list of all your tasks and put them accordingly in these 4 boxes. This ensures that you’re on top of all your important tasks and nothing falls through the cracks. 

It’s very similar to the Eisenhower Matrix, where you organize your tasks depending on how urgent and important they are. 

Both methods work great for managing tasks and increasing productivity levels and personal development. 

How Do I Set Goals for Better Productivity?

While having goals is great, setting S.M.A.R.T goals is even better. It can help you massively amp up your personal productivity. 

So how do you set them?

S.M.A.R.T goals are,

  • Specific: Are they well defined and clear?
  • Measurable: How will your goal be measured?
  • Attainable: Are your goals achievable? 
  • Realistic: Are they realistic and relevant?
  • Time bound: Do they have a clearly defined timeline?

Use Friday to track your goals and ensure that you’re on the right track.

The Next Steps to Improve Your Personal Productivity

  • Write down all your goals and break them into small and manageable steps. 
  • Incorporate productivity systems to achieve your goals and hold yourself accountable. Use the Friday daily planner to start.
  • Eliminate distractions as much as possible.
  • Create a tech stack of productivity tools either for yourself or for your team. Use these to automate tasks, jobs, and to roadmap your day. 

Don’t forget to give yourself a pat at the back when you achieve your goals and reward yourself! You deserve it.

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