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11 Expert Tips to Help You Be More Productive in 2014

| March 25, 2014

by Jim Bruce

Today’s reading, “11 Expert Tips to Help You Be More Productive in 2014”, is one of those pieces written for a specific time, early January 2014, which on second thought, are applicable at any time of the year.  This essay by Kathleen Davis, Leadership Editor at, shares tips she has compiled from eleven super-productive people that address how they manage so much.

1.  Focus on One Big Task at a Time.  We easily get distracted by the minutiae about us.  David Rusenko, CEO of Weebly says that we need to set aside what distracts us and get started on, and then stick to, one real project.

2.  Organize Your Day in Time Blocks.  Ekaterina Walter, CMO at Branderati and author of Think Like Zuck, says to break your day into blocks of time according to when you are productive.  Then schedule the work where you really have to be “ON” into the high productivity blocks.  For example, for me it’s the morning and I try to reserve those hours for me to work on projects without interruption.

3.  Do Things You Don’t Want to Do.  Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote:  Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, argues that “You don’t have to ‘feel like’ doing something in order to do it.”  Just schedule the time and do it.

4.  Don’t Get Paralyzed by Perfection.  Psychologist and author Art Markman reminds us “A career contribution isn’t made in a single ideal moment.  It is a collection of good and great moments that add up over time.”  It is generally better to get something out of the door than continuing to work on it to remove every flaw.  

5.  Stay in the Moment.  Douglas Merrill founder of ZestFinance and formerly Google’s VP of Engineering tells us that “If you feel overwhelmed, it might not be because you have so much to do, but rather that you are trying to do too much at the same time.”  Focus on one thing at a time.  It’s physically impossible for your brain to multi-task.

6.  Put your Brain on AutoPilot for the Small Stuff.  Don’t waste your time on the small daily decisions that take up brain space.  Figure out how you are going to do them and just do them that way;  “reduce decision fatigue.”

7.  Write an Old-Fashioned To-Do List.  Francesca Gino, professor at the Harvard Business School and author of Sidetracked:  Why Our Decisions Get Derailed and How We Can Stick to the Plan writes out a to-do list every day and checks off the items as they are completed.  She says “Seeing the progress makes me feel good and, research says, more productive.  It also helps me be a bit more realistic in understanding what I can accomplish every day, and which tasks are top priority.”

8.  Get an Accountability Partner.  Laura Vanderam, frequent FastCompany contributor and author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, points out that the promises we make to ourselves are easy to break but “It’s much harder to call a friend on Friday and inform her ‘I failed.’”

9.  Don’t Check Facebook.  Drake Baer, who spent most of 2013 writing about productivity, didn’t spend his breaks by checking social media or email.  Instead, to keep him being productive he goes for a walk, gets a snack, or finds a conference room for a brief bit of mediation.

10.  Deal with it Only Once.  Zen Habits author Leo Babuta says “Deal with something only once.  Do it now.  Then it’s off your mind, and you can fully focus on the next matter.”  David Allen, productivity guru known for his Get It Done methodology, argues for the 2 Minute Rule.  If you can do the task in two minutes, just do it.  Overall time taken will be much shorter than if you leave it to come back to later, etc.

11.  Escape into Single-Tasking.  Author and entrepreneur Faisal Hoque believes in single-tasking.  “Being in the moment allows us to escape from adversity, conserve our inner energy, and be more consciously productive.”

I’m sure that at least one of these tips can help you increase your productivity and your sense of getting things done.  Pick one out and give it a test drive.  I’d like to hear how it worked for you.

.  .  .  .     jim