The Productivity Playbook: 9 Tips to Accomplish More
Multitasking maestros and vision-realizers, welcome! If you’re here reading this i’m guessing you wear an impressive array of hats. You’re tasked with a myriad of responsibilities, and amidst a constant buzz of distractions, it’s your skilled hands that turn the abstract into concrete success. This is for the doers, the believers, the relentless achievers—here’s to refining habits that not only steer clear of the noise but also steer the ship confidently to its destination.
1. Time Blocking: How to Master Your Schedule
Time blocking is a time management technique where you dedicate segments of time to specific tasks or types of work. The idea is to focus on one thing at a time and to limit multitasking. This helps give structure to your workday and helps you get more done.
How to implementing time blocking:
- List Tasks: Write down all the tasks you need to accomplish.
- Prioritize: Determine which tasks are most critical and should be tackled first. Think, what will move the ball forward?
- Estimate Duration: Decide how much time you need for each task. Hint: Give yourself more time than you think.
- Assign Blocks: Schedule each task into a specific time slot on your calendar. And be realistic!
- Execute: Focus solely on the task during its allotted time.
- Reflect and Adapt: At the end of the day, review your progress and adjust your time block accordingly.
A Few Tips for Effective Time Blocking:
- Use Digital Calendars: Using a tool like Google Calendar is excellent for time blocking. Digital calendars allow you to color-code tasks, making it easy to distinguish between different types of activities at a glance.
- Plan for Interruptions: Build short buffer periods between your time blocks. These act as cushions for when tasks overrun or unexpected issues arise.
- Maintain Discipline: Treat your time blocks as sacred. Unless there’s an emergency, each block should be dedicated to its task, and other distractions should be avoided.
- Be Patient With Yourself: It takes time to build the discipline around the practice and expect some trial and error when you’re first getting started!
Book Recommendation: “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport
2. Diving Deeper: Deep Work and Strategic Breaks
“Deep Work” is a concept coined by Cal Newport that refers to the practice of focusing without distraction on complex tasks. The idea is that by working deeply, you can produce higher quality work in less time, leading to greater productivity.
How to practice deep work:
- Choose a Task: Select a task that is important and requires your full attention.
- Eliminate Distractions: Find a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted. Turn off notifications and set expectations with your team that you are not to be disturbed. Consider and auto-response if you’re virtual or a sign on the door if you’re in the office!
- Set a Time Limit: Decide how long you will work on the task. This could be as short as 20 minutes or as long as several hours, depending on the task and your ability to concentrate.
- Work Intensely: Dive into the task with full concentration. Resist any temptations to check email, social media, or engage in other distractions (See tip #7!)
- Take Breaks: After the work session, take a break to rest your mind. Short breaks can help maintain a high level of focus and productivity throughout the workday. Bonus points if it’s something away from your computer like taking a brief walk!
Tips for Deep Work:
- Schedule Deep Work: Plan ahead and set aside specific times in your calendar for deep work sessions – some of your timeblocks should definitely be deep work sessions!
- Train Your Concentration: Like a muscle, your ability to concentrate will improve with practice. Start with shorter periods of deep work and gradually increase the duration. Read about the “Pomodoro Method.”
- Measure Success: Don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments, it will give you momentum! Keep track of how much you accomplish during each deep work session to see how your productivity improves over time.
- Communicate Clearly: This goes hand-in hand with time blocking – make sure your team knows you are in deep work and why it’s important to THEIR success. Make it clear that during these times, you are not available for calls, emails, or impromptu meetings unless there is an urgent issue.
Book Recommendation: “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport
3. Focus on Results, Not Just To-Do’s
It’s about the importance of outcomes over simply completing tasks. We all have that never ending to-do list – and just checking items off a never ending list makes it feel like you’re spinning your wheels and getting nowhere. When you focus on results – the unnecessary things will either go away or get done later. And you’ll be left having accomplished clear objectives that move you forward. Shift your mindset from being busy to being effective.
How to get results instead of checking off to-do’s:
- Set Clear Goals: Define what successful outcomes look like for your projects or daily work. Heard of SMART goals? These should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant (aligned with your larger objectives), and time-bound (has a deadline).
- Prioritize Tasks: Evaluate your to-do list based on how each task contributes to achieving your goals. Prioritize tasks that have the greatest impact on results.
- Plan Your Work: Organize your tasks by scheduling them in a way that allows you to focus on high-impact activities. Use what you learned in the sections about time blocking and deep work!
- Review and Adjust: Regularly review your progress towards your goals. If certain tasks are not leading to the desired results, adjust your approach or reprioritize as needed. We suggest a weekly review of your goals with an accountability partner, a team member, or a coach!
Tips for Focusing on Results:
- Results-Oriented To-Do List: When creating your to-do list, reframe tasks in terms of the results they aim to achieve. For example, instead of writing “hold a team meeting,” you might write “align team on project goals to ensure everyone is on track.”
- Outcome Metrics: Establish metrics that help you measure the effectiveness of your tasks. This could be the number of leads generated, customer reviews received, or completion of a big project.
- Communicate Expectations: Are you sensing a theme here? A key to success is always setting expectations with your team. You will inevitably get asked, “Can you do x, y, z right now?” And if it isn’t truly urgent or a priority, let them know you’re working from priority, why that’s important, and when you will be able to get the “x, y, z” done.
Book Recommendation: “The 4 Disciplines of Execution” by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling.
4. Understanding Your Personal Productivity Zones
Know your green, yellow, and red zones – this is a method of aligning tasks with your natural energy levels throughout the day. And, note, these can be different for everyone! An individual’s focus and energy fluctuate, and certain times are better suited for specific types of work.
Here’s how to identify and use these zones:
Green Zone: This is when you’re at your peak—mentally sharp and highly focused. It’s the best time for tasks that require deep concentration, problem-solving, or creativity.
Yellow Zone: During this time, your energy starts to dip. It’s still possible to work effectively, but you’re not at your peak. This period is suitable for administrative tasks, meetings, and correspondence.
Red Zone: This is when you have the least energy. It’s often later in the day when fatigue sets in. Use this time for routine, low-cognitive tasks that don’t require much mental effort, like data entry or organizing files.
How to Implement:
- Track Your Energy: For a week or two, note down your energy levels at various times of the day.
- Assign Colors: Label these periods as green, yellow, or red zones based on your observed energy patterns.
- Schedule Tasks: Plan your most challenging work during the green zone, intermediate tasks in the yellow zone, and reserve the red zone for simpler, routine work.
Tips for Working Within Your Zones:
- Be Consistent: Try to keep your green, yellow, and red zone tasks at the same times each day to establish a routine.
- Stay Flexible: Your zones might change based on external factors or life changes, so be prepared to reassess and adjust as needed.
- Communicate Your Schedule: Let your team know about your zoning system to help manage expectations and minimize disruptions during your green zone.
Book Recommendation: “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing” by Daniel H. Pink.
5. The Power of Planning Ahead
Planning ahead is like giving your future self a roadmap. It clears the fog from what you need to do, dials down the stress, and helps you focus on what really matters. When you plan, you’re not just reacting to life as it happens; you’re taking charge, deciding in advance how you’ll spend your time and energy on the things that truly count.
How to Plan Ahead:
- Weekly Planning: At the end of each week, take some time to review what was accomplished and what wasn’t. Look at the bigger picture for the next week and identify your goals and the chunked down tasks it will take to accomplish them. Prioritize these items and allocate them to the appropriate time blocks on your calendar.
- Daily Planning: Each afternoon (we recommend at least a couple of hours before the end of the work day), plan for the next day. Refine your to-do list, ensuring that the most important tasks are at the top. Consider any meetings, appointments, or deadlines that are scheduled for the day. This helps to hit the ground running the next morning with a clear action plan.
Tips for Effective Planning:
- Set Clear Objectives: Define what you need to achieve by the end of the week and each day. Make these objectives specific, measurable, and time-bound.
- Prioritize Tasks: Use a prioritization method, like the Eisenhower Matrix, to determine which tasks are urgent and important, and which can be scheduled later or delegated.
- Review and Adjust: Be flexible with your plan. At the end of the day, review what was completed and shift any unfinished tasks to the next appropriate slot in your calendar.
Book Recommendation: “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” by David Allen.
6. Maintain a Tidy Workspace
An organized workspace makes it easier to think clearly and reduces stress.
How to Keep a Tidy Workspace:
- Declutter Regularly: Start by removing any unnecessary items from your desk. This could be old documents or personal items that don’t serve a daily purpose.
- Clean Routinely: Set aside time at the end of each day for a quick clean-up. This can involve wiping down surfaces, putting things back in their place, and preparing the space for the next day’s work.
- Digitize: Whenever possible, digitize documents to reduce physical clutter. Use digital note-taking apps and online filing systems to keep your workspace as paper-free as possible.
Tips for a Tidy Workspace:
- Follow the One-Touch Rule: When you handle a piece of paper or any item, process it immediately. File it, toss it, or take the needed action instead of setting it aside for later.
- Adopt Minimalism: Keep only what you need on your desk. A minimalistic approach can help in maintaining a tidy space.
- Personalize Wisely: While personal items can make your space feel comfortable, too many can be distracting. Choose a select few that motivate you without causing clutter.
Book Recommendation:“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo
7. Minimizing Distractions: Pause the Notifications
In our buzzing digital world, it’s a breath of fresh air to mute the endless stream of notifications. Doing this can sharpen your focus, boost your productivity, and give your brain a much-needed break from multitasking. It’s about creating a space where you can dive deep into your work without being pulled away, allowing you to flow smoothly from one task to the next.
How to Minimize Distractions from Notifications:
- Audit Notifications: Go through all your devices and applications to assess which notifications are necessary. Turn off any that are non-essential or that can be checked at designated times instead of immediately.
- Use ‘Do Not Disturb’ Modes: Most devices have settings that allow you to silence notifications for specific periods. Use this during times when you need to focus on deep work or attend meetings.
- Designate Times for Checking In: Instead of responding to notifications as they come in, set specific times for checking emails and messages. This could be at the top of the hour or at set intervals that align with natural breaks in your work.
- Create Physical Barriers: If possible, keep your phone face down or in another room during periods of deep concentration to prevent the temptation to check it whenever it pings.
Tips for Reducing Notification Distractions:
- Batch Process: Check and respond to messages in batches at set times to increase efficiency and decrease constant context-switching.
- Set Expectations With Your Team: Tell your team what your plan is so they can adjust their expectations around your availability.
Book Recommendation: “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World” by Cal Newport
8. Eating for Energy
A balanced diet is the fuel that powers both the body and mind, sustaining energy levels for peak performance throughout the day.
How to Eat for Energy and Productivity:
- Balance Your Meals: Incorporate a mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to keep energy levels stable. For instance, a lunch with lean protein, whole grains, and fresh vegetables can provide steady energy instead of setting you up for a midday crash.
- Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can lead to fatigue. Keep a water bottle at your desk and sip throughout the day to stay hydrated.
- Snack Smartly: Choose snacks that combine protein with fiber, like an apple with almond butter or carrots with hummus, to fuel your body between meals without causing a sugar crash.
- Limit Sugar and Caffeine: While sugar and caffeine might give you a temporary boost, they can lead to an energy crash later. Limit intake and choose less processed sources of energy.
- Plan and Prep: Prepare meals and snacks ahead of time to avoid reaching for unhealthy convenience foods when you’re busy or stressed.
Tips for Nutritional Productivity:
- Start with Breakfast: Eating a nutritious breakfast sets the tone for the day. Consider foods like oatmeal, eggs, or Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts.
- Eat Regularly: Skipping meals can lead to drops in blood sugar, which can zap energy. Aim for regular meals and snacks.
- Mindful Eating: Pay attention to how different foods affect your energy and focus. Use this awareness to make better food choices throughout the day.
Book Recommendation: “Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes” by Tom Rath
9. Surround Yourself With The Right Tribe
The company you keep can significantly elevate your work. Surround yourself with people who match your dedication and drive, as they can be the catalysts that propel you toward your ambitions. And bear in mind that conversely, spending time with those who don’t share your commitment can drain your energy.
How to Surround Yourself with The Right Tribe:
- Identify Your Goals: Clearly define your own goals and values. Knowing what you’re working towards makes it easier to seek out others you’re in alignment with.
- Network Intentionally: Seek out networking opportunities, both in-person and online, where you are likely to meet individuals who share your ambitions. This can include classes, masterminds, conferences, and social media groups.
- Build Relationships: Once you find like-minded individuals, invest time in building meaningful relationships. Regular interactions, collaborations, and knowledge-sharing can strengthen these connections.
Tips for Building a Tribe:
- Quality Over Quantity: It’s more beneficial to have a smaller circle of deeply connected, goal-aligned individuals than a large network with weak ties.
- Be a Giver: Offer help and support to others in your network. Reciprocity strengthens relationships and creates a positive, collaborative environment.
- Continuous Engagement: Keep the conversation going. Regular meet-ups, whether virtual or physical, keep the network active and beneficial for all involved.
Book Recommendation: “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi
You’ve made it through the playbook, and it’s clear you’re not just here to play; you’re here to win. These habits are more than just good ideas—they’re your new best friends in the quest for top-notch productivity. They’re about making sure that at the end of the day, you’re not just crossing things off a list, but actually crushing those big goals. Remember, being an Ops Boss® is about being the boss of your own journey. So, take these habits, make them your own, and watch as your workday transforms from busy to boss-level brilliant.
Feeling pumped and ready to put these habits into action? Great! That’s the Ops Boss® spirit. If you’re looking to step it up even more, come join the tribe at Ops Boss® Coaching. It’s not just a place to learn; it’s a place to grow, share, and connect with others who are just as fired up about this as you are. Don’t just dream about being more productive—make it your reality. Book a call with us so we can discuss your needs and let’s start this journey together. Your path to productivity greatness starts here and now. Let’s do this!