TLC Loves… being super-productive

When running your own business, getting the most out of your working hours – and those of your team – can have a real impact on the bottom line.

There’s a huge amount of science out there about productivity, so here is some food for thought on how you could work smarter, not harder.

Every journey starts with a single step

According to clever scientists, just getting started can be the biggest barrier to getting things done. The brain doesn’t like to leave things unfinished, so even though you will probably try to distract yourself with a thousand little things before tackling the big hairy project you should be doing, if you just get it underway you’ll be more likely to be successful.

More work doesn’t equal more productivity

A US Army study on productivity calculated that the optimum amount of time we can work at peak rate is 90 minutes. A 15-20 minute break is then needed to let the brain decompress and recharge ready for the next effort.

Another well-known approach is the Pomodoro technique, where you work for concentrated blocks of 25 minutes, with a five minute break in between. After four of those blocks you take a longer break.

Try a work timer like Focus Booster, or if you prefer to have music or sounds to help you concentrate (and there’s research to back up the powerful effects of that too) then try Brain.FM.

Deadlines help get things done

You know that task you keep moving to the bottom of your to-do list? It’s probably because it doesn’t have a deadline. To get things done you need a sense of urgency and a way of prioritising different tasks.

Even if there’s no specific deadline for a task, set one so that it doesn’t hang around like a bad smell. You’ll get lots of satisfaction from ticking it off! (For the ultimate ticking-off satisfaction, try out Asana, which occasionally heralds completed tasks with a flying narwhal.)

You have one job…

Or put another way, multi-tasking is the enemy of productivity. Over and over again research has proved that concentrating on one thing is far better than trying to juggle many, so turn off your notifications, log out of your emails, and gift yourself dedicated time for the one major thing you need to get done.

It’s something the TLC team have been trying, and we’ve really found it helps. There’s nothing worse than getting part-way through reviewing someone’s numbers and having to answer a question from a colleague which breaks your flow!

This Huffpost article (containing more useful tips) described productivity as about: “excelling at the tasks that generate the most value not doing the most tasks,”. With that in mind, what are you going to do differently so you can get more done? TL

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