Productivity – the art of getting things done – is the Holy Grail in business. Having worked in HR and recruiting for the past four years, I can tell you without a doubt it’s a key driver of hiring (and firing) decisions … and at or near the top of every company’s priority list for learning and development.
While competition demands more progress, more production and more results, being productive is not just about doing more. As a Millennial, I see it as finding ways to work smarter and breaking the age-old mantra that more is always better. Rather than run yourself into the ground clocking more hours or making a routine of burning the midnight oil, consider these five return-to-basics tips to up your productivity game.
Don’t Brush Off Work-Life Balance
In every office, there are always a few people whose lives consist of nothing but work. I’m all for a strong work ethic, but have you ever stopped to consider what working nonstop does to you? Life becomes dull and, as a result, so does everything else you do. To take your productivity to the next level, find happiness outside of the office. No matter how much or how little free time you have in your day, always set aside at least a few minutes to do something you genuinely love. This personal fulfillment will fuel you from within, giving you renewed energy to perform well professionally.
Look around. Those who are bold and promote what makes themselves different are usually the people who lead rather than follow. Being your authentic self at work helps you avoid over focusing on social acceptance, which only detracts and distracts you from working efficiently. That’s not to say you should abandon social interaction with colleagues. That can quickly damage a team or department. But being yourself will help you focus on what’s important and what you need to do. You will do your best when you do it in a way that truly reflects you.
Move. Walk. Stretch. Play. Being active can be as simple as going for a stroll two or three times a week, doing push-ups during the commercial breaks of your favorite show, walking your dog, playing with your kids or doing yard work outside. Any way you can get your body moving will not only help you improve your physical wellbeing, but also your mental health. Regular exercise can relieve stress, boost your mood and improve your memory – all of which can contribute to increased productivity at work.
Prioritize Your Z’s
Some people thrive on less than four hours of sleep and some need over eight hours to function. Regardless of how much shuteye you are actually getting at night, take the time to tune in to how much rest your mind and body are telling you that you need – then work to consciously prioritize your down time. It sounds counterintuitive, but making adjustments to your daily routine to spend more time hitting the hay can actually give you time back in your day. People who are well-rested generally have an easier time solving problems, being flexible and overcoming adversity, helping them to work more efficiently.
Fine-Tune Your Communication Skills
Communication can be broken in to three components: speech (what you say), tone (how you say it) and body language. Highly productive people are typically skilled in each of these areas. They effectively share information and continuously develop their approach to delivery. To increase productivity through communication, you need to practice, practice, practice. Focus on fine-tuning your communication skills by thoughtfully preparing your approach and talking points so you can put your best foot forward in exchanges with your co-workers, your boss, even your family and friends. Then reflect on those conversations and written communications to evaluate what you could have done better or differently … and apply those learnings moving forward.
Beyond the basics, different people respond to different strategies for changing or optimizing behavior. Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers: What advice do you follow when it comes to productivity?