5 tips to help you be more productive this year

Strategies for working faster and smarter despite distractions


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Although technological advancements have made it easier to work around the clock, it also means that the average person has to deal with more distractions and a much more complex work process, says Ron Friedman, an American author, social psychologist and founder of consulting firm ignite80

"Our assignments have grown more collaborative, requiring more coordination, conference calls, and meetings. We now face an endless barrage of distractions, from the vibrations and alerts on our smartphones to the breaking news stories and viral videos awaiting us at our desks," he says in an article for the Harvard Business Review

"Now, more than ever, we need strategies for being productive," says Friedman. 

To answer the productivity question, Friedman shares productivity strategies from bestselling science and productivity writers. 

Here are 5 of our favourite strategies that they shared with Friedman. 

1. Own your time - The most satisfying work comes about when we are "working on projects that we ourselves initiate," says Friedman. Tom Rath, author of Are You Fully Charged? agrees with this sentiment recommending that people first complete one important task before tackling smaller ones such as reading emails. 

2. Take frequent breaks - Forget the myth of the "ideal worker", says Friedman. The ideal worker is someone "who works constantly, often at great expense to their personal life." There is overwhelming evidence that this is not as productive as previously thought, says Friedman. 

"As humans, we have a limited capacity for focused attention."

According to Brigid Schulte, journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller Overwhelmed, there are benefits to recognising your physical limitations and taking "short restorative breaks".

3. Learn to say no -  Author and consultant Rory Vaden, shares with Friedman his advice to have a strategy in place for saying no in advance - this way you will have a quick response to request easily on hand. 

"Create an email template, or write out a script that you can use when doing it in person," says Friedman. 

4. Make important behaviours measurable - To see any sort of progress for any of your goals it's important to track your progress, says Friedman, who references author Gretchen Rubin, an expert on happiness and habits, who says monitoring is one of the "keys to behavior changes".  

"If you want to eat more healthily, keep a food journal. If you want to get more exercise, use a step counter. If you want to stick to a budget, track your spending," says Rubin. 

5. Find ways to make more time for yourself - This process often means completing task you may not enjoy, says Friedman, but that buy you more time in the long run. This includes automating or delegating activities. Author and consultant Rory Vaden suggests everyone ask themselves, "How can I use my time today in ways that create more time tomorrow?" 

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