7 Tips to Maximize Productivity

We all share a mutual enemy — the 24-hour clock.

Considering we each have exactly the same amount of time per day, why do some people generate unimaginable productivity and results while others fall so woefully short? Embrace these best practices, and you’ll get more done in record time:

Plan ahead. Rather than racing through life in reaction mode, get a grasp on your calendar by planning ahead. Take 15 minutes each Sunday night to review the upcoming week. Craft your schedule in a way that works best for you. Plan how to make the upcoming week most efficient. In addition to your Sunday ritual, take five minutes each evening to review the day ahead. The few minutes you spend looking forward will drive productivity and reduce anxiety.

Conquer the hardest stuff first. Too often, we procrastinate and let the most challenging projects hang over our head. This creates stress and hurts your ability to focus on current tasks. If you tackle the big things first, you’ll be energized and that momentum will drive results throughout your day.

Reduce touch points. As the world comes at you (e-mail, voice mail, memos, etc.), try to avoid the back-and-forth syndrome. Don’t waste your time reading the same e-mail six times before tackling it. The fewer times you touch an item, the more productive you’ll become.

Say no more often. Saying no to the less important things better equips you to conquer the ones that matter most. Protect your schedule ferociously because your time is your most important and scarce resource.

Work in 90-minute sprints. No one can work in full concentration for 10 hours straight. Our bodies are built for intense periods of performance followed by rest and recovery — 90 minutes of total focus followed by 10-minute stretch breaks yields far better results than trying to run flat-out all day.

Eliminate multitasking. Trying to do two (or seven) things at once reduces focus and robs each task of your full attention. Instead, try ‘single tasking’ to remain fully-engaged in each effort to deliver your best work.

Protect against distractions. Each inbound text, Facebook alert, or random pop-in from a colleague breaks your concentration and reduces productivity. Carve our distraction-free time to focus without interruption, and then check the sports scores during regular breaks.

You can take control of your own schedule or let your calendar run you. The next time you meet a highly accomplished person and you ask yourself, “How can they possibly get all that done,” you can be sure they’re embracing most of the strategies listed here. Incorporate these tips, and you’ll soon be joining an elite squad of the world’s most productive.