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Productivity is one of those things that is constantly being sought after but that's difficult to achieve. This is even more evident in millennials, who will be the largest generation ever to enter the workforce, accounting for 80 million new employees in the U.S. alone. We are also the first digital native generation, growing up with technology instead of adapting to it like previous generations.
A survey conducted by Levo and Microsoft Office titled "Mastering Your Productivity in 2017" highlighted the fact that productivity is important to us. Up to 93% of the participants said that productivity was very important or moderately important to their happiness. At the same time, participants that were younger than 30 reported that they felt less productive than their 30 or older counterparts. So what are some of the main reasons for this lack of productivity in millennials?
Distractions like social media or online accessibility is a huge detriment to productivity. Time management is also a huge time killer that can have an adverse effect on your productivity. Of course, every case is different, and only you can know why your productivity is down in the gutters, but it doesn't have to be that way. Here are several tips to make you a productivity whiz.
Emails are one of the biggest productivity killers in the workforce. They can end up being a distraction when you have actual tasks that are more important. The most common scenario where this happens is when people copy multiple coworkers onto emails to try to get it off their plate, but in reality, this is really just laziness at its finest. The additional contacts might not actually need to be included in these emails, which in turn creates additional noise against the important tasks they need to complete.
Make sure you keep your inbox clutter-free by filtering and flagging the most important conversations that you have to tackle immediately, while pushing other emails to a lower priority list. This will help you get going on tasks that you can take action on and keep you on a productive path. Also, a good rule of thumb is to BCC everyone on your reply when you get an email task. If the email chain gets longer than three replies, maybe it's time to give them a call or walk over and physically chat with them – you’ll often get more done, quicker by having conversations. (Note: every office's culture is different though, so make sure you see how others are doing it).
Being productive doesn't mean that you have to stack all of your tasks into your entire work-day. ‘Less-is-more’ is often the best approach when trying to achieve productivity. Focus on the tasks that matter and that will get you further ahead, and stick to it. Often, people will realize that finishing the most important tasks will generate the most valuable return. These important tasks can also lead to you completing the smaller, less-important tasks that you had set out for yourself. Two birds, one stone!
Don't start adding 30 things into your to-do list. Yes, crossing off things on your to-do list is great for short-term satisfaction and will make you feel like you're being productive, but if these tasks don't contribute to a larger picture, you're not really getting anything done. Take a breather, look at your list, and cull the most insignificant tasks you can find. Leave the ones that will incite change or have an impact on your company, and do them!
Don't fall into the productivity trap of multi-tasking. Doing more things at once does NOT mean you're being more productive. When you multi-task, you spread your focus on several tasks, but that doesn't mean you're putting 100% of your focus on each one. You're splitting your mind's ability to process information onto several tasks, meaning that each task won't be completed to the best of your abilities.
Focus on one task and stick to it. Put your effort into each one and you'll be blowing by tasks much more easily than when you tried to multi-task. Studies have shown that changing tasks more than 10 times a day can drop your IQ by an average of 10 points (yikes!), so try not to put on too many hats all at once.
Hit your difficult tasks while your mind is still fresh in the morning. The goal is to complete the more difficult tasks before lunch because your mind is wide awake and ready for action. If you have any busy work, repetitive tasks, or even meetings, save them for the afternoon. By focusing your day on getting important things completed in the morning, you can increase your productivity and still get everything done in a time-friendly manner.
Phones are real distractions that take up much more time than just checking a WhatsApp message or Facebook post. Some studies show that it can take a whole 25 minutes to refocus your attention after an interruption. A top tip is to give a task an hour of your undivided attention by putting your phone on mute or do-not-disturb (the best mode is where only multiple calls from a number can get through, just in case of emergencies), or even better, stick it away in your drawer!