January 05, 2016

16 Ways to Be Productive in 2016


2015 flew by and it's crazy to think that 2016 has started. Since most of us probably felt how fast 2015 flew by, we cannot waste time in 2016, especially at the beginning.

Resolutions and setting goals are important, but staying productive is at the top of most of our minds in order to achieve these resolutions and goals successfully. It's clear that productivity and to "be productive" is a trending topic right now, so how do we all maintain this stride for the rest of 2016?

There are many lists for ways to be more productive and we've found many to be helpful. However, here's our list of the top 16 ways to stay productive throughout all of 2016.

Check Out These 16 Tips to Be Productive in 2016:

1. Energy Mapping

When do you feel like you have the most energy? During the day, when do you feel most productive?

For a week, log your days, the amount of work you completed, and the timeframe you completed it in. You'll be able to see at the end of the week the times you feel most productive and energized. Then schedule that time where you feel most energized for whitespace or to get stuff done.

2. Deadlines

We've all had deadlines at some point for a various project, but have you tried setting those deadlines for yourself? Giving yourself a time constraint can ensure that you finish that task at the right time and give you the productive boost you need to push ahead to the end.

Dan Ariely and his colleagues lead a study involving college students and found that students who held themselves to strict deadlines performed far better than those who didn't. Try giving yourself a deadline that will help with your overall progress and productivity levels.

3. Inbox Maintenance

We touted the wondrous, organized ways of inbox zero and this idea can take you far in remaining productive. Yet, it's completely up to you on how you organize your inbox, but you must have some type of system. Whether it's using filters, folders, different inboxes, or snoozing/archiving messages, find a technique and see it through. Having some sort of maintenance system will help you stay on top of messages.

4. Task List the Night Before

Remember when your parents instructed you to pick out your outfits the night before? Or to get your bag ready for the next day? Writing and thinking about your task list the night before work the next day. You'll be able to start the day with focus knowing exactly what you need to accomplish for the day.

5. Toolbox

In 2015, we covered a comprehensive list on the 133 relationship tools you need to better your network, but in that list we weren't saying you need to use all 133 of those tools. Instead, you need to the right tools for your toolbox. Use this list as a starting point if you don't have your toolkit well-defined in order to stay as productive as possible with the right tools.

6. Automation

I'm not sure what marketing would be like without automation and I can't imagine sending every email manually. Automation isn't just limited to marketing though; in fact, you can automate many things in your day-to-day tasks. You can automate your emails to go out at a certain time and automate reminders to notify you of important to-dos. Use automation to your advantage to ensure nothing slips through the cracks and you'll have more time to focus on other priorities.

7. Don't Switch Between Tasks

via HBR

Multitasking gets a bad rep. Some people tout that they are great multitaskers and then there have been some scientific studies that have said majority of individuals cannot actually multitask. Yet, most recently there has been a study that identifies the real problem: switching between tasks.

More importantly, "that switching process is mentally taxing -- your brain has to recall the instructions for how to do one task, then put them aside and recall the instructions for how to do the other, then repeat the whole thing again -- and so the result is poor performance on both."

Stick to doing that one task all the way through to completion and you'll be able to complete more things than spreading out your focus.

8. Turn Off Other Devices

Imagine your phone ringing, then your computer buzzing, along with maybe the smart watch you have that vibrates on your wrist or your tablet that's also dinging all at the same time. Now, think about all of the focus you just lost worrying about these devices notifying you at once. Even if one is on and the other goes off you will lessen the attention span you have on the task at hand. And most of your productivity is lost.

When you're trying to maintain a steady flow of productivity, we highly advise putting the other devices away and turning them off. Keeping your attention on one device will increase how productive you are to that task at hand.

9. Referrals

Getting more referrals does require some lifting at the front end, but once you get a process down in generating referrals it'll grow to be faster and will increase your productivity. Think of if this way, if you make a fantastic impression on one person and you maintain that relationship -- do you think the probability that they refer someone else to you will go up? Yes, and they in fact do some of your marketing for you. Think about the time and money you'll save.

10. Meditate

If you could characterize mediation and productivity, they would be best friends.

Meditators have long sung the praises in the benefits of the practice. Meditation clears the mind, improve energy levels, slows down aging, improve your planning capacity, relieves stress, increase the blood circulation in your brain, and enhances your creativity. With the help of meditation, your brain is able to focus on what's ahead and to accomplish what you need. Take a look below what your brain looks like after meditating and processing information.


11. Contact Segmentation

Did you know that the average professional has about 2,500 contacts in their email? And it now probably seems overwhelming to you on how to engage with these contacts individually in a personalized way.

Segmenting your contacts is extremely valuable for network maintenance, communications, and to remain productive. How should you segment your contacts then? Try looking at the contact's importance to you and your business. Are they someone who could provide referrals? Would you consider them to be an influencer?

Take a look at this chart that we've come up with that buckets your contacts into players, champions, legends, and stars. Try using these segmentations on your own and look at the amount of time you should spend with each.

12. Music

I've found for myself that I work better with some background noise. When it's completely quiet, I find that my mind wanders, so usually when I'm working I have music running. Now, this doesn't work for everyone and I'm sure there is a percentage of people who need complete silence.

However, listening to different types of music can increase productivity. Helpscout suggested that music lacking lyrics often helps more particularly classical music (Baroque). One study they included found that Baroque-period tunes have a measurable impact on productivity.

This is completely up to your preference, but listening to something familiar, classical, or having some kind of background noise can improve your productivity.

13. Reminders

If I don't write it down, do a task in that moment, or put it in my task list manager, I will more than likely forget to do that task. Setting up some type of reminder system will help you to stay on track in your productivity course. Use an automated system that alerts you everyday or use an online task list like Wunderlist that connects with all of your devices. Unless you have the memory like an elephant, use reminders to your advantage to not forget the important things.

14. Organization System

With an average of over 2,500 contacts, hundreds of emails, and a laundry list of other things, not staying organized can throw your productivity into a destructive tornado. Come up with an organization system that works for you. It doesn't mean that you have to color coordinate everything or you have to purge every item off of your desktop, it's totally up to you. Organization though is a very important habit to stay productive.

15. Habit Building

The habit loop that Charles Duhigg describes in his book The Power of Habit has great implications on your productivity. This loop is broken down into three actions: Cues, Routines, and Rewards. It starts with a cue that trigger the routines and the habit is solidified with a reward at the end. Think about if you are able to establish a good habit, you'll be able to soar into positive progress with the right habit loop.

16. SMART Goals

SMART goals are most commonly defined as specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. We know the benefits in writing down and setting goals, so take the effort to make great goals that you can accomplish. Creating these types of goals pave a path for achievement and of course, help with your overall productivity.

Into your most productive year

2016 is just starting and there is still enough time to kick it off to a great start. Take some of these productivity tips and put them into action. If you have some goals that you want to achieve for your business, the best way to do it is in a productive fashion. Make this year an #EPIC2016.