Tip to increase your productivity!
Sometimes when encountering a problem, people use heuristics to help. Simply put, heuristics are rules to help solve problems, making life easier and goals more attainable, helping to increase your productivity. Breaking a problem down into manageable steps makes the entire process seem easier, and gives the user a clear sense of what to do next. Although the word itself is unfamiliar to some, most people will recognize a heuristic as a “rule of thumb”, “educated guess”, or sometimes even “common sense”.
Suppose you are walking around at a fair when you see a booth from afar that you would like to visit. There are no clear paths to this booth, only a maze of other booths in your way. An example of a heuristic for this problem would be: Walk toward the desired booth. When you reach another booth, follow around to the left until you can walk directly toward the desired booth again. Although this isn’t a complex heuristic, it gives a good example of one that will be successful.
Applying a heuristic does not always mean that you will find a solution to the problem, and sometimes although a solution is reached, it’s not the best solution. That being said, heuristics help because they force the user into a decision and a plan of action. Which is at the core when you are looking to increase your productivity. Once someone starts down the path to solve the problem, more times than not a new possible solution comes to mind.
Since all of us are looking for a way to make our lives more productive and efficient, heuristics can offer a great way to help. Simply use heuristics as behavior rules, and more will get done in a shorter amount of time. Use these tips to simplify your life, both personally and professionally:
- Delete, delete, delete – Take a hard look at your personal to do list. If something on there isn’t necessary, get rid of it.
- Set small goals – Instead of those lofty month-long goals, pare it down to daily goals set one to two days in advance. For the most productivity, try starting on a goal immediately after identifying it. Stop procrastinating and do it now.
- Get the worst done first, early – Instead of waiting or putting off the worst thing, do it first. That way it’s out-of-the-way, and you can move on to smaller tasks. Think of how you feel after you do something that you’ve dreaded; it is usually a great feeling. Use that high to complete the small tasks that are left on the list. Starting early in the morning can make you more productive as well.
- Pick the best times in the best places – Figure out when you are more productive, and then use those times to do the number one item(s) on your list. Make sure that if you have items that require concentration, you schedule those for times that you can tackle them uninterrupted. Make sure you turn your cell phone off and that the Internet isn’t available during those times.
- Set a target – Decide how many things you must accomplish or determine a stopping point before you start. Stick to that target no matter what.
- Time limits and deadlines – For a very large task, set a fixed time span in which you will work on it. This doesn’t mean you set a point in the work that you have to complete, but just work on it until the time is up. Also set deadlines in which the work absolutely must be completed. It is easier to stay focused with a clear deadline.
- Do like items at once – Organize your to do list into similar items and then do them all at once.
- Move faster – Deliberately do everything a bit faster. You’ll be done earlier.
- Stress free – Make sure you are working in a place that invokes calm, not stress. De-clutter your desk, personalize it with pictures, light a candle, whatever it takes to make your space yours.
- Agendas – Use an agenda to keep you at your best. For more information on agendas read The Power of Agendas.
- 80/20 Rule – Use 80% of your time on the menial tasks, and use the other 20% of your time for creative ideas. See Googles 80/20 ITO for more information.
- One minute decision – Take only one minute for each decision to be made; no more, no less. Once you decide, start immediately on a plan of action.
- Share – Tell other people what you are trying to do and the time limits you have set. It means more when you have to answer to other people.
- Be on time – Always be punctual; better yet, be early.
- Reading time – Use all of those “waiting” times as reading times. Some examples are: waiting for the bus, waiting in a doctor’s office, or even while working out. Most treadmills even have a spot to place a book or magazine where you can see it.
- Visualize it – Imagine what the completed goal looks like. Turn that completed image into real results.
- Reward yourself – When you complete a goal, give yourself a reward. Make the reward personal and meaningful for you to encourage you to reach for it.
- Prioritize – Just because something is important doesn’t always mean it is urgent, which usually results in a shuffle to the back burner. Set time aside for such things like dating, working out, or family building time.
- Daily flow – Always prepare for the next day. Get out materials so that you can start as soon as possible in the morning.
- Break it up – If you have a large task to complete, break it into more manageable tasks. Not only will you see it clearer, but you can then take one large task and still have small daily achievements.
- Don’t skip around – Once you start, don’t stop. Jumping from task to task only leads to unfinished business.
- Be random, sometimes – In between tasks, pick a small piece of a big project to complete.
- First drafts – You don’t have to complete a task perfectly the first time. Knowing that you don’t have to share it, make it as bad as you need to. Then you have somewhere to go – up!
- Don’t make it permanent, yet – Want to quit smoking or eat better? Tell yourself that you are just trying it out. That way if it doesn’t work, you haven’t failed, making it more likely that you will try it again later.
- Be the boss – Have others do things that you can trust them to complete to your liking.
- Diversify yourself – Do something that you normally wouldn’t do. You never know what might make you stronger in what you really love.
- Go with your gut – It’s usually right.
- Examine it – Take what you do most often and take a hard look at them. Sometimes you will see a better way to get it done.
Either at work or at home, any of these tips can increase your productivity and efficiency. Companies have put heuristics to good use for years; there is no reason why you should not start making them your own. Put any combination of these in play, applying specific ones to specific tasks, and you will see a marked improvement in productivity.