In 2018, I came across a picture that went viral online for the quote, “you have the same number of hours a day as Beyoncé.” I doubt that anyone has become more productive or has reached the pinnacle of success because of these words, but they have made me wonder: Do high-performing people approach their days and work differently than most people? How do people become so efficient and productive?
To explore the question, I set out to follow a series of podcasts with authors, musicians, entrepreneurs, and business leaders. We followed questions about routines, habits, practices, and work hacks to understand what super productive people do differently compared to other people.
Here are four tips that I gathered:
1. Batch your meetings
If you’re a productivity enthusiast at work or in your personal life, you’ve probably heard of the activity known as “batching.” Batching is the act of grouping tasks together to make them more time efficient. Applying it to email verification has become a common productivity tip. The idea is to plan a maximum of 3 time intervals throughout the day to go through your inbox completely, freeing up time to focus on work without distractions.
By applying the same method of batching, meetings, calls, or virtual events can also become equally effective.
Research from the University of Ohio has shown that when we have a meeting set in the next hour or two, we will be 22% less productive compared to when we don’t have future meetings. Basically, before a Zoom call with a colleague, a team meeting, or a 1 on 1 with a manager, our productivity declines because we use most of our resources thinking about what we will say and the questions we will have about the topics discussed.
By grouping your meetings into one interval of the day, you’ll make sure you don’t have a major disruption around the corner, and you’ll be able to increase your productivity levels.
2. Avoid using the mouse
It may sound a little strange, but a study by Brainscape found that most people lose an average of 2 seconds per minute of work using the mouse instead of keyboard shortcuts. That means no more, no less than 8 days a year! Learning keyboard shortcuts can bring major benefits to our productivity. Fortunately, most software programs share the same shortcuts, which means that the more you learn, the faster you’ll become!
3. Take small steps towards a better behaviour
If you’re trying to establish healthier working habits, Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress and Automattic, argues that small behavioural changes can lead to the biggest gains: “If what’s closest to my bed when I wake up is Kindle and not my phone, I’m more likely to read.”
In other words, consider the habits you want to change and think about how you can change your environment to influence these behaviours. For example, you’ve probably heard that turning off your phone or putting it in airplane mode can help you stay more focused on your work. In the same way, making small changes around you can inspire you to do actions that you have avoided or that you don’t naturally do.
If you want to read more, put a stack of books in each room. If you want to check social media less often, place the apps in a folder on your phone so that it takes more time to open them. If you want to avoid checking your emails all day, block your notifications or set a certain interval for them so you won’t be distracted by each new notification. You get the idea :).
What do you do differently to be more productive?
Sources: Harvard Business Review, 2020