Organize & Plan Tasks
The conventional wisdom in digital work these days says that sometimes you just need to get started to get things moving, that you shouldn’t worry too much about how you get into your work, just get it rolling and things will come easier. This might be a great strategy to ward off procrastination, but it’s not the best system when it comes to getting a high volume of work done quickly.
If you want to be most productive, you need a set plan for how to approach your work and stick to it. Maybe you knock the easy stuff out first so you can focus on priorities later, or perhaps you stick to the important things first. Either way, have a plan and execute it each day.
Find Diminishing Returns
When it comes to repetitive tasks, you might find that it’s helpful to develop a system or method to speed up your work. However, there is usually a clear point when your system scales and saves you time, or has the opposite effect and simply slows you down. For example, it might be quicker to just type out manually the same sentence 10 times instead of developing a copy/paste shortcut, but if it’s 500 times, then copy/paste is going to save you a lot of work. There’s usually a point where shortcuts begin to scale and really pay off — find yours on your repeating tasks.
Get Out The Stopwatch
It’s a basic fact of performance measurement (especially in the sales and sports industries) that recording your performance will encourage and inform progress in whatever area you’re measuring. If you keep track of how long it takes to write a blog or finish a coding task, you’ll have more information (and incentive) to try to beat that time, or at least become more aware of what slows you down or speeds you up. Timing yourself throughout the day can be a great way to get started in improving your work times.
Blow The Calendar Up
Every year, you should do a total tear-down of your appointment calendar and rethink everything. Should you have a day just for communication and planning, and save the rest of your week for tasks? Should each day be planned the same to keep you on schedule? Or do you need more flexibility so you can approach your work more dynamically? The answers to these questions will be hidden in your calendar, and whether you use Google, iOS or an old-school paper planner — a yearly review of your past weeks can help enlighten where you can find opportunities for growth.
Even if you’re not exactly a full-stack developer, if you work on a computer all day, shortcuts (keyboard shortcuts) are going to dramatically increase how quickly you can work. It will feel a little weird at first if you’ve spent decades just pointing & clicking with a mouse or trackpad, but it won’t take long before you’re using keyboard shortcuts without even thinking about it, whether it’s for common copy/paste commands, simple Word Document tabs/shifts, or more complex commands.
Shortkeys are usually specific to the software or operating system you’re using, so be sure to search for your machine’s best versions, including the software you use online such as Google Docs. You might want to start by writing a few down while you’re learning.