Constantly running around trying to cross things off your never-ending to do list? You’re not the only one. Nowadays, people feel busier than ever, with the constant demands of being ‘on’ – whether that’s social media, work emails or Whatsapp – making it impossible to ever get it all done. But there are ways to tackle this, and to enhance your productivity – especially in the working week. We spoke with business coach Richard Harris for his expert advice on increasing your output, and he was emphatic about its importance in building a successful career.
‘From my perspective as a coach, it is meta-skills such as enhanced productivity that build careers,’ he explains. ‘Being able to be consistently productive over long periods of time is probably the single most important variable in determining career success.’
According to Mr Harris, enhanced productivity is also the one thing that will easily makes you stand out for the crowd. ‘Most people are satisfied by doing the bare minimum, and it’s easy to maintain this apathetic attitude when virtually everyone around us is doing it. Stand out and create a principle of over-delivering.’
However, he also preaches caution: enhanced productivity needs to come with a side of self care. ‘Avoid the temptation to spend all your time working. If you don’t take time to care for yourself and your emotional wellbeing, you will either not reach your potential or self-implode, which I have seen many times.’
Here are his top five productivity hacks to give your career a boost.
Exercise every day
‘Exercise is the simplest, quickest mood booster I know. When I have clients come to me with low moods, this is the first advice I give them. Exercise boosts confidence and general health, and if you do it consistently will help you achieve your long-term objectives.’
‘It’s important you have a healthy daily diet, including the right supplements. If you don’t have a proper diet, you will barely be able to concentrate, let alone be more productive. By eating right, your focus, constitution and willpower greatly improve. You will also take far fewer sick days.’
Plan your day
‘Write out your objectives for the day first thing in the morning. Then, measure your performance in terms of specific, measurable or quantifiable targets. By tracking your daily progress, you are continually faced with how you are doing, and therefore more ready to take action to deliver in a meaningful way. To supercharge this principle, share your spreadsheet with a friend or colleague, and tell them what your standards should be. The accountability element is important.’
Get up an hour earlier
‘The most productive hours of the day are in the morning while everyone else is still asleep. The most successful people on the planet tend to be early risers. Plus, there’s an unquantifiable boost to mood and morale when you’re ticking off your objectives before others have even woke up.’
But also guard your sleep
‘This is the most important tip. I recommend 9 hours. Never settle for less than 7. There remains a masochistic culture where getting by on little sleep is an ego-boosting merit badge. This is counter-productive. Optimum sleep improves all sorts of critical biomarkers such as hormones and inflammation levels, as well as enabling effective thinking and boosting your mood.’