Living your life on an endless to-do list? Not feeling like you are ever really getting on top of things? Moving slower than you’d like towards your big plans and goals? Welcome to the club! The club of ambitious women who are looking for support to improve their own productivity, get more out of the day and move towards their own personal and professional goals faster.
Improving productivity is one of the areas that we focus on while helping women who are part of the One Up One Down mentorship program, so we want to share our experience and provide you with some useful tips that will help you utilize your full capacity.
Here is our list of Top 3 productivity hacks, especially designed for women:
1. Relentlessly prioritising the most important tasks
An interesting study conducted by Dr. Katharine O’Brien examined whether differences exist in men’s and women’s willingness to say ‘no’ at work. The study found that females found it more difficult to say ‘no’ to work requests than males. However, when they considered the requests more thoughtfully all individuals in the study made choices that were more strategic to their long-term success.
The study suggests that it may be more difficult for women to refuse tasks that are not aligned with their highest priorities. To become more productive, instead of trying to do everything and please everyone, it’s important to focus on figuring out the tasks that matter the most. This requires a good understanding of the requirements of your role and the overall goals of your company or department. Once you know those, don’t be afraid to push back or say ‘no’ to requests or assignments that are not aligned with your highest priorities.
Our advice: One technique to help you when you are not sure how to say ‘no’ is to avoid responding to the request immediately. The next time someone wants you to take up a new task, try telling them “I’ll think about that and get back to you.”
2. Set yourself up for a productive day
Have you wondered why many high achievers are so particular about their morning routine? How you begin your day will set the foundation for how you experience the rest of it. This is why it is very important to start the day with the right mindset.
According to a study by researchers at Tel Aviv University, predictable, repetitive routines are calming and help reduce anxiety. Activities such as meditation, physical exercise, journaling, positive affirmation, or other self-care and self-reflection exercises can help you get into a state of mind that will stimulate you to get the most out of your 24 hours. Building these activities into a routine will not only help you get control of your day but will also remove the energy cost that comes with having to make constant decisions.
Our advice: Try using a journal or a habit-building app and note down a few activities that you want to take part in your morning routine. Following a list of goals that you have set for yourself will help you focus and start working on creating your own ritual for achieving a productive day. You can learn more about journaling and habit building in our blog ‘Building the Habit of Journaling’.
3. Learn to time block your calendar
What does your calendar look like? It probably has your regular meetings and planned holidays. And then your colleagues begin to add those one-off calls, assuming that you are free, just because you don’t have any other “busy” blocks. In reality, you have many more tasks that you need to finish ASAP, so those “quick work calls” actually distract you from the assignment at hand and lower your productivity.
That is why it is good practice to use time blocking for your big tasks. When a new assignment comes in, plan ahead and put scheduled times in your calendar throughout the week when you will focus solely on the task at hand. This will not only show your coworkers that they should not disturb you during this time period but will also help you stay concentrated and organized.
Our advice: Don’t avoid blocking your calendar just because you feel that your boss will look down on it. If you are worried, try having a chat with them and explain how it makes you more efficient and more productive in your work.
So, whether you are on top of your productivity game, or you are struggling to concentrate on reading this article, our Top 3 productivity tips will definitely help you get the most out of your working hours. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for more interesting tips and tricks written for ambitious women in business and technology and don’t forget to connect with us, if you want to know more about the OneUpOneDown program.