Written by Kim Cordell | Product Development Administrator, European Medical Journal | @EMJ_Kim
Here in the EMJ offices, August would best be described by the team as a whirlwind, with not one, but six brand new publications ready for you to choose from. With that being said, the journey has been pretty smooth sailing, so if you’re lacking the drive needed to finish that one big task you have been putting off for weeks, grab yourself a cuppa and settle down. This month, I spoke with my colleagues in Product Development to ask them for their top tips for productivity and success. You never know, you might walk away from this blog with a whole host of new tips and tricks ready to implement in your daily life!
- Avoid Distractions. Okay, so this may seem like an obvious choice for increasing productivity, but nowadays, with society appearing to be glued to their smartphones and with social media and entertainment a mere tap of the screen away, when was the last time you truly avoided distraction from notifications, that latest meme that everyone is talking about, or news headlines? With the average person spending approximately 116 minutes on social media every day,1 equating to a total of 5 years and 4 months over a lifetime,1 think of all those tasks you could get done if you simply turned those notifications off, or went one step further and turned your phone off for the day? You may get ‘the fear’ initially about being uncontactable, but try it, just for a day, and let us know how it turns out; we are confident you will thank us for it in the long run.
- Write a list. Feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tasks you need to complete this week? Try breaking it down into a list of tasks to complete each day, and hey, you can even go so far as to reward yourself for getting each little thing you get done. I know that if I were to try and get through the week without writing down absolutely every single task, I am sure I would forget at least half of what I needed to do. Why? Because knowing you have got so much to do and knowing where to start is half the battle. As Markman remarks, “even if your agenda changes in practice as you work toward your objective, the process of thinking ahead about the steps involved can help prime you to do the work ahead.”2
- Learn to prioritise We all know that feeling when you look down at your to-do list and see that one task that really needs to get done, but it’s something you just do not want to do. Ray Moore suggests: “Ignoring the things you should be doing but don’t like to do is in fact the emergence of ‘productive avoidance’.”3 Whilst you can keep doing those simple or more interesting tasks to your heart’s content, these are probably providing low value to the end goal you are working towards, which is why, “learning to set priorities on their value (rather than whether you like them or not)” is so important to being productive.4 Our recommendation is to sit down and say you will do that task you have been avoiding all day for one minute. Why? Because the chances are, you are not going to back out of it once you have started, and actually the perception you have built up in your head about how bad it is going to be is, hopefully, going to be broken down as soon as you start working on it.
- Eat that frog. Coming from his well-known book, ‘Eat That Frog!’, author Brian Tracy suggests: “your ‘frog’ should be the most difficult item on your to-do list, the one that you are most likely to procrastinate, because, if you eat that first, then it will give you energy and momentum for the rest of the day.”5 If you start the day by eating the ugliest frog you’re faced with, you’ll find yourself overcoming the one task that is mentally blocking you from completing everything else!
- Work Backwards. If you have got a task you need to get done, rather than working towards a deadline, instead try working backwards from the deadline, breaking down your task so you know exactly what needs to be started and by when. If you are that person who looks at a deadline as being extremely far away, and then when it suddenly pops up in front of you, you get the fright of your life, this tip is for you.
If you wanted some words of wisdom from the team at EMJ, then you are welcome, and we are glad to be of assistance. Here is hoping you will take a look at how you can implement some of these pearls of wisdom into your daily routine, or even better, get in contact with us via the EMJ social media to let us know your tips and tricks for increasing productivity!
- Social Media Today. Evan Asano. How Much Time Do People Spend on Social Media? 2017. Available at: http://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/how-much-time-do-people-spend-social-media-infographic. Last accessed 16 August 2017.
- Fast Company. How Writing To-Do Lists Helps Your Brain (Whether Or Not You Finish Them). 2016. Available at: https://www.fastcompany.com/3063392/how-writing-to-do-lists-helps-your-brain-even-when-you-dont-comple. Last accessed: 16 August 2017.
- Moore R, The Levels: Can Your Business Step up to the Growth Challenge? 1st edition (2013), CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, pp.172.
- Moore R, The Levels: Can Your Business Step up to the Growth Challenge? 1st edition (2013), CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, pp.177.
- Tracy B, Simple Truths. Eat That Frog! (2016). Available at: https://www.simpletruths.com/inspirational-books/eat-that-frog.html. Last accessed: 16 August 2017.