If you want to improve your productivity in order to spend less time but work better then here are some recommendations for you.
1. Choose the Time-Management System
It is impossible to work without breaks. Our brain just is not made this way. Choose a suitable system which will be comfortable for you. You can take an "academic hour": 45 minutes of constant work as at school or university. It is also worth to try the Pomodoro method. According to it, after every 25 minutes of work you should take 5 minutes of rest. The most important is to organize your work in time.
2. Create Conditions
Someone does not like to write letters, someone does not like to fill in tax declarations and it is hard for some people to write original essays. What is the problem? If you look inside of yourself you will understand that there are no perfect conditions to solve any task or do certain work. To fill in the tax declaration you should find the required documents and an example of filling it in. At the same time, you cannot even find any pen. How can we speak about productivity after that?
3. Use the Breaks
While waiting for a meeting or on our way somewhere we get a lot of free time, which is better to spend usefully. What can you do? You may read or listen to audiobooks, rest (you can meditate to restore your reserves of energy), learn new languages, rethink plans, make important phone calls. There are always a lot of things to do. The essential part is not to waste your opportunities.
4. Set Clear Goals and Tasks
In order to get somewhere (and do it correctly from the first try, which is important), you should know where you are going. Otherwise, it will be just wandering in the dark with all the harmful consequences. It would be perfect if your plans and goals were qualitatively and quantitatively measurable. If it is impossible in some situations, then try to describe the task as precisely as you can. Do not name the task "to sell more", but name it "to call 10 potential clients".
5. Find Your Creative Space
If you need to think of an awesome idea but your muse was lost on the halfway, you can change the situation. Instead of thinking in a usual atmosphere, find another suitable place. It can be crowded with people or quite the opposite, quiet. Let it be a park, the nearest cafe or your secluded spot on the bench near the office. A change in the situation will give you a possibility to have rest and to get an outstanding idea or the solving of the problem. It will be better if you do not to take your phone with you.
6. Be a Realist
If you do not manage to complete your tasks from the to-do list every day and it continues for a long time (several months or even years), then face the truth: you are taking more then you are able to carry. How is it related to productivity? Firstly, after you become aware that you are not a bad worker and it is just too much work you agreed to cope with, then you will stop to nag at yourself. Secondly, while sorting out your tasks you will keep only those which are really important and can give you appreciable result.
One more piece of advice: if you cannot make it today, then stop thinking about it. Act like Scarlett O’Hara: think about it tomorrow.
7. Plan Your Next Step
Actually, the question "What is the next action" should be the part of global thinking process. Every meeting, discussion or communication should end with clear determination whether there are any next actions needed. In case there are, then each of them should be clearly formulated and there should be defined people who will be responsible for them.
Accustom yourself to foresee your actions one step before. It helps a lot. Just ask yourself a question: “What I should do if it happens? How should I act if it does not happen?”
8. Keep Post-It Notes Near You
Let your table always have a set of post-it notes or a writing pad on it. This is how you will secure yourself a field for fixing any thoughts which can come to your mind during work. For example, if you are working on the balance sheet and suddenly remember that you have to make an important call later, just write it down on the sheet of paper. You will check your notes later.
By letting your notes carry your thoughts instead of you, you are saving significant mental reserves free for current activity.
9. Reject Multitasking
The myth that our brain can simultaneously control several tasks with the same quality was destroyed long time ago. Do not do several tasks at the same moment and do not jump from one task to another. Be immersed in your work and concentrate yourself on it.
10. Have Enough Sleep
If you have a lack of sleeping you will not be able to keep the required level of concentration in order to remember something and work effectively. If you are absent-minded and you cannot do the simplest thing, it is time to count how many hours you sleep. In order to use the maximum of your skills, be calm and attentive, do not ignore the night sleep. With every sunrise everything starts over again.
11. Do Not Become a Slave of Emails, Social Networks and Chats
Communication with others distracts more than we think. Keep to the rules of working with email, enter social networks three times per day (in the morning, during lunch and in the evening) and minimize the time you spend on talking with colleagues about weather or some gossips. Take as a rule for talks to spend more time for important and serious talks and less time for unimportant ones.
12. Add Your Goals to The Schedule
As soon as you allocate the part of your daily schedule for working on your goals, you will not assign something else for that time. If you have already added your work to your to-do list, then you should also add it to your daily plans. The thing is, if this task is not in your schedule and is just an abstract dream buzzing in your head or "a good idea" in the list of others, you will not find time for it. It will be just an idea and will barely ever turn into a goal.
Add to your schedule (even to that one in the office, opened for the colleagues to see) reading books on self-development, trainings and important work on certain unnecessary but useful project which you wanted to finish for so long. Having them written down, you will unconsciously start working on all of them.