5 Strategies Guaranteed to Make You More Productive
Have you ever spent an entire day toiling away, only to look up at five and realize you haven’t actually accomplished anything?
Sure, you checked some boxes, but nothing that really moved the needle.
That’s the thing about productivity — it’s more than just hard work.
Productivity requires intelligent planning, strategizing, and laser-focusing on the actions that are most likely to impact your business.
Below we’ll cover five key strategies — and 13 tools — you can use to outwork your competition … the right way.
1. Identify and track key priorities
Becoming highly productive starts with understanding and prioritizing your upcoming responsibilities.
Start by creating a list of all the tasks you need to accomplish. Then, bucket them according to their potential impact and urgency.
- High-impact, high-urgency tasks.
- High-impact, low-urgency tasks.
- Low-impact, high-urgency tasks.
- Low-impact, low-urgency tasks.
Your high-impact, high-urgency tasks will take priority, but the high-impact, low-urgency tasks are where you can really drive change. These tasks have the potential to transform your business because they’re impactful and provide you with enough time to approach them strategically.
You should take the low-impact tasks off your plate, if at all possible.
Consider delegating or outsourcing your low-impact, high-urgency tasks. Then, re-evaluate your low-impact, low-urgency tasks. In many cases, you can eliminate them altogether.
Now, all you have to do is track your progress as you move through each task to ensure you don’t overlook anything.
Productivity tools: Project management
The tools listed below can help you stay on track as you juggle competing priorities.
- Asana — Asana empowers you to map out your projects, monitor progress and track deadlines.
- Todoist — Todoist allows you to plan, track and check off key tasks as you go about your day and week.
- Evernote — Evernote helps you stay on top of tasks and deadlines, while also capturing ideas and notes in real time.
- Trello — Trello is a popular tool among organizations that practice agile methodology. It allows teams to collaborate, prioritize, track progress and document results.
2. Schedule downtime
Downtime is critical to remaining productive. In fact, a study from Stanford University revealed working more than 50 hours per week drastically reduces productivity.
And the more hours you work, the worse it gets. People who work 70 hours per week accomplish roughly as much as those who work 55 hours per week.
But keeping your nights and weekends free isn’t the only way to reap the rewards of downtime.
Frequent, short breaks can also help you focus your attention. That’s why the Pomodoro Technique has become so popular.
The Pomodoro Technique calls for 25 minutes of focused work, followed by a five-minute break. After every fourth cycle, you take a longer break — around 15 to 30 minutes.
This technique helps to eliminate distractions, increase focus and boost motivation.
Productivity tools: Relaxation
The tools listed below will help ensure you’re prioritizing downtime — and making the most of it.
- ClearFocus — ClearFocus is a time-management app designed to help you follow the Pomodoro Technique by timing your working sessions and breaks.
- Calm — Calm is a meditation and sleep app that can help you make sure your downtime is as rejuvenating as possible.
- Stand Up — Stand Up is a work-break timer that reminds you to get out of your chair at regular intervals. Not only will this increase your downtime, but it will also remind you not to sit for hours on end — a habit that leads to a number of health complications.
- StretchClock Break Reminder — Similar to Stand Up, this app reminds you to get up and move. It even guides you through stretching and exercise routines to boost your energy.
3. Eliminate distractions
We’ve never lived in a more distracting time than we do right now.
Almost everyone keeps a smartphone on them at all times, and between texts, calls, social media platforms, and more, these devices have a nasty habit of dominating our attention.
And it’s most likely impacting your firm’s bottom line. In fact, in 2017, NBC reported Facebook alone has cost users nearly “$3.5 trillion in squandered productivity.”
In many cases, simply making it more difficult to engage with these platforms can eliminate the distraction and help you regain your focus.
Try turning off your phone and putting it in a drawer so it’s out of sight. Then, log out of all your social media channels on your work computer.
At first, you’ll likely notice you’re still reaching for your phone in your pocket or opening a new tab to check out the latest updates from your friends, but those habits will quickly fade.
Productivity tools: Focus
There are several tools available to help you eliminate distractions and focus on important tasks. Here are two of our favorites:
- Freedom — Freedom allows you to block distracting apps on your iPhone or iPad. This is perfect for those who use their mobile devices to get work done but want to eliminate distraction from apps and updates.
- Feedless — Feedless is a newsfeed blocker that prevents platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter from interrupting you with endless updates.
4. Limit email
Like the distractions listed in the previous section, email can pull your attention away from important tasks. But we felt like it deserved its own section for one key reason: Email is a critical part of successfully running a commercial real estate (CRE) brokerage firm.
Still, if you spend every 10 minutes refreshing your inbox and replying to messages, you’ll never get anything done.
So, how do you balance email’s power to drive your business forward with its tendency to distract?
We recommend setting aside designated times to read and send emails.
For one week, try blocking an hour or so each day and dedicating that time to email. Then, try blocking a few minutes every couple of hours the following week and determine which method works best for you.
Productivity tools: Email
Here are a couple of tools that can help you use email responsibly, so you can stay connected, without sacrificing productivity.
- Inbox Pause — Inbox Pause allows you to stop email notifications during certain hours so you can focus on your work without distraction.
- Inbox When Ready — Inbox When Ready allows you to hide your inbox while you focus on other email-related activities. Search for specific emails, craft responses, and more, without getting distracted by your most recent inbox updates.
5. Stay organized
Staying organized is incredibly difficult when you work in CRE. You probably have key information stored across multiple spreadsheets, as well as in your inbox, data platforms, and more.
And many times, you have to piece together all this information on the fly while speaking with a client or prospect.
Not exactly a recipe for success.
Of course, organizing all of this data and information isn’t easy. If you try to combine seven spreadsheets into one, you’ll likely just end up with eight spreadsheets you need to manage.
That’s where a key tool can come in handy.
Productivity tools: Client relationship management (CRM) software
Okay, okay. We admit it — we might be just a teensy bit biased here. (We do sell a CRM, after all.)
But we don’t believe a CRM can help your firm because we sell one. We sell one because we believe it can help your firm.
Rethink’s CRM was designed to help CRE brokers organize and understand their data so they can be more productive and win more deals.
Find out if it’s right for your firm.