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10 Commandments of Productivity

Making the most out of our time is important.  We all want to be more productive with our day, so how do you do it? In that spirit, I wanted to dedicate today to offering up some great tips on how to increase productivity. Here are some great pointers I picked up from the blog, The 99%.

1. Break the seal of hesitation
When starting a new project, it’s very easy to lose yourself in planning (and dreaming) indefinitely.  To help push yourself out of 1st gear, you must challenge yourself to take action sooner rather than later. The minute you start acting, you start getting valuable feedback that helps you refine your original idea and pushes you forward with a more informed perspective.

2. Start small
A common problem when starting out is to think too big. The downside to this thinking is that it makes the barrier to entry (and action) quite high. To avoid “blue sky” thinking, pare your idea down into small immediately executable tasks. Once you’ve tested your idea on a small scale, you’ll have tons more insight on how to take it to the next level.

3. Prototype, prototype, prototype
Trial and error is an important part of the learning process. Rather than being discouraged by your “failures”, listen closely and learn from them. Then, build a new prototype and try it again. Sooner or later you’ll hit pay dirt.

4. Create simple objects for projects, and revisit them regularly
Ever been working on an in-depth project and come up with loads of great new ideas along the way? This can lead to a gradual expansion of the project’s goals. If gone unchecked, this habit can make it impossible to ever complete anything. The best way to avoid it is to write down a simple statement summarizing your objectives at the start of each project and then revisit it regularly. This way when project scope creep hits, you’ll notice.

5. Work on your project a little bit each day
The important thing here isn’t how much or how long you work, but consistency. Just like exercise, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

6. Develop a routine
This goes hand in hand with being able to work on your project a little bit each day. Developing a routine can see boring and uninspiring, but they create a foundation for sparking true insight.

7. Break big, long-term projects into smaller chucks or “phases”
This is a great tip to help manage expectations of longer projects. Break each project into smaller chunks that only take a few weeks to complete. The benefit of this approach is: (1) making the project feel more manageable and (2) providing incremental rewards throughout the project.

8. Prune away superfluous meeting (and their attendees)
Few activities are more of a productivity drain long meetings. If you must meet, make sure everyone knows what needs to be accomplished from the outset. Try to trim the runtime of internal meetings. For more help with this see our post: Avoiding the Time Suck Hole.

9. Practice saying “No”
Creative energy is not infinite. Seasoned idea-makers know that they must guard their energy and focus closely. When you’re in execution mode, keep in mind that “unexpected opportunities” also mean distractions from the work at hand. Saying “no” is an important part of the productivity equation.

10. Remember that rules – even productivity rules – are Made to be broken
Somewhat self-explanatory, but it goes without saying that these suggestions should only be followed if they are working. Breaking habits offers new perspective and helps recharge us. It’s always a good idea to mix it up from time to time.

Do you have any good rules of thumb that you’ve found particularly useful to help stay productive?