Ten Powerful Tips to Improve Productivity

  • 25 November, 2019
  • Sharon Piening

Whether you are a business owner or employee, the need to do what we can to improve our personal productivity has never been greater!

The demands on our time are increasing and it seems there always more to do than the time we have available!

Added to this:

  • Customer expectations are increasing
  • The need to deliver or respond has sped up enormously
  • Choice and complexity have exploded
  • Technology means live in a 24/7 world!

Against this background it is easy to feel overwhelmed and never able to switch off!

However, there are some things you can do to get back in control:

Personal Productivity Tip 1 - Accept Reality!

Much of the stress and overwhelm we experience is our resistance to what is; reality!

We can’t change reality – but we can change our mindset and our response to the daily events in our life.

We do have a choice around mindset!

This is not about “positive thinking” or delusional rose-coloured glasses!  Rather it is about choosing the way we react to events that occur in our daily life.

If we can remain more centred and not buying into our panic thinking:

  • We will be more productive
  • Have greater insights
  • Get more done!

Personal Productivity Tip 2 - Time Cannot Be Managed!

If you want to improve your productivity, it is important to recognise:

  • More time cannot be created
  • Time cannot be managed
  • How you allocate your time, is largely a choice

There are a limited number of  hours in each day. It is impossible to create more!

Therefore, you can either:

  • Fall prey to the illusion that you can somehow “manage” time or,
  • Choose how you will use the time that you have available

Clearly, we need to respond to situations that arise, customers and others with whom we interact. However, throughout any given day or week we have many opportunities to improve the allocation of our time!

Personal Productivity Tip 3 - Know Where Your Time Goes!

If you want to improve your personal productivity, it is important to know how we are actually using your time.

Whilst we all have a sense of this, the truth is our “sense” can be wildly inaccurate!

(Research has shown Human Beings’ sense of time beyond a few minutes, is very poor!

To get back in control, you need to record how you use time over a period of a few weeks. This will provide you with valuable data, based on reality, not assumptions or guess work!

Fortunately, there are great Apps now available to make recording of how you use your time easy.

A very good App we like is A Tracker, which is available for both Apple and Android devices.

Personal Productivity Tip 4 - Focus on High Payoff Activities!

In business or role there are key activities that drive most of our results.  These are your High Payoff Activities and should be given priority!

They go into your calendar first! You make them a priority.

If you don’t have clarity around your High Payoff Activities, it is so easy to spend all your time focusing on “stuff” that just doesn’t matter!

High Payoff Activities give you focus!

Personal Productivity Tip 5 - Realistic Goals!

One of the benefits of tracking your time, is that you will realise how much time you truly have available to work in your business and/or perform your role.

Time spent at business, or work, does not necessarily translate to actual available time.

Setting goals that ignore available time are unrealistic and generate a lot of stress!

Tip – When you set goals, make sure they matter to you personally!

Personal Productivity Tip 6 - Manage Low Payoff Activities!

In every business or role, there are many “Low Payoff” activities. They are not “High Payoff”, but need to be done!

Often they are process or administrative in nature.

Once you know what they are and how long they take – you are then in a position to make decisions around:

  • Who should do it?
  • If it can be delegated
  • The best time and how frequently it needs to be performed
  • If it could be outsourced – whilst this will incur an expense, the opportunity cost needs to be considered

Personal Productivity Tip 7 - Stop Doing!

One of the most powerful actions you can take to improve personal productivity is to stop doing!

We all perform many tasks, which if not done, the world wouldn’t fall apart!

To get back time, you need to make decisions around what you will stop doing!

It is powerful & liberating – and will free up time to focus on what is important!

Personal Productivity Tip 8 - One Thing!

Multitasking is a myth! It is really just “task switching” which drains energy and kills productivity!

If you want to be productive – focus on ONE thing at a time!

  • Remove distractions
  • Clean up your workspace
  • Turn off email and other notifications (Action these at set times a day)
  • File what you are not working on away. (Having it sitting on your desk is a distraction, it creates unnecessary pressure!)

Focus on……. ONE thing!

Personal Productivity Tip 9 - Systems!

Systems make you far more productive and save energy!

Therefore, it makes sense to systemise everything you do, to the greatest extent possible!

Because you are not continually” reinventing the wheel”, you will have more “head space” for creativity and to focus on what really matters!

Start by choosing a task that takes a lot of time and leaves you feeling drained and record:

  • The resources needed to perform the task
  • The team members/other parties involved and what they do
  • The process steps – down to granular detail

Often when we do this, we realise:

  • Access to critical resources is lacking
  • The process has too many steps
  • The sequence is incorrect
  • It requires greater coordination

Whilst solutions may not be immediately clear, the process outlined will allow you to explore possibilities.

The key is to reflect, experiment and refine.

Once you have built your system, to improve productivity you need to stick to it!

Personal Productivity Tip 10 - Take Regular Breaks!

When we have a lot to do, we often fall into the trap of “keeping our nose to the grindstone!”

Rushing from one task to another. Ending up completely exhausted and less productive!

Research has shown we need breaks to sustain productivity throughout the day. Once an hour, take a short 3 to 5 minute break.

This doesn’t mean checking emails or doing some other task (which is just task switching), but actually taking a break!

This simple action will help you to focus for longer and be far more productive!


When there is more to do than time available, it is important to use your time to focus on what really matters! That is; your “High Payoff Activities”.

For routine matters you can’t avoid, build systems you can complete the tasks as efficiently as possible.

Above all, value your time! Focus and avoid the trap of multi-tasking!

Finally, to find the time to do everything that is needed, take a risk and stop doing!