A new year brings new resolutions, new energy, and more “must-do” intentions. A common resolve is to be more productive — in all aspects of life. This could be through goals like “make healthier choices,” “manage time better,” or “work smarter.”
The thought and goals of being productive are enviable, but how does one actually become more productive? What can we do to prevent ourselves from falling back on old ways where the to-do lists simply pile up? How can we avoid spending hours attending “meetings?”
In 2024, how will we get more work done as we continue to embrace the hybrid and remote work model? Here are some tried and tested strategies that will set you up for a more productive year.
We can only set forth the right path for success when we are able to look back at the past and analyse our mistakes. Tim Ferris, author of the renowned Four Day Workweek, has a set 5-step methodology to conduct this year end review.
He recommends that one should:
By completing a year review, you will be able to identify opportunities or events that gave you the “biggest bang for your buck” and ensure that you make place for it to happen again.
In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Galdwell, emphasises the importance of giving 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to become proficient at a task or skill. Assigning yourself a 30-day challenge is one small step towards creating better habits and putting in those hours that will make you an expert.
A 30-day challenge also breaks down a mammoth goal into something that is more realistic and achievable. It provides you with a chance to build small, sustainable habits, which over a period of time, will become natural. Furthermore, the challenge can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. Run 5KM everyday for 30 days, or drink more than 3 litres of water. It’s up to you to decide which area you want to build consistency and accountability.
Time blocking is a popular time management technique used by the likes of Cal Newport and Bill Gates. When time blocking is done well, it increases productivity. Time blocking will not only guide you in what you have to work on, but also when. Here’s how it works. Time blocking requires you to do the following:
Here’s an example of time blocking in action. Say you have construction project A, construction project B, and back-end financial work as your priorities for the week. You allocate morning 9AM-11:30AM for project A, 12:00-1:00 PM for lunch, 1:00-2:30 for project B, and 2:30-3:30 for financial reports. You would try to get any work related to project A completed in the stipulated time for every day of the week and move on when the clock strikes 11:30AM.
Time blocking removes the confusion as to what you need to work on next and allows you to stay focused. Time blocking can become easier if you use a resource management system as it will give you an accurate estimate of how long each task will take.
Our resolutions are our goals, aren’t they? Our goals have to be realistic and achievable, only then can we slowly chip away at them. One of the best ways to set goals is to use the SMART goals framework. SMART goals are time bound, measurable, and specific. For example, a SMART goal for a sales manager could be “I will achieve my sales target by April 2024 through making five customer visits a week.”
Use these SMART goal templates and get started.
Planning for short and long-term plans has several advantages. While short term goals allow you to knock out daily and monthly to-do items, long-term goals allow you to work towards major milestones. A centralised project progress timeline or shared calendar can help you keep everyone on track for these plans.
Here’s another instance where a resource management software can make it easier. eRS, an enterprise resource allocation system, has a centralised dashboard that shows the project pipeline and how tasks are distributed amongst members. Any changes to project plans or requirements can be done in real-time and everyone will receive the updates immediately. The platform will also ensure that each resource is being utilised at their optimum capacity.
The right technology and tools can superpower your productivity. Fortunately, there are an abundance of tools that can help you with time management, which can increase overall productivity.
Tools like eRS can increase productivity by automating scheduling and reducing scheduling errors like double-booked resources. It also allows team leaders and project managers to quickly identify the right resources for projects. The real-time reports on resource utilisation, billings, and costs can keep a project on track. eRS’s timesheet feature helps you track how productive each person is by measuring how long it took them to complete tasks. And, we cannot forget how the tool can assist with time blocking and long-term planning (explained earlier in the blog).
Here’s a word of caution when it comes to tools and technology. Only adopt the ones that you will truly be using and are best aligned with your team’s needs. Too many overlapping tools can get in the way of work. Looking for employee scheduling solutions, check out our top recommendations.
The great thing about productivity is that it’s easy to track. You can track productivity in terms of hours spent on a task, the number of to-do items completed, amount of tasks that are left, or even the number of resources used for a project.
Identify the crucial productivity metrics and then track them diligently. This will give you first-hand information on what’s working or what needs to be altered. In a specific project management realm, some metrics to track are:
Use our recommended strategies and set yourself and your team up for a productive year. Implementing the techniques will allow you to turn your new year’s resolutions into actual accomplishments.
And remember, you don’t have to be on this productivity journey all by yourself. Proper use of systems and software can make a big difference in productivity, as an individual or a project manager. Try out eRS for free and be on your way to making 2024 your most productive year ever.