It's not about working harder but learning how to work smarter. Below are some tips that can help you increase your efficiency, your productivity saving your time for people and things that matters to you the most in life.
Practice the 80/20 rule
Focus on 20% of the things that are important because they yield the greatest value. These would be the need to do task that contributes and will have the most impact to your bottom line, or in achieving your life goals.
We all have times when we feel more energized and productive. Identify when your times are and schedule the work that requires the most effort to be done then. For the other times, you can focus on menial tasks or schedule time for fun.
Get the most important tasks completed first
This can be difficult for some. It certainly was for me. I used to do the easy, less important activities first and then procrastinate until the end to do the important task. But then someone challenged me to try this for a month. I realized by getting the important task out of the way first, it helps improve my energy since I'm not spending the whole day in dread and heaviness convincing myself that I still got that BIG thing I need to do. It's about just do it.
Plan your day the night before
Before you sleep, spend a few quick minutes thinking about all the things you want to get done the next day. Write it down and then prioritize. In doing so, you set yourself up to get cracking when you wake up in the morning.
For activities that does not require a lot brain work. For example, doing laundry and listening to a pod cast.
There are countless studies that have been done that shows if you mediate for just like 10 minutes a day, it can tremendously help ground you, bring peace and boost your mental clarity. This is true as I find whenever I miss a day or two of meditation, my days always seem more chaotic.
Learn to Delegate and Outsource
When you have work that needs to be done and it's not something that is within your scope of work or you know someone who can do it better and faster. Delegate or outsource. You can hire professionals on Odesk and Elance for a decent price for graphic design, admin, web management work. The key is to optimize the effectiveness of your time spent on essential tasks that creates value to your personal and professional life.
We are bombarded with distractions constantly and we easily get sidetrack. Thus, to divert being distracted block off some free time for you to get whatever important task that you need to get done completed. This could be blocking your calendar so people can't schedule meetings with you during specific times. Or waking up early, and get some work done in the peace and quiet before the hustle and bustle begins, or simply unplugging yourself.
Get a mentor
Learn from the people who are the best in what you are trying to do or perhaps they are just a few steps ahead of you. They'll be able to share with you their mistakes and their best practices. They'll help you see your blind spots. You can adopt and model their behaviors. There's no point in recreating the wheel if someone has already figured it out. This will help speed up your productivity in mastering something. Once you learn from them, apply them, make it your own and make it even better.
Batch similar tasks.
Bundle same activities together instead of scattering them throughout the day. This way you keep the flow and momentum going as you work on everything that is related to a similar activity optimizing your productivity.
Learn to say no.
I had a great manager who once said to me, no one is going to take care of you and your needs so you've got to. You need to keep an eye out for opportunities that jive with you and learn to say no. Say no to things that are not within your scope of responsibility and that are insignificant and unrelated to making an impact to your performance and your goals. If you keep saying yes to everyone and neglecting your own needs, you'll have lived a life pleasing everyone else. You'll end up not progressing with anything you want to do.
Taking a break.
When you are feeling overwhelmed and your brain is foggy and fried, there's no point for you to power through a task. Instead, take a break, relax, have some fun and recharge. You deserve it! Your productivity will soar with a clear head.