If you want to increase your productivity and become a high performer at work, this list is for you!
Below are 113 ways to boost your productivity and workplace performance compiled to save you time and raise the quality of your work.
Filter through the items to find your most effective areas to address first.
Check the entire list out below!
1. Use Time Blocks
One reason you may not be as productive as you like is that you have not created the space during your day for your productive actions. Combat this by using Time Blocks following the 3 D’s of Time Blocks, listed below, to designate time to work on your task, distraction-free, in advance.
2. Defined Sections of Time (3 D’s of Time Blocks)
Your Time Block needs defined start and stop times. A defined start time prevents you from delaying your time block to complete “one more thing.” A defined end time confines your work to a time segment instead of allowing it to reside in your day indefinitely.
3. Devoid of Distraction (3 D’s of Time Blocks)
When you are more focused, you are more productive. To more easily gain and maintain your focus, scan your work environment before you start working and eliminate distractions before they have the opportunity to distract you.
4. Dedicated to the Completion of One Task (3 D’s of Time Blocks)
Working sequentially rather than attempting simultaneous multitasking not only allows you to complete a task faster but also with fewer errors. Work on one thing at a time.
5. Define Productivity Properly
Productivity is not about doing more things, it is about getting more things done. Make sure you think of productivity in this manner or you may find yourself juggling too many balls or spinning too many plates and spending more time keeping things afloat than getting things done.
6. Become an Essentialist
Instead of doing more things, do fewer, more important things, better. To apply essentialism into your work life, find the tasks with the highest ROI and do what is needed to complete them with high quality.
7. Build a Schedule
Create a schedule for your workday that not only has your work meetings listed but also your time blocks. This tool will not only relieve any “What should I do next stress?” but also tells you what to work on and when to work on it.
8. Clean Your Workstation
A cluttered workstation is a sign of a cluttered mind. A cluttered mind will struggle with productivity and high performance. Regularly clean your workspace to better foster focus and clear thoughts.
9. Airplane mode
Phone distracting you from working at a high level? Put it in airplane mode during your work session. This not only prevents your phone from chiming, lighting up, or buzzing, it prevents you from overlooking other notification alerts. Just remember to turn it off when you are done!
10. Hold Office Hours
If you are always available, it means you can never truly focus on what you are working on. It may be great to have an open-door policy but enabling this perpetually will harm your productivity and performance. Designate days and times to be office hours where co-workers can visit and speak with you and share them. This way you can be fully present with them when they visit and also preserve your focused work time.
11. Learn how to say “No”
“No” is the most productive word in the dictionary. Get comfortable saying “No” more often to prevent yourself from being stretched too thin, taking on more projects outside of your area, or your boundaries being violated.
Everything is not important. Your most important tasks are the ones that lead to the goals you are working to achieve. These tasks need to be prioritized and given prominence in your daily schedule. Learn to prioritize to prevent deadlines from sneaking up on you and make sure you are working on the most beneficial activities.
13. Single Task Over Multitasking
Multitasking is a myth. You cannot focus on two things at once because your focus is exclusive. Multitasking leads to slowed worked, mistakes, impaired decision making, and distractions all of which will harm your productivity and performance. Work on one thing at a time.
14. Set Goals
Goals drive productivity because they help to direct your action. Goals tell you what to do and what to avoid because you can compare and contrast your available options with them. This allows you to Select and Prioritize tasks that lead to the completion of your goals.
15. Use the 90/90/1 Rule
Want to become a high performer in 90 days? If you do, follow the 90/90/1 Rule created by Robin Sharma which states, “For the next 90 days, your first 90 minutes at work, make it focused on your single most important project.” While others are chatting, checking email, or getting coffee, you can be working on the task that helps you reach your next level.
16. Work With Your Energy
Would a morning person be at their best at 9 pm? Would you expect a night owl to be awake and productive at 6 am? An easy way to increase your productivity is to plan your high-intensity work during times when your energy is naturally high. For example, early birds can schedule their intense project work in the morning, and night owls can schedule their project meetings in the early afternoon. Work with your energy instead of trying to fight it.
17. Plan Backward
Want to heighten the probability that your actions will help you achieve your goals? Then learn to plan backward. Start with the goal you want to achieve then break it down into milestones and action plans for you to follow each day. This gives a framework to your action and gives your confidence your actions will lead to your desired goal.
18. Make Email Full Screen
When writing an email, make it full screen to increase the quality and speed of your response. If you can't see the distractions from other emails or pop-ups, you can’t be visually distracted by them. This also prevents you from seeing any other unopened emails which can result in a 10 point drop in your IQ.
19. Make a “not-to-do” list
Increasing your productivity and performance can sometimes be about removing things from your life than adding new ones. Create a “not-to-do” list of all the actions preventing you from reaching your next level.
20. Set Deadlines
Work expands to fill the time you give it. Create deadlines from your tasks so they don’t have permission to exist in your life indefinitely. The simple act of setting a deadline raises the urgency to complete it.
21. Stay Positive
“When turned toward the negative, we miss the novel. Novelty is the foundation for pattern recognition and, by extension, the basis of creativity” - Steven Kolter
Positive people are more productive people and are higher performers because of an increased reception for novelty and creativity. Implementing a daily gratitude or positivity practice will help you to find connections you couldn’t see before.
22. Ask for Help
You will not receive a gold star for completing a task all by yourself. Ask for help when you need it. To ask for help properly, ensure that you have stuck with the problem long enough to look at it from multiple angles and also make sure you have several questions around what direction you’d like to take so that the person you ask can tell that you want assistance in solving the problem, not for them to do it for you.
23. Be Intentional about Improving
Intentionally set aside time each day to get better at your craft. Professional athletes don’t train during their games; they train in addition to their games so that when the pressure and lights are on, they are ready to perform. In the same way, set aside at least 60 min a day dedicated to improving your ability to work and produce in your place of work.
24. Eat The Frog
Your discipline and the willpower needed to produce it diminishes throughout the day with use. To best capitalize on this reality, always do your most difficult task first. This prevents it from looming over your day and ensures that you get it completed.
25. Be productive, Not Busy
"If you end your day feeling like you got nothing done, it’s because you weren’t working: you were busy, not productive." - Richie Norton
To make sure you are having productive days instead of busy days, regularly ask yourself this question, “Is this current action leading me towards my goals?” If the answer is Yes, your action is productive. If the answer is No, your action is busy work. Remember to be brutally honest with yourself when asking this question.
26. Choose your most productive actions first
While you may have many productive activities to pursue, you will get the most benefit from working on and completing the task with the highest ROI or most positive consequences. To discover if you are working on your highest ROI activity ask yourself, “Is this action the best use of my time, energy, and resources?”
27. Plan Big, Work Small
“If you want the largest increase in motivation and productivity, then big goals lead to the best outcomes.” - Gary Latham
But this is only half of the productivity and performance equation. Balance your big goals with smaller actions to keep you motivated and prevent you from getting stuck due to the monumental size of your goal. Plan big and work small.
28. Big ideas Require Outside Thought
Don’t sit at your desk if you are struggling to come up with an idea. Outdoor, natural environments are rich in novelty, unpredictability, and complexity. All of which will help stimulate your brain to gain insights that you simply couldn’t when sitting at your desk. When you get stuck thinking, go outside.
30. Plan Tomorrow Today
Having a plan to follow streamlines your actions as you don’t have to utilize any energy wondering what to do. Apply this concept to your workdays by planning your following workday before the end of your current one. By planning tomorrow today, you are “closer” to your work and can give a more accurate assessment of what needs to be done and set yourself up for success, productivity, and increased performance the following workday.
31. Move throughout the day
Sitting too long can drastically impede your ability to process information, problem-solve, learn and retain information, shares Dr. James Levine in his book Move a Little, Lose a Lot. Combat this by regularly getting up from your desk, stretching, taking walks, or even implementing a mid-day exercise routine.
32. Don’t check email first
Email is a valuable tool but when used incorrectly, can harm your productivity and performance. When reading emails, your brain opens several “tabs” like the tabs in your preferred internet browser and begins to work on them to find a solution. This results in less “processing power” being available to other tasks. The reduction in processing power leads to a reduction in available resources to work on the task at hand resulting in decreased performance and increased time needed to accomplish it. Avoid checking emails until you have time to work through them.
Peak State Performance
33. Morning Peak State Routine
Days that start on track are easier to keep on track. Create and implement a daily peak state morning routine to get yourself into a peak state that will help you to better handle the tasks you are presented with, increase your productivity and performance, and place yourself into a more positive state.
34. Drink more water
Are you dehydrating your productivity away? At 1% dehydration, worker productivity decreases by 12%! Your brain alone is comprised of 73% water which is why dehydration can have such an effect on your cognitive abilities. Keep a water bottle near your workstation to stay hydrated and keep your focus up.
35. Eat healthy food
What you put into your body will determine the peak of your performance. In the same way that a racecar’s performance will be capped if given low-quality fuel, your performance will be capped if you regularly ingest low-quality food. To best ensure you are consistently fueling your body with what it needs to perform at a high level, become aware of your eating habits and/or follow a diet. What diet is completely up to you but make sure it will fuel your body to perform at a high level. As always, makes sure to consult your doctor beforehand.
36. Journal Daily
Journaling has many facets that will help you to perform at a high level and increase your performance. You can write down and explore any challenges you are facing professionally or personally to find a solution. This is beneficial because it forces you to logically explain the problem and gives you an outside perspective allowing you to think about the problems rather than being in them. It also enables you to come up with tactical plans to help you achieve your goals.
37. Meditate for Clear Thought
Meditation has a bad rap. You may think that meditation is a “woo-woo” topic but it is a staple in high performers' lives. The world moves fast and this can result in us trying to get through tasks to get to the next thing, which will negatively affect your performance rather than being present and working on the task at hand, which positively affects your performance. Meditation is time to practice being present and training your attention to be comfortable resting on a topic, problem, or task for an extended period.
38. Create a Self-Education Plan
“If you leave your growth to randomness, you will always live in the land of mediocrity” - Brendon Burchard
High Performers are intentional about their growth and education. They are so motivated that they create personalized self-education plans so that can direct their learning to areas that are essential to their current and future growth. To start making education a priority in your life, set aside 60 min each day for your learning.
39. Make Exercise Non-Negotiable
Exercise must be non-negotiable for you. There are too many benefits to your performance and productivity (along with your body) to not exercise regularly. Brain-derived neural factors (Sparks production of new brain cells), Epinephrine & Norepinephrine (Boosts energy), Endorphins (Improves mood), and Serotonin (Regulates mood) are all released during exercise. Cortisol, your stress hormone, is also reduced. These all will help you to reach a peak state for optimal brain performance.
40. Build Your Self-Image with Affirmations
The words you say to yourself are important because they form the basis of your self-image. Your self-image dictates your standards and what habits and actions you tolerate from yourself. To change your self-image, craft 5-10 statements that represent who you desire to be and what level of performance you expect from yourself and recite them to yourself daily. Over time, this will result in you behaving in a way congruent to the words you speak. An example of this could be, “Today, I operate as a high performer in all that I do”
41. Visualize Your Productivity and Performance
Visualizations are like affirmations but in picture or video form. Daily spend 5-10 min visualizing you accomplishing your goals and you performing to the best of your abilities today. Also, ensure that you cultivate the same emotions you would feel if your visualizations were happening. The reason this works is your brain cannot tell the difference between an emotionally charged, fully thought out visualization and an actual activity. This gives you the “mental reps” needed to create new habits quicker.
42. Prioritize Sleep
When the time crunch is on, usually (tragically) the first thing to get sacrificed is sleep. Sleep deprivation, studies have proven, results in degradation of your working memory and attention, both of which have drastic negative effects on your performance. Comprehension, communication, innovative problem solving, and risk assessment are all compromised by lack of sleep as well. Don't take sleep lightly. Get at least 7 hours consistently per night.
43. Develop a Growth Mindset
“The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right.” - Henry Ford
Having a growth mindset, a mindset in which you believe you possess the abilities to learn and do things you currently can’t through training and practice, is fundamental to high performance. If you think your knowledge or abilities are fixed, you will not exhibit the grit needed to grow past your current level. Believe that you can achieve great things then do the things needed to make it happen.
44. Take a Break
Working without taking breaks does NOT make you more productive. It makes you less productive. Robert Pozen, a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, suggests taking a break every 75-90 min. He also suggests that instead of attempting to take a set number of breaks per day, to take a break as soon as you feel like your attention is waning. This will help you to recover your attention and energy so you can maintain your productivity and high levels of performance.
45. Vacations = Increased Performance
In the same way, you need breaks throughout the day to recover your attention, larger macro breaks or vacations away from work can help you professionally as well. Contrary to popular belief, not working can help you during working periods. It gives you the distance and perspective needed to analyze what you are doing and why you are doing it. In a recent study performed by Boston Consulting Group, it was found that employees who take more vacations have higher job satisfaction, experienced greater work/life balance while delivering more value to their company. Look at vacation as a must rather than alike.
46. Eustress and Recover for Growth
You must experience 2 states to grow: High Stress and High Recovery. High Stress or eustress (positive stress) is the stress that comes from exerting effort. This may come in the form of writing reports, performing studies, or interfacing with customers. While this work may be difficult it is needed to foster the growth that comes during the 2nd state: high recovery. While strain happens in the stress phase, growth happens in the recovery stage and your body and brain adapt to handle the higher levels of stimulus. This is best done in periods of complete recovery which is why it is important to take regular and comprehensive breaks and vacations.
47. Ask Yourself the QOTN (Question of the Night)
The answer cannot exist until the question is asked. Get into the habit of physically writing down a question about a topic or idea you would like the answer to and ponder it for a few minutes before getting into bed. This practice helps to transition the question to your subconscious mind, which can process information throughout the night. The next morning during your journaling session, take time to write about the insights you gained for your question in your journal.
48. Pursue mastery
Being the best means being intentional about being the best. It doesn’t just happen. Be adamant about pursuing mastery of your craft and other areas of your life. This will enable you to continually get better at the things you care about.
49. Find Your WHY
When you have a powerful why or reason for your productivity and high performance, the how becomes easier. By having a Why, a reason for the uncomfortable actions you are taking, you can strengthen your will and resolve to take actions you regularly might avoid. The reason this helps is that it broadens your perspective. Tasks and activities stop being just stuff to get done and become pieces of a larger whole.
50. Practice Gratitude
Have you ever found yourself stuck in a negative frame of mind? Not only will this keep you in a less than optimal mood, but it will also negatively affect your performance and creativity. When you focus on the negative, your brain focuses on tactical things (what is in front of you now) vs what could be (new possibilities, creative and novel ideas). To being changing your brain to focus on the positive, each day, write out 10 things you are grateful for. This intentional focus on positivity helps your brain to focus on possibilities rather than negatives.
51. Create the Conditions for FLOW
Flow is a state of high performance and productivity that will enable you to produce new heightened levels of achievement but this state doesn’t just arise, you have to trigger it. To interject more flow into your work-life, take time to purposefully add the following flow triggers:
Autonomy - Work on what interests you when you want to
Intrinsic motivation - Work on something you want to understand better, are passionate about, and aligns with a larger purpose you want to achieve
Concentration - Create a distraction-free environment to work
Have goals - Know exactly what you are trying to achieve and what success looks like
Feedback - Create a way to get feedback as quickly as possible for your work
Challenge and Skills - Take on tasks that are difficult enough to require your full focus but easy enough for you to not quit on. You want to struggle.
52. Be realistic in your planning. Be idealistic in your execution
Planning your days allows you to tell your time how it will be spent and allocate time for every activity that is important to you. While you do initially have a blank canvas of a day to work with, you want to be realistic in your planning so that you can prevent your day from being so planned out that one mishap ruins all the upcoming tasks. Leave blank spaces in your calendar to enable your day to flex and breathe rather than it being so rigid that any changes break it
53. Ask for Feedback and Critique
How will you know that you are doing the best you can do if you never ask others how you can improve? Feedback and critiques must be actively pursued by high performers. Although feedback can sometimes sting, especially when you initially thought you did an excellent job, it is essential to your growth and review process.
54. Improve Your Skills
Be intentional about improving your skills. Not only will this allow you to take on new and larger challenges, but it can also give you the insights needed to complete tasks faster and with better quality. When you are continually and consistently getting better at your craft, each iteration of your work becomes better than the last.
55. Be a Better Listener
Have you ever had to redo a project more than once because you didn’t initially understand what a customer or coworker wanted? Each time you presented your incorrectly finished project or had to stop and ask for more clarification was time taken away from working on the project. While it is unrealistic to eliminate all back and forth, by becoming a more active listener, you can lessen it. Make it a habit to listen to understand rather than to respond. Also, make sure you have your full attention on the person you are speaking to catch any nuances or areas where you need to ask clarifying questions.
56. Gain Clarity
Getting clear on who you want to become is essential to high performers. Without having this knowledge, you will find yourself doing ‘things” without the context of knowing what it is building up to. Take the time needed to discover who you want to be so that you can be working towards a goal rather than just wasting time completing tasks in a vacuum.
57. Raise Necessity
You may not always feel like being productive and that is OK. This is a sentiment shared by all high performers intermittently. What separates those stuck at above average and true high performers is the Necessity created around completing certain actions. High performers know that raising the Necessity around a task they can will themselves to a win. A simple way to do this is to draw attention to others. You can do this as well. The next time you are struggling with getting yourself to complete a task ask yourself, “Who needs me at my A-game right now? Who would benefit most from this task once it is completed?” and complete the task for that person(s) you have identified.
58. Increase Productivity
Productivity is key to high performance because it enables you to create space to perform the tasks that lead to your most important objectives. If your goal is to transition from above-average to high performer, pursue productivity to make your actions and time work for you.
59. Develop Influence
Contrary to popular belief, you cannot do this alone. There is a cap to what you can achieve in isolation. By learning how to influence (not manipulate) those around you to see your vision and how it benefits them or those they care about, you can inspire them to join your cause and assist you. To make their assistance stick, make sure you are modeling and are an example for them.
60. Exhibit Courage
Becoming a high performer takes courage. It takes courage to try to become more than what you currently are, especially if those around you are satisfied with where they are. When you run into struggles or challenges, remember why you are taking the more difficult path and who you are doing it for. This can help to remind you that your courage is not just for you, but for those that depend on you as well.
61. Generate Energy
It takes great physical and mental energy to achieve high performance. YOu have to obtain enough energy to go against the “norm” consistently enough to see a change. To improve your reserves of physical and mental energy make sure to get enough quality sleep, regularly exercise, consistently perform your morning routine, and train yourself to focus on the positive. While this may seem like a lot, it is needed to keep you going long term.
62. Take Full Breaks
We often think that growth happens in times of high strain when we are stretching our abilities to the brink but this is not true. Growth happens in the recovery periods that follow times of high strain and stress. If you are not intentionally taking time away from stimulation and work to fully relax, you are not creating an environment to prioritize growth. To do this, fully disconnect from work after work is over. You can even take mini-vacations where the only purpose is to relax and recover. While these seem antithetical to growth, these times are needed to promote it.
63. Capture Your Thoughts on Paper
Trying to remember things is mentally taxing and will stifle creativity. The reason for this is you spend your mental energy trying not to forget something rather than thinking about it. Insights only occur when thinking about them, not of them. To transition your mental process, use a notebook or pad to offload ideas and remove the mental burden of remembering them. This will free your mind up for creative insights and unique perspectives.
64. Learn Speed Reading
Do you have a stack of books that you just don’t have the time to read? While designating dedicated reading time is the first step to getting this done, you can also invest in learning to speed read to accelerate your consumption and comprehension of information.
65. Slow down to speed up
Slow is smooth; smooth is fast. When looking to become more productive, the first thing you may try to do is complete tasks more quickly. While this may initially seem like a way to get things done faster, it often leads to more work because the faster movement creates a lack of attention to detail and errors. A way to combat this is to slow down your actions so that you fully understand every aspect of what you are doing. Then, over time, gradually increase the speed at which you work. This way your speed is built on a solid foundation rather than haste.
66. Track for High Performance
Do you know what activities you have to be performed to prime your body and set up your environment for a high-performing day? Do you know how to make sure you get these actives done each day? The best way to ensure you stay at your peak is to track your peak state-creating activities. This will give you an objective understanding of how consistently you are doing them and gives you feedback on if and how you can improve them. Track the things that are important to you and you will always keep them in mind.
67. Stay Accountable
Accountability creates a sense of definiteness around your success or struggles each day. It prevents things from being left up to interpretation or subjectivity. It is easier for us to let things slide or come up with excuses if we lack accountability. You might decide, “I did all of my morning routines except one, I should be ok” or “I set up my time block but didn’t do it but at least I tried.” While there is a time and place for leniency, it has to be done with your full and objective statement that your task was not carried out in the way you desire it to be, less you begin to lie to yourself and lower your performance standard. Use an accountability tool/tracker, group, or let others know what and how to keep you accountable to get the support that you need to become a high performer.
68. Get Immediate Feedback
Immediate feedback is key for high performers. Having feedback tailors and structures your output to the desired state. While receiving feedback can be intimidating, it is needed to make sure you are improving and correcting your production. Seek feedback early and often to ensure that you are not wasting time and also producing your best work.
69. Make it Easy to Do Good
Our brains are lazy. Because they are resource-intensive, they seek to find the easiest and simplest way to do things. While this is a fact of life, if we are not careful, your brain will choose easy options that either stifle or hamper your growth. A way to combat this is to make it easy for you to do good things. This could be cooking healthy food in advance so that it is easier to reheat healthy food than to leave your home for fast food. This could also mean pulling out your workout clothes at night so that you don’t have to rummage for them in the morning. By making it easier to do good things, you “trick” your brain into taking the easier, more beneficial option.
70. Make it Hard to Do Bad
If our brains want to find the easiest way to accomplish a task, making it difficult to do bad or unbeneficial activities can make them less attractive. If your brain sees that it would have to expend more resources to pursue and accomplish an option, it will deprioritize it because it will be resource-intensive. By making unhealthy or unproductive options more difficult to do, you can make your brain not desire them as intensely. Things like keeping your cell phone in another room or a drawer or throwing away all of your unhealthy food make them more difficult to reach. Your brain recognizes this and lessens the fervor behind its pursuit.
71. Tailor your Environment for Success
Willpower and discipline don’t work consistently because they are resource-intensive and the more you exhibit them, the less of either you have. Instead of relying on them, set up your environment to support your success, high performance, and productivity. This offloads energy requirements from you and places them on your environment. For example, you don’t have to use willpower and discipline to not look at your phone's notifications if your phone is in airplane mode or another room. Do your best to create an environment that makes your success a default. Make it easy to do good and difficult to do bad.
72. Get Outside Support
You cannot do this alone. You need a group behind to support you, show you your blind areas, and encourage you during your downtimes. Find a community or people you can talk to so you realize you are not alone in your journey. You are not the only one struggling to become better and more. Use your community to propel you to new heights you could not reach on your own.
74. Utilize Pearson’s Law
“When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates." - Pearson's Law
This means that if you want to accelerate your growth, performance, and productivity you need to record and track key indicators. These could be: if you performed your morning routine, if you plan your day in advance, if you took a quality break or any other area you are looking to improve. Recording and tracking your performance in each area will give you an objective record of your performance and also place attention on your areas of focus.
75. Breaks and Brain Waves
While breaks are an essential part of your performance and productivity, the type of break you take has a large impact on its effectiveness. Looking at your phone, checking email, or watching TV are not effective break activities because they keep your brain in an active beta brain wave state. This beta brain wave signifies that you are not relaxing or recovering but still stimulating your mind. An effective break involves transitioning your brain into an alpha state. Activities that create alpha brain waves are non-intensive. For example, deep breathing, meditating or yoga, and other aerobic activities all foster alpha brain waves and will allow you to properly recover.
76. Take Care of Yourself
You cannot pour out of an empty cup. It is easy to fall victim to the “always working” or “team no sleep” trap that has been popularized around productivity and high performance. This fallacy will only leave you drained, unmotivated, discouraged, and degrade your performance. You need to regularly take time to take care of yourself. This may mean taking time to be unavailable, go to the gym, meditate or even sleep in. You need to make sure you are taking care of yourself because you can’t give your best until you are at your best.
77. Find Your Metrics
Tracking is important but determining what you need to track will make a tremendous change in your life. Take time to find the metrics corresponding to your target areas. Then test them to make sure they indicate success. For example, while waking up early is a good habit, it is not always the best habit to track. A better habit to track is maybe if you performed your morning peak state routine. Find the metrics that lead to your success and track them.
78. Only Track what Matters
It is easy to track your life into the weeds and have numbers and data for every aspect of your life. This abundance of information can have a more negative effect as you may end your tracking habit simply because it takes too long to track the things you care about. A better way to do this is to track only the habit that directly indicates your success, performance, and productivity in areas you are focusing on. This will prevent you from spending too much time tracking in areas that are not a focus and keep your tracking lean.
79. Understand Lead and Lag Measures
What you are trying to achieve and the steps needed to get there are two very different things and can be broken down into lead and lag measures. A lag measure is a goal you are trying to achieve. For example, getting a promotion, losing weight, or producing a report are all lag measures. They require steps to achieve them. A lead measure is an indicator surrounding the steps needed to accomplish your lag measure. For example, the number of hours spent studying, the number of calories you eat, or the words you write per day are all lead measures. You perform your lead measures to accomplish your lag measures. As you set goals (lag measure), make sure to incorporate lead measures to ensure that you are taking the daily steps needed to reach them.
80. Review Your Weeks
If you never look back at your week, how will you know you had a successful one? Take time each week to review what went well, what can be improved, and what you can do to make that improvement. This will allow you to improve your performance and create ever more ideal weeks intentionally.
81. Review Your Quarters
Take time at the end of each quarter to review it. This allows you to see the bigger picture in your work and life because sometimes it can get hard to see our lives. After all, we live in them each day. Right now, block off 1 day at the end of each quarter to be review days so that you can celebrate your successes, create systems to adapt to your shortcomings, and plan your future.
Focus and Attention
82. Never multitask
Our brains are not designed to pay attention to more than one thing at a time. When we try, the quality of our performance sufferers greatly. According to John Medina, the author of Brain Rules, multitasking not only results in a task taking 50% longer to complete but also increases the number of errors you have in your work by an additional 50%. If you want to get work done quicker with fewer errors, work on one thing at a time.
83. Attention is your Most Valuable Resource
Time is the universe's most valuable resource. The only problem is that time passes regardless. You don’t have control over it. The most valuable resource you have control of is your attention. Every action you take is preceded by giving it your attention. Therefore, what you choose to place your attention on or give your attention to is the most consequential action you take in each moment. To increase your performance and productivity, be intentional on what you place your attention on because it has to proceed a corresponding action.
84. Eliminate Distractions in Advance
When is the best time to eliminate a distraction? Before it distracts you. Institute a pre-work routine that includes scanning and eliminating your work area of distractions in advance. This could include things like putting your cellphone on silent, closing your email browser, and listing your status on your work calendar as “Do Not Disturb”. Performing these actions allow your focus to not be broken during your work sessions and makes it easier for you to slip into flow.
85. Avoid Working in Auto-Pilot
Have you ever done a task without really thinking about it? It may seem like you performed the task on autopilot rather than paying attention to it. When you do this on tasks, you fail to engage your brain because you are not truly paying attention to the task. When you are truly paying attention to the task, you may miss small errors, mistakes or produce at less than your best. Actively engage with your tasks to ensure that you are creating your best work each time. If you find your attention waning, take a quick recovery break.
86. The Cost Of Distractions
Distractions can be deadly to your production because the lingering effects of a distraction exist long after the distraction has occurred. According to Gloria Mark, a professor at UC Irvine, it takes 23 minutes to fully refocus after a distraction has occurred. This means that your quick 2 min check of your email or social media while working leads to a 25 min gap in your best productivity. Do your best to remain focused while working by eliminating your distractions in advance.
87. Limit Social Media
Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites are great but you have to remain vigilant that you are in control of them and they are not in control of you. Compulsive or irresistible urges to use social media can result in increased impulsivity, stress, and anxiety. All of these factors take you out of the peak state that you need to perform at your most productive best. Do your best to limit your social media usage and, if you find yourself unable to do so, get professional help to help improve the quality of your life.
88. Create Distraction Breaks
Cal Newport in his book Deep Work presents an interesting way to look at distraction and focus time in our own lives. You see your entire life as distraction-filled and work means carving out blocks of focus so that you can get high-quality work completed. Cal suggests that we flip this notion. Instead of trying to find pockets of focus in a life of distraction, confine your distractions to pockets of time in your focus-filled life. The best way to do this is to confine your distracting activities to hard, fixed time blocks. This way you can engage in your fun distracting activities without compromising the rest of your day and focus.
89. Meditation and Focus
Distractions are prevalent in today’s connected world. A benefit of taking time to regularly meditate is giving you time to think and rest in your life. This space and time to think increases the distance between thought and action which will enable you to more carefully choose your actions. When you get in the habit of thinking and selecting your actions instead of impulsively reacting, you can achieve better results because you are consciously choosing your most beneficial actions.
90. Beware Information Overload
“A wealth of information leads to a poverty of attention” - Herbert A. Simon.
You have access to more information than any person so far in the history of the world. The issue with this is when you have access to everything, choosing which things to pay attention to can be difficult. Because our attention is exclusive, paying attention to one source of information means ignoring all others during that time segment. If we try to jump from information stream to information stream, we lose any effectiveness because we are unable to go deep with any resources and instead go shallow in all of them. For example, it would be better for you to read 1 book in a year and apply all of the information and tactics inside than for you to read 100 books in a year and apply nothing because you are busy reading.
91. Avoid negativity
Our brains have a natural bias to find the negative. This served humanity well thousands of years ago when more things in the wild could harm or kill us. Now, although the majority of the things that could hurt us are gone, we still have the negativity bias. Focusing on the negative results in poorer decision making, sleep problems, and anxiety all of which will harm your productivity and performance. To combat this get in the habit of noticing times when you are accosted by negative thoughts and repeat 3 positive thoughts to combat them.
92. Use Music
Not feeling it while working and need a boost? A study has shown that a quick and easy way to increase your happiness and the quality of your work is to listen to music while working. What should you listen to while working? The best music to listen to is music without words (soundtracks, classical music, etc.) and that can exist in the background (you don’t find yourself dancing or nodding your head to the music).
Working From Home
93. Share Your Work Calendar
A great way to make sure you are not disturbed while working from home by your other adult cohabitants is to share your work calendar with them. This way they can know when your meetings are, when your deep work time is and when you are available. Sharing your calendar gives them the information they need to not compromise your focus and allows you to work without being distracted.
94. Create a Dedicated Workspace
Create a dedicated space inside of your home to work. By doing this you are creating a place where work can be confined to. The issue some find when working from home is that it makes their entire home another work location which makes it hard to disconnect and relax. By restricting your work to a singular location, your work may exist there and not in the rest of your home so that you can relax and recover effectively.
95. Remember Ergonomics
If you sit in an uncomfortable position while working, not only do you harm your body, your harm your productivity and performance as well. The awkward position you are sitting in can cause distracting pain, prevent you from working for extended periods, and trigger injuries. Invest in comfortable and ergonomic chairs and workstations to help you work to your best ability.
96. Create Your Schedule
You still need a schedule while working from home. Knowing when to work on certain things helps you to get them done quickly. Determine in advance when your work hours will be and don’t be afraid to experiment to find more flexible work hours that work best for you and your body's natural rhythms.
97. Define Your Boundaries
Having boundaries is essential when working from home. Some think that working from home means that you are always available because you are always “at work”. This mindset is false. You need to establish and keep strong boundaries when working from home to make sure you have enough time to recover, relax and be you. This will help your long-term productivity and performance significantly more than working 24/7.
98. Maintain Your Schedule
What good is a schedule if you don’t keep it? Sometimes things can pop up and you have to adjust how you operate in the day but do your best to make this an exception rather than a rule. The great and sometimes terrible thing about working from home is that you can be self-directed. Ensure you are giving and keeping your workdays structure as much as you can to maintain your sanity and prioritize your wellbeing while still staying productive.
99. Use a Shut Down Routine
A shutdown routine can help you improve your productivity because it creates a time to transition from work mode to live mode. This routine can include creating your schedule for the next day, identifying your most important tasks, and fully shutting down your computer. Creating a definite end to your workday prevents it from extending indefinitely.
100. Work/Life Balance is Essential
Your work life and home life have to coexist as separate parts of your life. Both need the other to be fully realized to operate optimally. Your work time needs home time because this is when you refresh, relax, restore and renew yourself to be at your peak the next workday and your home time needs your work-time to provide you all the things you need monetarily to get into your peak state. Make sure the delineating line between both times is thick and bold to preserve your performance.
101. Still Take Vacation
Working from home is not a vacation! It is simply working in a familiar location. Still, remember to take days off or go on vacation even if you are working from home. The full break can help alleviate the stress because you're fully off work rather than just not being in a traditional work location.
102. Limit Home Distractions
The distractions you face at home will be different from the distraction you face at work so you may have to find new solutions to overcome them. A tip is to make sure you don’t fall victim to home distractions without a definite end like cleaning, putting things away, or rearranging furniture. These activities and others like them can be tremendous time sucks because it can be difficult to judge when the task is completed.
103. When You are Done, Stop
Stop when you are done. When you are at home, it can be tempting to try and squeeze more work in after your dedicated work period is completed. Do your best to avoid this. Write down your insight to offload your brain from having to keep it in mind and preserve your home time. This will help you to perform at higher levels the next day.
104. Get Outside After Work
A great addition to your shutdown ritual would be to get outside after work. This offers a mental reset and gives you the physical space to transition your mind and body from work to home. It also can boost your focus, energy, and creativity.
105. Try Alternate Work Locations
If working at your actual home is proving too distracting or boring, try working in another location like at a park, library, or co-working space. Working from home doesn’t mean you are locked to your house and working from a new location can help you spark new ideas and maintain focus.
106. Ask for Help
If you find yourself struggling with working from home, make sure to ask your manager for help. You don’t have to suffer alone. Working from home may not have been a seamless transition for you depending on your home life or other circumstances. If your manager and company truly care about your productivity, asking them for assistance could provide you with new opportunities that you were previously not aware of. You may even be able to come back into the office to work if you desire.
107. Look for Training and Development Opportunities
You may find yourself with more free time when working from home because you can create a schedule that works for you and prevent distractions. With this newly discovered time, look for more training and personal or professional development opportunities. This can better prepare you and qualify you for your next level of growth and give you the knowledge you need to perform your current job at a higher capacity.
108. Set Daily Goals
Setting daily goals when working from home can help you to stay on track, motivated, and moving forward. Set 3-5 small goals that you will strive to accomplish that day. Over time you will see how your small daily goals can lead to tremendous results.
109. Get Enough Sleep
Working from home can be a double-edged sword because you don’t have to do all of the things you typically have to do when going into the office. You don’t need to allocate time for getting ready or travel which means that you can stay up and sleep later. Make sure you are getting enough quality sleep so that you can perform optimally and eliminate the outcomes of sleep deprivation.
110. Remember a Healthy Diet
What you use to fuel your body will determine the level of performance you can produce. Make sure you are taking full advantage of having stronger control over your diet and eating high-quality foods to keep you producing at a high level. Some rules of thumb are: make sure your plate is colorful, shoot to drink 1 gallon of water per day, and eat as much real, whole food as possible.
111. Don’t Be Afraid to Reset Your Day
Sometimes your day can get off to a rough or rocky start. You don’t have to continue to trudge through it when working from home. Feel free to reset your day. Take another shower, a quick reset break, or whatever else you need to do to re-approach your day with a new sense of enthusiasm and purpose.
112. Avoid News
Do your best to avoid non-job-specific news when working. The reason for this is the news can have a large effect on your emotions and you can’t control what stories might cause you to emotionally respond. Because of this, do your best to avoid all news that is not needed for your job during work hours. This will help you to stay positive, focused and not compromise your performance.
113. Consider a Standing Desk
“Sitting is the new smoking” shares the Mayo Clinic. A great way to combat this is to utilize a standing desk. A standing desk helps to increase your blood circulation, decrease back pain, and improve your overall performance. If you don't have a standing desk (or want these benefits until yours arrives) take a standing break at least once per hour.
Thank you for reading through the list!
If you think of anything that can be added or if there's anything I missed, mention it in the comments below!