In our last post, we shared our top 10 productivity hacks for HR professionals. We discussed how to plan your day, avoid multitasking, set priorities, learn to say no, and more. In this final article in this 2-part blog post series, you’ll discover how to become even more productive and completely own your day.

11. Seek progress, not perfection

Sometimes, our own quest for perfection can get in the way of productivity. We are hesitant to start tasks if we’re not sure we’re able to make them perfect. However, rather than using perfection as our guide, think about progress.

Stop worrying about making today the best, most productive day of your life: simply strive to make it better than yesterday. As Bill Gates once said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in ten.”

12. Take breaks

Your brain is a powerful muscle, but it needs a break sometimes. Allowing yourself time to relax and chat with a colleague can feel like the opposite of productivity, but it’s a necessary part of doing your job.

Take regular breaks to give your brain time to recharge. Plus, if you come up against a challenge that’s really frustrating you, step back and think about something else. Giving your mind that space will make it easier for you to work productively—and solve that problem—later on.

13. Know yourself

Everyone is different. Some of us are our most productive in the mornings, others in the afternoons, others at three in the morning. There’s no wrong way to be productive (although some times are more convenient than others).

Pay attention to your own productivity habits — you’re not going to run at 110% all the time, and that’s okay. Know when to push through the slumps, and when to ride the productive phases as they kick in.

14. Know what outcomes you’re looking for

Before you begin a task, visualise what a successful finished product would look like and strive for that. It will help motivate you to take your to-do list from start to finish. And remember: never confuse quantity with quality. While it can feel tempting to say, “I’m going to do as many screening calls as I can today,” make sure you’re giving yourself time to ensure quality. Even if you only screen one or two candidates, you’ll know you did it to the best of your ability, and that’s more valuable than 10 rushed calls.

15. Take care of yourself

We know we need to exercise and eat well, but don’t forget that sleep is a key factor in productivity as well. While your health may seem to have little to do with the tasks at hand, taking care of yourself will go a long way towards making you more productive.

According to Dr Charles Czeisler in the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, “Concentration, working memory, mathematical capacity, and logical reasoning are all aspects of cognitive function compromised by sleep deprivation.”

In other words, being well rested will ensure you’re better at your job.

16. Turn repeat tasks into habits

In order to conserve your mental energy, try to limit the number of small decisions you need to make in a day. If you have tasks that you’re expected to do over and over, rather than deciding when and how to do them, simply set up a calendar event in which you complete that task every single day. Turning tasks into habits will make you faster and more efficient over time, even if it feels challenging in the beginning.

17. Create frameworks and systems

Similar to creating habits, using systems and frameworks to complete routine tasks is a great way to help you manage your time and increase productivity.

Using a file manager, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, create a folder in which you save all of the work that you need to complete regularly. Rather than reinventing the wheel every time you need to create an onboarding package or answer questions about your benefits plan, simply grab a template from your backup.

18. Commit to yourself

Whatever it is that you want to improve at, you need to commit to yourself before you’ll ever be able to find long-term success. Make the decision and commit to it.

Write down your goal, post it to your computer screen, or partner up with a buddy who’s also looking to improve their time management. The next time you feel like giving up, remember why you set your goal in the first place — that should motivate you to continue pushing forward to achieve your objective.

19. Make time for play

When we focus so hard on being productive and meeting our goals, it can make work feel decidedly more work-like and, potentially, less enjoyable. This is why it’s important to remind yourself why you love your job and to make time for laughter. Look for ways to inject more fun and humour into your to-do list each and every day. Time management isn’t about the absence of fun—it’s about leveraging it to do our best work.

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