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Productivity: Time, Energy and Attention

By PJ STEVENS Published 14th Aug 2014
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Why is it that some days you're very productive and other days you just can't seem to get it together? We all think about work as 'setting time aside' to do something. However, if you want to be really productive you need to prepare yourself to make the most of that time.

You will need to manage your energy. This means that you should ideally eat well and not drink alcohol the night before your productive working session. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a day set aside for catching up with work is a more relaxed day, and therefore you can let yourself go a bit the night before. Unfortunately this sets you up for not getting the most out of your day.

To get your energy level right you will need to sleep well and manage your food. Have a good breakfast and have a snack such as an energy bar between breakfast and lunch. Avoid sugary foods and don't drink too much coffee. Your aim is to manage your energy levels.

Energy and attention link together. You will need to really focus on the tasks in hand. Create a plan and work through it, avoiding distractions. Social media is a real enemy of attention, as are emails. The problem is that both activities look and feel like work, but they distract and break focus. Set specific times for any essential tasks and stick to them. If you are really important you may need to check your email twice in a day, max.

It can sometimes feel as though those days when you are super productive are somehow random, but that's not the case. Preparing for high productivity is like preparing for sport, and if you can approach it in the same way you will get the results that you want.

It seems like a lot of trouble to go to, but think of how good it feels when you've had a productive day and caught up with your work. Think, also, how bad it feels when you waste time set aside. There really is a downside.

You can also give yourself a reward. Have a super productive day and leave work an hour early on Friday, if you can. Productivity is achieved by a combination of time, energy and attention - it isn't random.

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