Do you know the No. 1 cause of poor productivity? It’s switching costs, or the productivity reduction experienced every time you switch from one activity to another. The American Psychological Association explains, “Although switching costs may be relatively small, sometimes just a few tenths of a second per switch, they can add up to large amounts when people switch repeatedly back and forth between tasks.”
Switching costs, or multitasking, can be fatal to your workflow, particularly as we’re all tasked with improving our workflow and productivity outcomes. Let’s discuss how to take switching costs out of your daily productivity budget:
1. Tackle big projects first.
Have you ever crossed off more than 60 percent of your daily work tasks hours before clocking out? Feels pretty great. However, doing little tasks to simply get through your to-do list may be a productivity fail. Instead, hack away at those big projects first. It would seem that this is counterintuitive, but working on those big tasks while your mind is fresh, and you are full of energy, makes for powerful work.
Pencil in a few hours on your digital calendar to work on that big project, and then switch to small tasks. The long-term benefits you will achieve with this will be addictive.
2. Eliminate mobile emails.
How often do you check your emails on your smartphone? The answer for most is constantly, since email dings continue to roll in due to the push setting on your phone. This is a serious productivity killer. To really stay laser-focused on your tasks, eliminate those email dings altogether. Simply switch your email notifications to off. Turning off your phone or deleting your email app isn’t a bad idea for productivity either.
“Instead of responding to emails one by one as they roll in, a workaround to reduce stress might be setting aside certain times of the day (perhaps morning, afternoon and night) to tend to messages,” Samantha Murphy explains in an article for Mashable.
3. Stop being social.
Another great productivity hack is to turn off social media alerts. You may tell yourself that you won’t check your Facebook or Twitter, but the temptation is often too much for most to handle. According to a study on the matter published in the International Journal of Computer Applications, “If not well-managed, social media participation may lead to a loss of productivity.”
First, you can try turning off your social media account notifications on your mobile and desktop. If this doesn’t work, you can turn your mobile off altogether and log out of your social accounts on your desktop. If all these options fail, try deleting your social media apps from your phone.
4. Only take on three tasks per day.
Again, this productivity hack may seem counterintuitive, but it simply works. If you put three sizable tasks on your plate each day, projects become focused. This is a hack many successful entrepreneurs employ to make their daily productivity less about to-do lists and more about prioritizing what is important. Completing two tasks daily is a good day, and three is a fantastic one.
5. Write emails offline.
Ever begin composing an important email and suddenly your inbox has three, six, or 10 new emails taking from your focus? This is common, making offline email writing a powerful productivity hack. Most emails are confirmations of meetings or B2B sales pitches. These can eat up your workflow efforts. Writing emails in Word or Pages with your email browser closed is the perfect way around this.
Remember to keep your mobile out of reach and off to make this a successful productivity hack as well. This also helps you spell check writing too, so it is a win-win to copy and paste.
6. Schedule dedicated days.
Another great way to ensure maximum productivity is to schedule days for certain projects. This will help you keep a nice workflow throughout the week. For example, Monday may be the perfect dedicated day for outreach calls and emails. Tuesdays can be all about content development. The key is to ensure all other productivity best practices above are in place to get the most out of your dedicated days. You don’t need to map out your entire week right now. However, to see if this hack works for you, schedule a dedicated day next week for a project or area of your business that you really want to tackle.
7. Leave work at work.
It can be challenging for any entrepreneur to turn off the ideas. This makes leaving work at work imperative. What does this have to do with productivity? If you are not turning off your mobile daily, you may run the risk of burnout. This could lead to a lack of focus on the big projects you need every bit of concentration for. Leaving work at work gives you the break your mind and body need. If your office is at home, turn off your computer and mobile and lock them in your safe.
There are plenty of productivity hacks you can try. The key is to find the right ones that work for you. Everyone’s workflow and style is different when it comes to business, so pick and choose the most effective and make your days powerfully productive.
(Article written by Marcela De Vivo)