So, how productive are you right now? If you think that this is an area that you might like to improve upon, here are 4 steps to set you on your way.

1. Identify & Remove Obstacles

Firstly, in order to be truly productive, we need to identify those obstacles that are in the way. At an individual level it could be the constant distraction of your smart phone, those late nights resulting in fatigue each morning or your tendency to be a ‘people pleaser’ and take on too much work.

From a team perspective it might be poor communication or that unacknowledged conflict that everyone is aware of but isn’t willing to address. At an organisational level, it might be those outdated systems and processes that are no longer lean and efficient. So start here.  Identify each of those obstacles and remove them.

2. Prioritisation

Those individuals, teams and organisations that are truly productive understand the need for effective prioritisation. Of those tasks that are currently on your ‘to do list’ how many of them are truly important, which are urgent, what can be left until later and are there any tasks that can be allocated to somebody else or even discarded altogether?

Also, if you have a tendency to procrastinate, then remember the two minute rule. If a task will take two minutes or less to complete then do it straight away.  Just get it done and move on.  No excuses.

3. Scheduling your work

Now that you have removed obstacles and prioritised those tasks, it’s time to schedule your work across the coming week. Think about the times of the day or week when you are most productive. Are you a morning or evening person for example?  Consider those tasks which you find tedious and which are more motivating for you.  Schedule those tasks in an intelligent way at times of the day and week where you can perform at your very best.

Time blocking is a powerful method where you allow the time to focus on the deep work. These is those times when you carry out cognitively demanding tasks and do not want to be disturbed. Choosing 1 -3 essential tasks each day specifically for deep work is a great way to increase your productivity.

Always ensure that you leave gaps within your daily schedule as meetings and calls will inevitably take longer than anticipated from time to time and where a schedule it too tightly packed, one overrun can disrupt an entire day.

Finally, remember to schedule actual time to reflect and think. Without this you risk operating on autopilot and nobody wants that.

4. Celebrate Success

Don’t forget to celebrate your achievements wherever you complete a task.  That might be something as simple as acknowledging it yourself, having a cup of coffee or going for a walk outside.  Acknowledge also when others around you do a good job.  This attitude will help to contribute towards creating a culture where others too will recognise when you power through your schedule.  Mutual support and encouragement will help to keep everyone motivated and focused on maintaining that highly productive environment.

Joe McDonald is a professional coach and trainer.  Founder of create10 providing powerful one to one coaching, impactful workshops and online courses.  Bespoke individualised client services to support you in enhancing your performance. Email & see for further information