Are there simple ways to be more productive?

Image: Benjamin Wachenje | CNBC

Wouldn’t it be nice to bottle productivity and drink it on tap? It’s the elixir that drives great work but it’s a frustratingly finite resource. In our time consulting with clients, and producing work of our own, we’ve noticed a few failsafe methods for getting more out of the day. But don’t just take our word for it - we’ve also drawn on famous names who have something to add too.

Make a list

It’s good practice to keep a list of the immediate tasks you need to complete after you wake up, and before you go to bed that night.

Jim Krause, the designer famous for his work on Microsoft and Levis, talks list-making:

“I like to make a very complete to-do list for my day’s tasks, I include absolutely everything that needs to get done on that list, I put numbers next to each item on the list so that I can do things in a certain order (mostly, I do hard things up front, and save the easy stuff for later), and then I put my head down and get to work.”


A power session in the gym or a forty-minute run can revitalise the body and mind. Both Larry Ellison and Richard Branson stake out the gym even as they enter their grey-haired years.

Jack Dorsey wakes at 5AM to meditate and exercise. And Dorsey goes one further, enjoying a long walk daily. Speaking to Tim Ferriss, he said: “Taking the time to walk to work every day [was the best investment I made]. “Five miles, one hour and 15 minutes.”

Retain focus

If you’ve ever read Walter Isaacson’s excellent biography of the late Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, you’ll know that Jobs prioritized focus above almost anything else. As a product man, that meant doing fewer things, but doing them brilliantly.

“People,” Jobs said, “think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.”

No matter what you do, the advice rings true. By pulling back and refocusing on a smaller number of goals, you’ll find you get more done, to a better level of quality.

Keep staff meetings to a minimum

Management consultant Peter Drucker knew a thing or two about efficient businesses. One of his pieces of advice? “The fewer the meetings the better.”

Meetings can drag; they can hamper productivity; and they can drastically lower the mood of a workforce. A better option is one-on-one chats, or quick get-togethers that feel proactive and raise energy levels.

Curb your social media indulgence

Unless you’re using it for work, social media is guaranteed to waste precious hours in your day. But hey, we all know that already. Nip it in the bud with an app like Waste No Time, which can also be used to stop those sites you go to when we’re feeling unproductive.

Got something you’d like to add? Sound off in the comments below.

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