15 ways you can be more productive


John Nieuwenburg

John Nieuwenburg has been a professional business coach since 2004. Prior to becoming a coach, he held executive positions with Tip Top Tailors and BC Liquor Stores. In 2019, MacKay CEO Forums awarded him with Canada’s CEO Trusted Advisor Award in the Small Business category. Since becoming a coach, John has worked with over 350 clients, taking them through a systematic process that helps them feel organized, confident and in control of their businesses.

Staying focused and productive can be a challenge when everything seems to be tugging for your attention.

My clients often tell me that they are overwhelmed with so much to do and want to know how they can be more productive.

Here are 15 of my best tips.

1. Plan your day before it starts

You are in control of your day and your calendar.

Deciding what you plan to achieve sets the tone of your day. It keeps your mind focused. And a focused mind can achieve a lot.

2. Use a default diary

Set up a default diary and make sure that you have time scheduled to complete important projects and tasks.

3. Prioritize your work for the day

While reviewing your plans for the day, identify the most important things you need to do.

Focus on the most critical work first before doing everything else. If you have 150 priorities, you actually have zero priorities.

4. Analyze your activities to identify and minimize time wasters

If you want to free up some serious time, start with doing a skill/fun box exercise to determine what you need to do – and what you should delegate.

My clients have reported to me that they hear my voice in their head asking: “can’t someone else do that?

5. Hire a virtual assistant (VA)

A VA is the “someone else who can do that.”

A good VA can take things off your Oh Sh*t List – often doing a better job than you can for about $20/hour.

6. Learn how to delegate well

Delegation is not abdication – nor is it micromanaging.

Delegation is a skill that you can learn – this will help: Delegate like an Executive.

7. Reduce inefficient communications

Your role as the leader of your company is Chief Communications Officer.

Develop a regular team meeting rhythm – including a daily huddle – for managing employees. When it comes to communicating with clients or vendors, sometimes a phone call is faster and more effective than an email.

8. Break large tasks into smaller tasks

Have you ever looked at something on your to-do list and thought to yourself: “I don’t even know where to start”?

The best way to start is by breaking that large task into smaller tasks.

9. Take a break when you need one

When you begin to feel overwhelmed and stressed with work, take a break.

Breaks are necessary to recharge your brain cells to be more focused when you eventually resume.

10. Manage interruptions

Interruptions will break your flow and significantly impact your productivity. Don’t let every ring, ping, or ding derail your progress.

If you need to do some focused work turn off your phone notifications, close your office door and make yourself unavailable.

11. Concentrate on one thing at a time

Once you’ve identified a key task, stay on it until it’s 100% complete.

12. Work every day towards achieving a long-term outcome

One of the best ways to achieve your long-term visions is to be more productive in your short-term goals. Work towards your long-term goals by actively accomplishing the daily goals you set for yourself.

13. Simplify your work process

Sometimes we fall into habits of doing things the same way every time without stopping to look for a better way.

Can you get the same thing accomplished in 5 steps instead of 7?

14. Learn how to terminate unproductive discussions

Find a way to politely extract yourself from casual chitchat.

If you’ve completed everything on the agenda, end the meeting early and claim back some time.

15. Set communication rules for your peers or subordinates who bring you questions or problems

Ask people to do these 3 things before they come to you:

  1. Write down the problem. Reduce it to a single sentence.
  2. What are the three best solutions or suggestions for the problem? Write them down.
  3. What do you recommend?

Being more productive is an intentional decision to make. When you’re clear about what you need to do, the above tips can really help you make the most out of each day.

Sometimes “increased productivity” isn’t the answer

If you’re uncertain about your goals and your most important priorities – or if you know you need to make significant changes to how you’re doing business and aren’t clear about what those changes need to be – it might be time to consider working with a business coach.

You can book 15 minutes on my calendar here: book time with John

Free E-Book: Ultimate Guide to Time Management and Productivity

ultimate guide to time management cover

How to escape overwhelm and gain time freedom in your business

This guide includes my best advice and coaching exercises to help you:

  • Get control of your email and calendar
  • Prioritize your most important tasks
  • Become more productive than you ever thought possible

Ready to free up 5-7 hours per week? Download this guide today!

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