Being more productive doesn’t necessarily mean working longer hours or working faster. To me, it means working more efficiently and effectively. Below are 7 tips that I teach my patients to help them be more productive. I treat patients who have Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and I find these work well.
1. Create Your Schedule The Night Before
Many people (many of my patients who are suffering from Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) start their work day spending a lot of time trying to figure out where to start, surfing the Internet, or chatting with colleagues. A great way to start your day with a bang is to write out a schedule the night before. This is not your calendar, but may include some of those items. Focus on your top priorities and anticipate any obstacles.
2. Under-promise and Over-Deliver
Many of us are overly optimistic about what we can accomplish in a day. Thus, we promise our managers, families, and ourselves that we will get “just one more thing” done. This can create constant pressure and take the “wind out of our sails” when we don’t deliver. I recommend that people promise or commit less and then as they are working, to over-deliver. This allows for more success and improved productivity.
3. Cluster Tasks
Answering phone calls, checking emails, and surfing the Internet are huge time sinks in our days. Thus, cluster certain tasks to specific times of day. For example, you might decide to check your emails only once in the morning and once in the afternoon. This allows your to focus on your key priorities without constant interruptions.
4. Reward Yourself
Research shows that rewarding yourself improves productivity and consistency. I find this to be especially true for my patients who are dealing with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). No matter how small the task is, say to yourself “Good Job” after you have started a business proposal, returned a phone call, or completed filing a pile. When it is a larger project or goal, you might reward yourself with a walk around the park, going out to lunch with a friend to a special restaurant, or going for a massage. It is more important to acknowledge your “wins” than the actual reward.
5. Write Out the Steps
There are many tasks or projects we avoid because they seem daunting or confusing. An effective way to overcome this is to take out a sheet of paper and start writing out the steps. The exact order doesn’t matter. If you don’t know how to do a particular step, write out “find out how to….”. You might also work with a colleague or friend to discuss what the steps are. REMEMBER: Write it out. Don’t just discuss the great ideas. Then, decide what the first steps are. After you have some momentum, you can organize the steps and add any additional items.
6. Create Goals
Create goals for different time periods including the year, quarter, and month. The most effective goals are specific and have a deadline. Also, by writing them in the present tense, it sends the message to yourself that you are going to complete it. For example, “I am reaching my sales goal of $500,000 by December 31st.”
7. Develop Protocols
For tasks or projects that are repeated, develop a protocol. If there are ten steps for a specific task, write out a protocol that includes each of these steps. This improves the motivation to do a certain task and also ensures that nothing slips through the cracks. It also allows the task to be accomplished more quickly.
I have been treating patients with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) for almost 15 years using cognitive behavioral therapy, one of the effective treatments available. Using these highly effective tips can help you improve your productivity.
About Scott Shapiro, MD
Scott Shapiro, MD is a New York City based psychiatrist, counselor, therapist and psychopharmacologist in private practice who sees patients struggling with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He uses evidenced based treatments including psychopharmacology, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and schema therapy.