Break free of productivity zappers!

If you are an accountant, bookkeeper or small business owner - here are some tips to slay those productivity traps!

You’re checking items off your to do list like crazy, but are you getting anything significant done?

It’s 10 o’clock in the morning and you’ve already cleared your email inbox, responded to texts and voicemails and organized your desk. But unless you work in a customer call centre or are an efficiency expert where your job is to actually do those things, have you used your time wisely?

Your so-called “productivity” may be a false reality, tricking you into thinking you’re getting more done than you really are.

Here are four productivity traps that you may be falling into —and some fixes for how to break free of their grasp.

Productivity trap 1: My day was super busy, so I must have got so much done.

Your schedule might be chockablock around the clock with power breakfasts in the morning, luncheon seminars, and networking events after work. You feel (and look) busy, but are you really getting anything significant accomplished? Are you closer to realizing any of your goals?

The Fix: The 9-item to do list

On any given day, assume that you can only accomplish one big thing, three medium things, and five small things, and narrow down your to-do list to those nine items. It’s also called the 1-3-5 rule.

Face it, you only have so many hours in the day, and you’re only going to get a finite number of things done. Prioritization works and forcing yourself to choose a 1-3-5 list means the things you accomplish will be the things you chose to do that are important to moving you and your work forward—rather than what happened to get done as you stumbled about your day.

Productivity trap 2: I can multi-task with the best of them and get more done that way.

Multitasking can trick you into feeling like you’re a productivity superhero. After all, if you can pull together a budget, listen in on a conference call, and file your invoices – all at the same time — you must be running circles around your single-tasking co-workers, right?

Wrong! Multitasking can make you perform worse in whatever you’re doing. Studies show that when you try to focus on too many things at the same time, you’re less likely to be able to filter out irrelevant facts, switch between tasks effectively, and remember important information.

The Fix: One thing at a time

It might feel less productive—or even be less enjoyable—to work on one thing at a time, but homing in on one specific activity will bring out your best. Your brain is wired for deep and innovative thinking, but that can’t happen when it’s pulled in a bunch of different directions at once.  Focus deeply and without distraction. Giving your full attention to the task at hand will increase accuracy, innovation and speed. Make sure to take frequent breaks and give your brain some down time – making room for your next inspired idea.

Productivity trap 3: I leverage technology to make me more efficient.

These days, there’s no shortage of digital time-fillers that can make you feel productive. You can spend hours getting lost in your social media news feeds and whatever else it takes to stay in the online loop. But while your fingers are busy typing and your eyes busy reading, all you’re really doing is getting hits of information – over and over again – instead of working toward a goal.

The Fix: Choose only those apps, devices or systems that truly save you time.

Evaluate what its your biggest time sap and then research what could help.

  • Do you lose time searching for notes you hastily jotted down in a notebook or on a piece of paper and now can’t find? Evernote could be your new technology best friend.
  • What about your calendar? If you struggle to align schedules and keep track of your next meeting then Calendly will get you back on track.
  • Do you find yourself scrambling to find answers and calling your accountant or clients calling you at the last minute about financial and operational data? chata.ai could be a lifesaver.

Figure out where you lose precious minutes or hours and then find the right tool for you.

Almost every habit is the result of small decisions over time and very small improvements can lead to big success. Being more productive doesn’t have to involve a huge overhaul of how you work. Try even one of these simple fixes and see if it makes a difference.

Lindsay Westren

Author Lindsay Westren

Lindsay Westren is the Digital Marketing Specialist for Canadian tech start-up, chata.ai. chata.ai is a conversational analytics assistant that connects directly to your QuickBooks Online data that allows you to quickly access, search and analyze your accounting data.

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