Shirley's Articles / Personal Effectiveness

The 3Ps For Increasing Productivity

How does your ‘to-do’ list look? Does this question bring tears to your eyes or make you ask ‘what to-do list?’ Are you desperate to ramp up your productivity, get those reports finished or complete those kitchen renovations? Well, the only thing truly stopping you is… you.

It is true that we are our own worst enemy when it comes to hindering efficiency. There are many reasons. You could lack motivation, organisation or prioritisation. However, it’s easy to remedy all these things if you truly want to increase your productivity. I hope that my 3Ps can help you become more successful in the workplace or home by giving you easy guidelines on how to increase your productivity:

1. Prep

This is the most important stage. It is all about you. The number one thing to do to prepare for efficiency is… sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause massive disruptions in your productivity. So, if you are tired, have peace of mind that you are doing the right thing by getting your rest and not staying up late to finish tasks. When you are rested you will be happier, motivated and more energetic. These are vital to being productive. Along with exercising and eating right, maintaining feelings of happiness is your way to combat stress.

Finally, don’t give in to laziness. Personally, I wake up at 5am (ok sometimes 6!) to get an early start to the day. I find I can get a lot done in these quiet early hours. You are just as capable of getting a good, early start to the day. If you simply don’t have the energy to wake up in the morning, then get moving. Find something to get your energy and happiness in order as these are vital to sustainable productivity. When your life is balanced, you are ready for the next stage.

2. Plan

Here is where you prioritise, organise and schedule. I recommend making a daily to-do list of manageable goals. There’s no need to overdo it. Being a productive person does not mean working yourself to death. Buy a nice day timer that becomes your second appendage. Only use your phone or computer as your scheduler if it does not cause you to procrastinate.

If you are a serial procrastinator, write down each individual task, no matter how small. You can train yourself to enjoy the sensation of crossing items off a list. It’s a great feeling!

Tell other people what your tasks are. Send an email to your boss about what you are going to do that day. Text your spouse about the tasks you plan on accomplishing. Having another person know about your goals with make you accountable.

3. Perform

First things first. Eliminate ALL distractions. Turn off, silence or even separate yourself from your smartphone. The world does not end when you are not available 24/7. Do what you need to do, then be available to others. Lock the office door if you have to. Use caller ID, earplugs, ambient music, whatever helps you focus.

Do not multitask. What seems like a way of getting more done in less time actually does just the opposite. In such a fast-paced world, the temptation to do more than is possible is everywhere. Do not give in. Focus!

Do your most difficult task first, when you have the most energy and motivation. After that, the rest will be a piece of cake and you will be crossing items off faster than dominos.

Increasing productivity is an accomplishment. It gives you a sense of peace and pride when you get to the bottom of that ‘to-do’ list. Don’t rob yourself of that. Prep, plan and perform what you set out to accomplish. Start today!

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Shirley is an international bestselling author. She has established herself as a leading authority in email and business writing skills. Her international bestseller Model Business Letters, Emails & Other Business Documents 7th edition sold over half a million copies worldwide and has been translated into 17 languages. Her book Email Essentials reached #2 in the USA for publishers Marshall Cavendish International. Find out more about Shirley at

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