I have written a few times about how important focus is in our success journeys. To further drive the point home we need to speak about what focus looks like. How do we practically apply focus? Where do we practically focus? To that end let’s look at some of the things, rather the most important things you should focus on to improve your productivity. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student, trainee, employer, business owner, entrepreneur, creative, investor or other vocation. These tips are universal productivity boosters.

Time is made not found

Time management is a huge part of productivity. Without it, you are just as well shooting in the dark. The number of times that I have heard people say myself or someone else does something because they have time really surprises me. Nobody has more time than anybody. Everybody’s day has the same number of hours, 24. While I do understand that our circumstances differ and may place different demands on the time we have the reality is if you want to do something worthwhile but cannot “find” time you never will. Time is not found but made. You must actively choose to eliminate certain things to create time for the things that matter.

Focus on finishing

Another thing I would heavily encourage you to focus on is finishing things. The rewards for most pursuits in life come from completed works and projects. If you procrastinate because you are of the perfectionistic affliction, then this one really applies to you. There are no rewards for incomplete projects but people have found success with less than perfect works. So while quality matters a lot, getting it done is much more important. I would go as far as to say the quality does not matter if the task is not finished.

Do it once

Many of us have tasks that we repeatedly do. This is the nature of life and work. While all of those tasks are not created equal you should identify which of these tasks can be automated where possible. For those in business, I will give the example of explaining how your business or pricing works to potential customers. If you find yourself doing this a lot you can consider automating the process by having it written down once and simply presenting this to the prospects. This is the whole idea of a menu. For those tasks which you can, find a way to automate them, do it once and never have to do it again so to speak.

Work smart

How many times have you been told to work smart not hard? Firstly it’s nonsense. Cultivate a culture of working both hard and smart. Success is usually found at the intersection of such ideas rather than on either side. But what is working smart? You will have different definitions specific to the type of work you do but what all of them will have in common is meeting deadlines. Working smart is making sure you work in such a way that optimises effort in the meeting of deadlines. So instead of organising your days weeks and months based on arbitrary measures such as degree of difficulty or what you feel like doing, organise your work and life in terms of achieving the things that matter most and first. Quadrant two management is a great help in terms of this.

Effectiveness over efficiency

Finally, efficient working has been glorified so much. I touched on this a little bit earlier on and you could say perhaps that this is the overall message of this article. Focus on effectiveness than efficiency. Effectiveness is the ability to get things done, efficiency is the ability to get them done with the least expenditure of time, energy or other resources. There is absolutely nothing wrong with aiming to be efficient, in fact, it is important but it must not come before effectiveness. To get a really good grasp of this you can read 7 habits of highly Effective People which really goes in-depth into the idea. The reality that is often not spoken is that efficiency tends to come from mastery and mastery comes from effectiveness. So before you go about learning how to do that thing you are required to do efficiently, learn to get it right first.

Not the most exciting list of things you have ever come across I am sure but these are the things we need to learn to focus on to boost our productivity.