9 strategies productive people use to do more with less

If you're not prioritizing well, it's easy to find yourself trapped in a spiral of mindless, rote activity that looks like productivity but is really scrambling—a situation that can put you at greater risk for stroke, hypertension, and Alzheimer's disease.

Bernie Klinder, an entrepreneur, investor, and consultant, shares some tips in Forbes you can use to scramble less and do more.

1: Say "No." Be careful about what you add to your calendar or to-do list. To help decide what's worth your time, Klinder recommends a tip from Derek Siver, an author and entrepreneur: "If it's not a heck yes, it's a no."

2: Delegate. Leaders are often reluctant to delegate, and they end up swamped with work as a result. Instead, focus on the tasks that only you can do; Klinder recommends delegating or automating the rest.

3: Plan wisely. When a new task makes it way to your desk, evaluate how urgent or important it truly is, Klinder writes. Just because someone else thinks it's urgent doesn't mean it really is.

7 types of meetings to cancel right now

4: Use shorter calendar blocks. Most people schedule their time according to default blocks of a half hour or an hour. Klinder recommends shifting your thinking to increments of 10 or 15 minutes, which helps you squeeze more into one day. Those extra increments of time can add up across your week, he writes.

5: Avoid downtime. Find time you would have spent unproductively and make an intentional decision about how to spend it. For example, if a meeting ends early, knock out a few short tasks with your surprise free time. If you're traveling during work hours, use the time you spend in your car, train, or flight.

6: Know yourself. Klinder suggests managing your calendar around the times when you're most productive and creative. If your energy crashes in mid-afternoon, that's probably not the best time to schedule a brainstorming session.

7: Try new things. Highly productive people never settle for their current routine, Klinder writes. Instead, they always experiment with new tools, methods, and tweaks to improve their productivity, keeping what works and dropping what doesn't.

Why you feel tired after sitting at your computer all day

8: Stack habits. Combining several good habits can make each one even more powerful, Klinder writes. For example, getting up early is a good habit on its own. But to get the most out of it, you should spend the extra time doing things that prepare you for the day ahead, such as eating a healthy breakfast or exercising, he argues.

9: Plan ahead. Most people spend the first hour of each morning planning what they'll do that day. Instead, Klinder recommends getting a head start by planning tomorrow's schedule before you leave the office today (Klinder, Forbes, 11/14). 

Next in Today's Briefing

Something's missing from the training colleges give to future leaders

Next Briefing

  • Manage Your Events
  • Saved webpages and searches
  • Manage your subscriptions
  • Update personal information
  • Invite a colleague