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How to Be More Productive

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Written by: Chrstine Tsai 

There are tons of productivity tips out there. Here are my top 5.

  1. Be present. Multitasking is dangerous and causes you to feel frazzled because you’re never fully concentrating on one thing. If you’re on a phone meeting, don’t plow through email or Facebook or Twitter. If you’re in an in-person mtg, don’t bring your laptop. Just bring yourself (and maybe a notebook) and actually listen to the other person. When you’re spending time w/ your kids before they go to bed, actually play w/ them and engage yourself. Put your phone down. Email can wait.
     
  2. Be on time. I find that when I start to run late for meetings, my whole day feels frenetic and drains me of energy, leaving me less likely to actually GSD. When I actually do run on time, I feel energized because I know I wasn’t wasting time. In-person mtgs often run late b/c you lose track of time, so I try to avoid this by setting up a calendar event immediately after my mtg (whether I actually have a mtg or not) and setting an alert to go off 5-10 min it’s scheduled for. Then I know I need to skedaddle.
     
  3. Be good to your body. Folks in Silicon Valley work themselves to the bone like it’s a badge of honor. But it’s not possible to be running at full capacity for a long period of time. Otherwise you burn out. It is a marathon, not a sprint. Eat well, hydrate yourself, get exercise, and SLEEP. Such basic things are hard to do (I have a LOT of trouble w/ all 4 of these things). But when I am able to do them, I am able to get a lot more done.
     
  4. Be responsive. Everyone is guilty of dragging their feet in getting back to people – particularly over email. Gokul Rajaram (who I worked with @ Google and has been a wonderful mentor) spoke to our accelerator batch yesterday and shared his tips for handling email. He quickly assesses incoming email. Anything he can handle in <= 5 minutes, he tackles right then and there. Anything he deems will take much longer, he categorizes into a different label. He also mentioned how some people don’t even use email, but only communicate via text. Whatever your method of choice is, being quick to respond usually helps productivity. You put the ball back in someone else’s court and that’s one less thing for you to do.
     
  5. Be crisp. Eric Antonow is one of the most sage people I know. I had the honor of working for him @ Google. He always reminded me to “be crisp.” In other words, be concise, be direct, and prune things down to the most salient points. I have found this to be true. This prevents you from wasting time due to beating around the bush, needing to clear up misunderstandings, etc. and ultimately makes you more efficient. (whether it’s verbal or written communication) 
     

What are your productivity tips?

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