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The difference between a productive work system and an unproductive one is enormous. Someone with high productivity can easily get more done in one or two hours than many people can in a full day of work. When you work a standard desk job, productivity often isn’t tracked. When you work for yourself, however, the only thing that matters is results. In this environment, productivity makes a big difference.

Define Productivity

Productivity can be defined as getting as much done in as little time as possible. Being productive also means doing everything that needs to be done with as little stress as possible.

So how do you increase your productivity?

Create Uninterrupted Periods of Work

It’s impossible to be truly productive when you’re constantly being interrupted. If you’re always checking Facebook, emails, taking phone calls and so on, you’re simply not going to be able to get much done.

Work in batches of uninterrupted time. You might work in 50-minute segments, 25-minute segments or whatever amount of segments you find work for you. Block out time during which you don’t take calls and aren’t interrupted at all.

Manage Your Inbox

Your inbox is one of the keys to your productivity. Yet most people pay next to no attention to their inbox management. Your inbox can be digital (your email) as well as physical. Any place where you receive communications or tasks that you’re responsible for can be considered an inbox.

Most people’s inbox management looks something like this. First, they see something land in their inbox. They then either do something with it or not. If not, they try to remember to do something about it later. Their inbox pretty soon piles up until they have dozens, hundreds or even thousands of emails sitting there.

This is no way to run an inbox or a business. Instead, successful people work from a “zero inbox” system. The inbox is a set of tasks that needs to be completed. Every time a task is complete, it’s moved out of the inbox. The email or message is either deleted, filed away or responded to. Nothing stays in the inbox. At the end of each day, the inbox goes back down to zero.

This eliminates dropped balls. It also completely eliminates the stress you experience regarding always feeling like there’s something you’re supposed to be doing.

Schedule Your Time

You’ll find that there are certain times of days when you’re more productive than others. Some people find they do their best work before 7am, while others are late-night owls who only get started at 11 pm. Figure out which schedule works best for you.

If you get in the habit of working in blocks of productive time, get your inbox down to zero daily and schedule the bulk of your work during your peak productivity times, you’ll get a lot more done in a lot less time. You’ll feel less stressed to boot.