I was recently asked if I had any tips on how to be more productive. Being concise and focused are two attributes I’m often praised for. People see my productivity and think, “How did she do that?”. After reviewing my recent productivity trends, I thought it would be a suitable opportunity to share my tips on how to increase your productivity.

Modernize Your Workstyle

One of the things that stops many people from working productively is an unclear workflow. Sometimes there can be a disconnect between what is supposed to be done and how things actually get done. This was the case for the person who asked me the question. We both knew what was needed, but there was no alignment on the process. It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Agile Methodologies and the idea of working backwards from the goal (i.e. behavior-driven development (BDD)) to build the features that would make the product inherently more usable.

If you’ve never worked within an Agile environment, the term “backward” might not mean much to you. BDD is all about breaking down the user’s or customer’s needs into smaller chunks (the “Sprints”) and working on one feature at a time. You should be able to quantify the value you’re adding at each stage and have a clear endpoint in sight. This approach allows for a very high degree of collaboration and product development velocity.

The benefits of BDD are numerous, but include the ability to break down large projects into bite-sized pieces, ensure that a project is thoroughly thought out before starting to code, improve the overall quality of your work, and eliminate unnecessary features.

Collaborate With Customers

Another tip I’ve learned over the years is to never, ever be afraid to ask for help. Even if you think you know what needs to be done, take a step back and see if there’s someone (or someones) who can do it better. You might be surprised by how many times this has saved me and how much simpler my life has been for it. Sometimes it just takes changing how you look at things to see the solution to a problem. A good question can help you see things from a different perspective and get the answer you’re looking for. In the end, everyone benefits, even if it’s just the person who asked the question who realizes they didn’t have all the information they needed.

Focus On The Things You Can Control

Finally, I’d like to talk about something I believe to be within everyone’s control, yet something that often gets in the way of our productivity: our mental state. Too many people let their circumstances (e.g. lack of money, time, or resources) get in the way of them reaching their full potential. If you believe there are certain things in life you’re not in control of (e.g. bad luck, genetics, or fate), then it might be best to focus on the things you can control. This could include changing how you think about certain situations or taking advantage of opportunities that arise. Mental attitude is one of the major factors that determines overall productivity.

While it’s not always easy to pull your mind away from the problems at hand, if you believe there are things you cannot control (i.e. fate, luck, or God), then it might be best to let go and be more mindful about what you can. This could improve your productivity significantly and move you closer to your full potential. Embrace the things you can and let go of the things you cannot.

I’d like to think that these tips on increasing your productivity would not only help Robert Pattinson (the person who asked me the question), but would be useful to anyone else out there who seeks to be more productive. What tips would you share with others to help them become more productive? Let me know in the comments below!