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11 Practices To Multiply Your Productivity in a Digital World – In Economic Times by Pradeep Chopra

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Thanks to WhatsApp, I woke up 30 minutes early today. I followed it up with checking my mails. Before I could get ready for the office, I was updated about my friends through Facebook twice. Thankfully, I could respond to my Twitter messages on my way to office.

As soon as I reached office, I checked my mails. I forgot to mention about taking care of my SMSes in time while having my breakfast.

Calls with colleagues and friends added to the fun throughout the day. Thanks to my organization that has given access to Social Networks in office, I could continue to be in touch with friends and family on Facebook throughout the day. WhatsApp kept the excitement on even during the meetings.

But wait, the day is almost over and majority of my work for today is pending. No problem, I’ve stamina to stay awake till 1:30 AM. Let me rush back to home. At home, the moment I was reminded of pending work, a thought crossed my mind “how could I not continue the conversations on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, SMS till I sleep?” It’s ok, I will work hard tomorrow and will cover up all the pending tasks.

Does this sound familiar? Let’s consider these statistics:

  1. A study by Ericsson in June 2014 stated that Indians spend over 3 hours daily on smartphones.
  2. Over 25 per cent of Indians check their phone more than 100 times a day.
  3. According to Facebook, the company’s 1.23 billion users log into the site for 17 minutes each day, in total, that’s more than 39,757 years of time collectively spent on Facebook in a single day.
  4. While we feel proud of ourselves as multitaksers, simple interruption such phone call costs over 15 minutes of recovery time due to context switching and much more when we are involved in complex tasks.

Here are 11 useful practices I’ve been able to adapt to make a dramatic shift in my personal productivity:

1. Don’t check your mails till 2 hours into the work: I realized that if I start my day by checking emails then the direction of the day is determined by those mails versus what I plan to do. While it’s highly tempting to check emails the moment you wake up or reach office, I could resist this temptation. This allowed me to have highly productive start of the day.

2. Do the most important and toughest task 1st: I noticed that a lot of energy & time gets wasted if the most important task of the day is not completed. On the other hand, if I’ve completed it then I am really peaceful. Since the most important task requires more focused time, it should ideally be completed first thing in the day else you end up postponing it to next day.

3. Check your mails only thrice a day: These days it’s a standard practice to have your mailbox open across multiple devices with notifications. In fact, most of us take pride in responding to our mails instantaneously. In my experience, it’s one of the most inefficient ways to work, as it never allows you to stay focused on any task. Trust me, you will not miss anything urgent if you check your mails only 2-3 times a day.

Surely, for some profiles (e.g. B2C sales, customer support) this practice is not applicable. Also, it’s recommended that when you check your mails, do reply to the ones you can and need to when you check so that you don’t end up spending more time in checking them again before you reply later.

4. Keep your phone on silent: The discipline you require to check your mails is equally applicable when it comes to checking your calls or SMSes. Remember, it takes 15 minutes to come back to work in hand if interrupted by a phone call.

5. Your phone doesn’t need to have Internet on: Surely, I am not recommending this to save battery of your phone but to save battery of your efficiency.

6. It’s ok to check Social Media only twice a day: I know you don’t want to miss any important message on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn from your friends & family. However, in chasing that you don’t realize how much time you end up wasting when pulled by other interesting but useless messages.

7. Eliminate useless recurring tasks: I am sure that each one of us has strong attachment for some daily tasks, which looks very important but actually doesn’t make any difference. In my case, these daily tasks include checking website traffic on Google Analytics, SEO ranking for relevant keywords, performance of our Adwords campaigns.

These tasks eat up significant time directly and even more indirectly due to context switching. The only reliable way to get rid of these tasks is to think of a structure, which prohibits you in performing these tasks. For e.g., I had to finally unsave passwords for respective properties so that even if I am pulled towards them I have a chance to stay away when they don’t work on first click. Similar structure has been useful in avoiding automatic checking up of social media channels.

8. Chunk vs multi-task: I know most of us take pride in calling ourselves multitaskers. We believe that we are more productive when we are able to perform multiple tasks concurrently. Contrary to our belief, multitasking significantly reduces our productivity in addition to reducing the quality of our work.

I suggest that you divide your work time into batches of 90 minutes with a 15-min break between two batches. According to a research, our brain can focus for 90 minutes before it needs a break.
9. Delegate: While we don’t realize, we are also responsible for reducing the efficiency of our co-workers. How? By not timely delivering what you’ve agreed to provide to others or by not timely delegating what you want from others.
10. Schedule your recurring tasks: While you can go to as much depth in planning & scheduling your tasks, the least you should do is to schedule your recurring tasks in calendar including your personal routines such as paying your credit card bills. You will gain significant peace of mind by this simple approach.
11. Special tip for my entrepreneur friends: One of the habits I have gained significantly from, is staying out of office for regular intervals with my partner Kapil Nakra. While we are still to make this a reliable structure, we intend to spend at least 50% of our time at work outside of office so that we can spend that time on strategic thinking. I have experienced enough that whenever I am in office, I become busy within few minutes even I’ve nothing planned at my end. On the other hand, when we are not in office, performance of other people, whom we are directly managing, only increases. This gain is not just in the short term but also support others grow in their respective accountabilities.
Some of you may be woken up by couple of the above listed practices.

Others might be saying that I know most of these practices and have tried implementing them as well but could not sustain it beyond few days or few weeks.

I can fully relate to your experience. However, I’ve been able to deploy following structures in addition to the recommendations I’d shared above to be able to reliably leverage mentioned practices:
1. 21-day phenomenon: According to Dr. Maxwell Maltz, the original observer of the 21-day phenomenon, the human mind takes at least 21 days to adjust to a major life change. If you are committed to make a dramatic shift in personal productivity, make sure that you don’t miss even a single day in applying the chosen principles. If you miss any day then start again and stay on till day 21st before it becomes your habit.
2. Committed listener: Committed listener is someone who’s committed to your growth and who can hold you to account for your promises.
I found the same in Evan Carmichael, an entrepreneur who nurtures a community of entrepreneurs at and helps them become more successful by mentoring, coaching and sharing insights on variety of aspects including personal productivity. I met him in Feb 2014 at a conference in Malaysia, where we were co-speakers. He inspired me about the opportunity of raising personal productivity to improve my quality of life. I promised to him that I would follow the insights he had shared with me to make a significant difference in my personal productivity and share the same with others around me. That promise to him ensured that I didn’t take my promises to him casually.
Have you used any of these practices to increase your productivity? Is there any other practice you’ve personally used to gain productivity? What are the key challenges you’ve faced in implementing these practices? Share your experiences in the comments below.
If you find this useful then do share this with your friends and colleagues. Trust me, they will love this distraction from you including on Social Media and will thank you for sharing this with them. Finally, if this article helps you increase your productivity, I would love to be distracted by your acknowledgment on Twitter @pradeepchopra.
The author is a serial entrepreneur. He’s the CEO of Digital Vidya, a digital marketing training company. He and his team share insights on digital marketing at
As published in Economic Times.

[Sr. Associate – Content Marketing]

A content passionate, Jasleen handles content writing & marketing activities. Also, she leads Digital Marketing Internship Program. She is in the content writing and marketing fraternity for 6+ years now & is proficient in writing content for blogs, articles, books, brochures and social media. She embraces practical knowledge of WordPress CMS.

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  • There are 3 comments

    • 4 years ago

      Rahul   /   Reply

      friends, nice blog for sharing

    • 3 years ago

      vijay   /   Reply

      surely i will follow all those 11 practices

    • 3 years ago

      Harisumanth Chebrolu   /   Reply

      Hi Pradeep,
      Nice insights on tactics to improve productivity by every individual. I really liked introduction given.
      I will surely follow tactic chunking of tasks and plan to use time on the internet (social media, emails, smartphone) systematically.

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