Productivity is something that nearly everyone wants to be able to improve. But what does it really take to increase your productivity?

Here are 10 ideas to increase your productivity.

1. Work when you’re most effective

Everyone has times of the day when they are more efficient. They also have times of the day when they tend to drag their feet. If you want to maximize your effectiveness throughout the day you need to identify your peak hours.

Once you’ve identified those hours, it’s time to optimize your schedule. The tasks that require the most concentration need to be taken care of when you’re at your best.

Let’s say you work in sales. Your more remedial tasks are probably prospecting and email outreach. Your most important tasks are those sales calls. If you tend to drag in the mornings, you should spend the first half of your day building lists and scheduling out emails. Then after lunch it’s time to hit the phone and sell sell sell baby!

2. Chop down your to do list

To do lists are a great way to document what needs to get done in your day. The problem is, many people tend to add every possible task throughout their day to the list. Let me put it like this, if your to do lists start to look like CVS receipts then it’s a big problem.

If you have trouble justifying a certain task after it’s written down, then you should probably get rid of it. In general you should try and chop down your to do list as much as possible. In fact it’s often a good idea to use your calendar as a substitute. This way, you can write down your top 3 – 5 most important tasks of the day and avoid spending time jotting down useless jobs.

3. Get the least enjoyable things done first

Everyone gets tasked with items they don’t want to do. Whether you’re filling out a spreadsheet or typing up a 10 page progress report, it’s hard to motivate yourself to get it done. The more you put these tasks off, the worse it’s going to be when it comes time to get it done.

The best thing to do is to get your least enjoyable tasks finished early. That way, you have the rest of your day to look forward to. This will help keep you energized and motivated to finish out each and every workday.

4. Set daily goals

It’s important to set goals for yourself. Goals help us work towards those things we ultimately want in life. Whether it’s a million bucks or a new car, it’s a great way to keep yourself motivated.

Goals don’t always have to be so far down the road though. In fact, it’s important to set smaller goals for yourself that can serve as a progress check. Every night, you should set a few daily goals for the next day. It’s okay if they’re trivial, just make sure accomplishing them brings you one step closer to success.

5. Cease communication

When it’s time to really buckle down and focus sometimes you need to cease communication entirely. Unfortunately in this day and age, we have a thousand different ways to communicate with one another. Whether it’s email, slack, social media, or the 10 other messaging apps you use it’s time to turn them off.

6. Batch tasks together

Whether you’re a freelancer working on five different projects or a manager overseeing three different teams, we all have multiple things pulling away our attention. If you want to get everything done efficiently you should always try to batch your time to complete similar tasks.

Let’s say you’re a freelancer who specializes in web design. You’re working on touching up your own website by adding a few projects to your portfolio. At the same time you’re finishing up another client’s website and you also have to send out a few invoices. This is a perfect opportunity to batch your tasks.

Set aside a certain number of hours to complete each task and be very disciplined in not getting distracted. If you work like this, you’ll get things done much more efficiently.

7. Set a timer

Time limits help us concentrate and work much more effectively. The next time you have a job that you think is going to take you hours, start it off by setting a 30-minute timer. Work as hard as you can for those 30 minutes and then once it goes off check your progress. You’re going to be pleasantly surprised what you can accomplish in just half an hour when you’re truly focused.

8. Set targets for yourself

When you work in a larger organization your deliverables are typically more concrete. That said, everyone can still use a little extra motivation to get the job done. One strategy you can use is to set targets for yourself. If you’re a writer, you can shoot for a certain number of words written each day. If you’re an engineer, you can measure by lines of code. Whatever it is, you should always set targets and do your best to hit them every day.

9. Use the Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle states that 20% of your work will yield 80% of the biggest results. That basically means a lot of the time you spend is not getting you closer to your ultimate goals.

Do your best to always evaluate how you spend your time and try to cut out those unnecessary tasks.

10. Delegate your work

If you’re somebody who likes to be in control and take on responsibility, it’s often difficult to unload certain tasks onto others. While it may be tough it’s a really important skill to have. If you’re tasked with a job that’s better fit for another member of the team you need to delegate that task. In fact, being able to delegate is one of the most important management skills you can have.