How to Be More Productive at Work
The daily grind doesn’t have to be something that you dread. You can step up your game to reach your goals. All it takes is a little practice and introducing a few simple habits into your life to be more productive at work.
- Take regular breaks: It seems counterintuitive, but taking regular breaks can help you come to new conclusions by stepping away from the task at hand. Psychologists have found that our brains work similarly to our bodies. It’s difficult to maintain a high level of productivity over extremely long periods of time. Scientists suggest taking short designated breaks every 90 minutes to recharge your mind to keep moving full steam ahead. During your breaks, get up from your desk and get moving. Take a walk to get the blood moving again and to get a change of scenery.
- Self-imposed deadlines: A small amount of stress is good for us. It pushes us to complete the task in a timely manner. Set realistic goals for yourself, but also don’t be afraid to push the limits just a little bit.
- Create daily schedules: Assign limits to the amount of time you spend on one task. For example, allot 30 minutes in the morning to check emails, then one hour for finishing up paperwork, etc. This helps you not get stuck on one task, never reaching the other 5 tasks that also need some attention. It’s ok if you don’t complete the task in one day. Making smaller achievements over time will help you stay on target with all of the demands of your job.
- Limit meetings: Meetings can be a major time suck. Before you schedule your meeting, make sure it’s not something that can be handled through a phone call or an email. There are times when it is important to discuss plans face-to-face, but don’t let it consume your entire day. If you do conduct a meeting, have a standing meeting. Standing meetings are exactly what they sound like—everyone stands. This will help keep everyone on point to prevent meetings from dragging on.
- Quit multitasking: It’s a common misconception that multitasking will lead to high productivity. Science has proven that theory wrong. Psychologists have found that people are better at monotasking. Our minds are able to completely hone in on one task instead of having our minds race while attempting to tackle each task. Multitasking can lead to more mistakes and less creativity to find new solutions. Block out time to address each task that needs to be accomplished.
- Be proactive, not reactive: When you allow calls and emails to dictate your day, you only accomplish putting out fires instead of the goals you set. Those things are still important, but set aside time in the day to handle them. This can also help with managing stress. You are no longer anticipating another interruption, and can dedicate the time wholly to the task at hand.
- Minimize interruptions: Along with turning off email notifications and setting the phone aside for a time, you also need to minimize any other interruptions. It’s nice to chat with a co-worker, but a 5 minute conversation with several people can soon become an hour gone. Make time during breaks to have your chats, but when you’re at your desk, make sure it’s known that it’s not a good time to talk. You don’t have to be rude, but keep the door closed when you can, or put a simple note up letting people know about your office hours.
- Defeat procrastination: If something will take you 2 minutes to handle, then handle it right then and there. It will take you more time to come back to it. Odds are that if you put off a task, you will forget about it, and it will create more trouble for the future. Before you leave for the day, create a short to-do list for the next day with identifiable action items. Don’t make open ended to-do’s that are difficult to complete, such as “plan event.” Instead, break down the overall goal to manageable items, such as “book caterers for event.” The task will not look as overwhelming and you’ll be more likely to tackle it.
Try implementing one or two of these new habits at a time so that they become part of your daily routine. You can build upon them, becoming more and more productive over time. Go out there and be proud to bring home the bacon! You’ll see that a new promotion is just within reach.