Always feel like you’re so busy at work? Bust the nine-to-five rut with these productivity boosting tips.
Being more productive at work actually starts outside the office. Your body gives you the energy to succeed, so you can’t expect to perform at the highest level without showing it a little respect. Before embarking on a productivity drive make sure you’re getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and maintaining a decent diet.
It’s impossible to stay on top of long-term projects, life commitments and the myriad of tasks that pop up every day without mastering the humble to-do list. A to-do list helps to prioritise work based on what’s most important or pressing, and lets you focus on the task at hand without the nagging feeling you’ve forgotten something.Plus, crossing stuff off a list feels pretty good. Make sure to set aside some time at the start of each day to dump everything that’s cluttering your brain onto a piece of paper, a to-do list app, word document, or whatever system you prefer. This will set you up to take control of your tasks.
We’ve all had to deal with that person who’s always five minutes late to a meeting and is constantly in a state of mild panic about something they’ve forgotten to do. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Just set aside five minutes before you leave the office to prepare for the next day. Go through the calendar, print out any documents you’ll need for meetings, shoot off a quick note to confirm those lunch plans and get out of there. Simple, really, and you’ll sleep better too knowing there won’t be any surprises when you wake up.
Parkinson’s Law says that ‘work expands to fill the time available for its completion’. In other words, if you have a whole day to finish a project it will take a day, but if it’s due by lunchtime you’ll magically manage to get it done. The psychological effect of working under pressure can actually improve productivity, so set enforceable deadlines to force yourself to work more efficiently.
A modern office is so full of distractions, sometimes it can seem like the world is conspiring against you getting any actual work done. There’s the constant barrage of emails, phone calls and meetings, relentless banter echoing through the open plan desks and your mates texting about dinner plans for tomorrow night too. If you want to improve productivity, you have to learn to ban these distractions. That could mean buying a pair of noise cancelling headphones, taking your laptop to a meeting room for some peace and quiet or working from home to focus exclusively on the task at hand.
If you’re spending all day rushing from meeting to meeting you’re doing something wrong. Attending meetings for the sake of it is a drain on productivity and doesn’t make sense, so go through the diary and work out which are actually adding value and which are a waste of time.
Picking up the phone instead of shooting off an email can do wonders for productivity. If you don’t understand something on the phone, it’s easy to just ask for clarification. On email, it’s far easier to misinterpret an instruction or question and maybe even act on the wrong understanding. Plus, on the phone there’s an answer straight away instead of having to wait for hours for someone to get back to you, only to find that they haven’t answered the original question at all.
Taking regular breaks during work to recharge the batteries will actually boost productivity over the course of the day. And make sure to reward yourself when you reach a milestone or finish a task. Whether it’s a lunchtime workout or a short walk around the block, having something to work towards is a great motivator.
Finally, and most importantly, a positive attitude is sometimes all it takes to be more productive at work. Let’s face it, moping at your desk thinking about how much you hate your job is not conducive to getting things done. You might be surprised at what can be achieved just by being optimistic and seeing the good in things, so why not give it a shot?