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Ever experience that feeling of arriving at work, sitting in your workstation, but finding it difficult to start or even complete tasks? A lot of us have definitely been there. There are only so many hours in the day and making great use of your time in the office is critical, especially when there are important tasks that need to be completed. Most workers would definitely love to be productive at work, but it’s certainly easier said than done.
While we’d rather have a productive day at work, it can be challenging due to factors such as bad habits and other distractions. These can impede our workplace productivity and instead of making progress with our office goals, we end up running away from the tasks that we’re supposed to do. It might sound like there’s no hope in changing these habits. But fret not, for there are small ways that can help improve productivity at work. We’ve rounded up some efficient habits that you can start and develop to increase your productivity at work and allow you to work smarter. Check them out!
What Does It Mean to Be Productive?
Being productive at work entails numerous things. Completing more tasks than necessary on your to-do list or staying past your work hours doesn’t exactly mean that you’re being more productive. If you think about it, it just means that you’re incredibly busy, and productivity shouldn’t be equated with being busy.
Productivity means achieving effective results in as short an amount of time as possible and leaving you with more time that you can enjoy freely. Being productive is to work smarter and not harder. When you’re productive, it means that you’ve refined your process, sped up your workflow, and effectively reduced the distractions surrounding you.
It may seem complicated to increase productivity, especially if you have no methods of organization and the like. However, by making simple adjustments in your work environment, you can begin to see great benefits and changes.
How Can I Be More Productive at Work?
Productivity Tips to Help You Maximize Your Efficiency
More and more distractions have started appearing in our daily lives. Distractions can make it challenging to stay focused and finish important projects in an effective and efficient manner. This doesn’t mean, though, that it’s impossible to avoid them. Aside from minimizing your distractions, you can also stay productive by developing and applying some ground rules for yourself when you’re at work. Here are some productivity tips that can help you out. Feel free to try and see which one works best for you!
Some people pride themselves with being able to juggle numerous tasks at once. But in reality, multitasking is a productivity killer. According to research, multitasking may actually physically harm the brain as it creates numerous mental blocks when people switch tasks. It’s even suggested that “multitasking” is misnamed as no person is actually doing two things at the same time. Instead, you’re rapidly switching your focus between a multitude of things.
Every time you switch, you have to re-focus on the new task. And since it takes a couple of minutes to fully absorb a task, switching between them in a rapid manner can make multitasking extremely inefficient. When you try to do all the tasks at once, it also affects your emotional control, decision-making abilities, empathy, and the brain’s response to rewards.
Instead of multi-tasking, you can make a habit of focusing on one task at a time, allowing you to complete it faster, and then you can move on to your next project.
Learn to Prioritize Tasks
In line with avoiding multitasking, here’s another productivity hack that you can learn and develop. In Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, one chapter is dedicated to a subject in which he calls putting “first things first.” This means that in any to-do list at work, some tasks are more important than others. A lot of workers are more focused on simply checking off the tasks on their to-do list and when that happens, employees tend to end up with a mix of important and less important tasks completed.
With the priority of your tasks mixed up, you end up being exposed to procrastination as it seems easier to tackle the less-important to-dos than do the hard stuff. A better way to increase your productivity at work is to identify at least one to three of the most important tasks of each day. These are the tasks that, no matter what, you need to finish before your day ends.
Some people call this method of identifying the hardest tasks and getting it out of the way first as “eating the frog.” By prioritizing tasks and eating the frog the first thing, it can help in increasing productivity, as well as time efficiency.
Set Small Goals
This productivity tip works hand-in-hand with prioritizing tasks. Sometimes, looking at our to-do lists can be daunting. When you see numerous tasks listed, you might feel overwhelmed and procrastinate instead. Since you have now learned to identify the most important task in front of you, it’s time to know how to handle those big projects. To reduce feeling stressed and overwhelmed, you can break it up into smaller tasks and objectives.
When you finish one part of a big specific task, you’ll feel more in control and will be much more productive. By breaking it into small tasks, this will allow you to be on track in your day-to-day and make those big projects less daunting. You can also use these small, short objectives as milestones in measuring your progress through the entire day.
Stop Adding Things to Your To-Do List
To-do lists can be a good thing as they allow you to stay organized and know the tasks that you have to tackle for the day. However, if there are too many items in your list and you keep adding to it as the day goes on, it can feel daunting and exhaustive as you may feel like your list is endless. There are a couple of things that you can do so that you don’t stress yourself and overbook your time at work.
One is to dedicate time in preparing your list for the next work day. In other words, you won’t have to waste time at the start of your workday curating what tasks you need to do when you’ve prepared them beforehand. When you’re prepared with your list, you can start right away with figuring which tasks are the most important and which tasks can be bumped down.
Another thing that you can do is schedule your tasks instead. By planning and mapping them out, you can put a timing to each task, allowing you to create space for the important tasks and prioritize wiser. Doing this can give you peace of mind and freedom as you’ll no longer feel that your list is never-ending.
Staying committed to your daily tasks allows you to put your focus on them, therefore maximizing your own productivity. When you’ve gotten the hang of scheduling your tasks, you’ll also find that you’ll be able to plan your work for the next week and so on, and you can even create back-up plans if anything goes wrong.
As what it says on the tin, distractions surround us from almost every corner at work and they greatly interrupt your workflow and productivity. While we’ve figured out the important things we need to focus on to increase productivity, it’s also important to identify the distractions that demand our attention. These disturbances are almost always sitting right in front of us, and due to that, it’s easy to reach out and pay attention to them instead of the task at hand.
To be more productive, you need to shoo away disturbances. The most common forms of these distractions are your phone, notifications, social media, and even your own email. It might be difficult to minimize distractions. But it’s highly important to do so. In fact, it’s as important as managing your time. You can shut off your notifications — this includes chats, Twitter, text messages, email — and instead set certain times that you allow yourself to check them.
You can set two specific times in a day when you can check your notifications, instead of checking them as they come in. When you answer phone calls every other moment or take a look at your phone at every ping, you’ll find yourself spending time scrolling your screen and wasting time instead of being productive. You can put your phone in a place where it won’t tempt you to look at it every second, such as your desk drawer. By hiding your distractions, you can stay focused on the task that you have to work on.
Take Regular Breaks
It sounds counterintuitive but taking breaks can actually help improve your concentration and aid you in being more productive at work. No person on earth can work and focus on a task for eight hours straight, no matter how many efficient habits you build. Taking breaks can help recharge and refresh your mind, boosting your creative juices to come up with more ideas.
Do note that you have to be proactive when you take breaks. Therefore, it’s also important that you schedule your breaks. It can be easy to justify using distractions as taking a break, especially if you don’t have a break time that’s scheduled.
By scheduling breaks after working intensely for a specific amount of time, you can keep yourself fresh and productive throughout the day. A short break every 55 minutes of work can be ideal. You can also make use of the Pomodoro Technique which suggests 25-minute blocks of work with short 5 to 10-minute breaks in between.
Time Block Your Schedule
Speaking of blocks of work, using time blocks within your schedule can also aid in improving work productivity. Using this strategy, you’ll need to set a time limit for each of the tasks that you work on. You can consider doing 90-minute or 60-minute time blocks. The purpose of these blocks is to dedicate your energy to working on only one task for each block of time, making you more likely to complete it in the time frame you scheduled for it.
This time management technique works well together with planning your to-do list, prioritizing your tasks, getting you to focus deeply, helps you become more aware of how you spend your time, and pushes you to follow through with your goals. As you finish within your time frame, you also allow yourself to have a refresher start to new projects earlier. To keep track of your time blocks and exactly gauge how much time you’re spending on various tasks, you can use a tool such as Rescue Time or Toggl.
Create a System for Common Tasks
A number of your tasks at work can be quite repetitive and the moment you find doing the same things to be tedious, it may end up hampering your ability to be productive at work. Instead, try to look for ways to do your repetitive tasks in a faster, smarter manner, allowing you to save time and energy. Any repetitive task is a great candidate for shortcuts, delegation, or automation.
For example, you can group similar activities such as writing tasks, note-taking, answering questions, or planning sessions. These are all related and intertwined, allowing your brain to streamline the process and arrive at your goal point faster. If you’re someone who holds a position in the company and has people working in a team with you, you can try delegating tasks to your team members to boost employee productivity overall.
Break up Work Periods With Exercise
Numerous studies have shown that physical activity enhances brain function, effectively making a person more productive. Additionally, research has also shown that sitting for long periods and staying in one position can contribute to a host of health issues. While you might find it hard to hit the gym before or after work, fret not, for you can still get your exercise on even during work hours. You don’t even have to leave your workstation to do exercises.
Similar to taking regular breaks, taking exercise breaks at work even for a few minutes is highly important as well. When you incorporate and encourage more movement as your day goes on, it helps in improving your posture, reducing stress hormones, clearing your mind, increasing productivity, having a better mental performance, and improving your overall well-being. You’ll also find that you’ll experience less body aches and pains, allowing you to have a better quality of life.
There are a ton of exercises that you can do while you’re at your desk. You can try incorporating stretches, doing desk aerobic exercises, doing leg exercises to improve your blood flow, and more. You can also keep a few portable fitness equipment at your desk that you can use even while you’re doing phone calls or sitting in meetings.
Get Enough Sleep
It’s common these days for people to be proud about their lack of sleep. But in reality, it’s definitely not anything to brag about. Sleep deprivation comes with several negative effects that not only affect your performance at work but also on your health. When you lack sleep, a number of your brain’s functions are decreased, including concentration, working memory, mathematical capacity, and logical reasoning. All these can definitely lead you to a roadblock in finishing your task at hand.
If you aren’t taking care of your health and yourself, then any method that you use to improve your productivity won’t be much help at all. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that adults aged 26 to 64 should get about seven to nine hours of sleep a night. If you aren’t hitting seven hours, you may take a quick nap during the day to recharge and it could be beneficial to your productivity.
Whether you’re a morning person or a night owl when it comes to work, any of these productivity tips can help you stay on the road of your short and long-term priorities. Keep in mind that not every day will be perfectly productive, but don’t beat yourself up over it. Instead, refocus your thoughts and energy and implement any of these tips.
If doing only one of them makes sense for you in an efficient manner, then that is more than fine. If multiple things work for you, that’s more than good as well. You’ll be amazed at how productive you can be both at work and out of it.
Looking for more productivity tips that can recharge you while you work? You can try your hand at these brain exercises to keep your mind engaged, or maybe try to do some breathing exercises to reduce your stress levels. Check them out!