You’re sitting at your desk with a dozen emails to reply to, an entire to-do list to check off and an afternoon of meetings to attend. How do you get it all done, especially when you only have a handful of hours in a day? You just have to work a little smarter.
There are several useful ways you can increase your productivity during work. Here are six suggestions to get you started.
1. Manage Your Time Better
A lot of us know that we could be more organised. If you find that you’re rushing to meet deadlines or can’t remember to call a client back, calendars and to-do lists are going to become your best friends.
Take a look at this list of online applications from PCMag that you can use to keep track of your day-to-day. If you prefer to write information down, purchase a planner or notebook. Make sure it’s only used for work-related matters, as you’ll want to keep personal to-dos separate. It might be useful to create two different lists – one for the new tasks you’ll complete each day and one for future projects for another day.
By following a to-do list, you’ll find which tasks or projects end up taking too long, and you’ll feel accountable to complete them in a timely fashion. Some work should only take us a few minutes but ends up taking longer as we get distracted or bored.
A great way to prevent this from happening is to set estimated time slots. Pencil in 15-minute blocks at the start, middle and end of your day to conduct smaller tasks. This will help you stay focused on what needs to get done.
2. Have a Quiet Workspace
Can’t focus at your desk or in your office? You can easily make a few improvements that will boost your ability to concentrate. Invest in some noise-cancelling headphones, bring in a white noise machine or even sound-proof the place.
Constant chatter and noise can be extremely distracting. If you happen to work remotely, choose a dedicated work area in your house. Even better, visit a shared workspace or coffee shop to switch up your environment. This does wonders for your productivity.
3. Choose Meetings Carefully
You probably could have gotten the gist of your previous meeting by reading a detailed email. If you’re having a particularly busy day, only attend meetings that are absolutely necessary.
You can also suggest that you and your colleagues meet over the phone or video chat. By cutting down on meetings, you’ll stay away from unproductive discussions and pay more attention to your work.
4. Work in Intervals
It’s almost impossible to work productively all day long. Our body works in cycles already – think your circadian rhythm – so it makes sense that breaking up the workday is better for productivity.
The Pomodoro technique is ideal for when you want to make the most of your allotted hours. Set a timer and work on the same project until the timer goes off. Then, take a small break to regroup. Repeat. You’ll find that you get more done and avoid that dreaded afternoon slump.
5. Turn Off Notifications
Many of us need to break the habit of checking our phones and emails every five minutes. According to the Harvard Business Review, alerts can distract you and ruin your focus. Seeing a new email pop up in your inbox makes you instantly want to drop everything and click on it. In this scenario, what you don’t know won’t hurt you.
Turn off your notifications and only check your devices every few hours. Of course, you’ll want to respond to anything that needs your immediate attention. You can choose to filter your notifications if you need to, which allows only specific senders and topics to pop up. You’ll stay focused but won’t have to worry about missing anything important.
6. Take Advantage of Free Time
Allocating periods of rest throughout your workday is vital for enhanced productivity. You’ll want to give your brain some time off to make sure you don’t burn out before the day is over. Conversely, you may want to use your free periods to conduct small tasks, like sorting emails or rearranging your calendar.
If you find yourself stuck in line to grab lunch, waiting for an appointment or in another situation where you don’t have anything else to do, these small tasks could be a great use of your time. This way, you won’t find yourself in the middle of a project with a bunch of little things to accomplish.
Increased Performance, Here You Come
Take note of these suggestions, and you’ll be on your way to a more focused and productive workday.
Minimise distractions, get organised and take breaks – these are the keys to working smarter instead of harder. As you start to check those items off your to-do list, you’ll thank yourself for making these changes.
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