When it comes to getting as much done as you can in a day there are two options: work longer or work smarter.
The increased globalisation of industries plus exponentially improving technologies means that businesses could often be running 24 hours a day, from offices all over the world. In many companies workdays seem to be getting longer and longer in order to accommodate the increasing number of tasks and projects that need completing urgently. However this is having an adverse effect on the quality of life for many employees, who become tired, stressed and ultimately less productive.
Instead of working more and more hours, try working better. Here is a list of ways you can improve productivity during a normal working day, enabling you to work quicker and more efficiently.
1. Organise your email
Keeping on top of your emails is vital to a productive workflow. “Workers spend 41% of each day on email management,” says Graham Allcott. Learning how to manage and prioritise emails that come in is the first step to achieving maximum productivity for the day, leaving as much time as possible for you to tackle the tasks that need doing.
2. Manage your time
It goes without saying, really, but time is of the essence. Create a timetable for your day; block out critical tasks and unavoidable meetings so you can plan ahead. This will mean you can optimise your time and work intuitively; to tackle tasks that you know you can complete in the time before you need to leave your desk again.
3. Take a break
Strange as it may seem, research shows that taking regular breaks is a cornerstone of productivity, which enables you to maintain concentration for longer and sustain an efficient output. Spending hours in the same position at your desk, staring at a screen, makes you slow, sluggish and sleepy. Getting up and moving around, or just looking away from the task at hand for a few minutes, will keep you stimulated and engaged. You could even timetable in specific times when you allow yourself to be distracted, so you can give your brain a rest without losing concentration or breaking your workflow.
Productivity is not measured by the number of hours you sit at a desk, but by how much you get done. Just like your brain slows down if you spend too long on one task, if you find yourself spending 8 hours straight sitting in chair, without moving around at all, you will soon notice that you feel listless and lethargic.
If designated work-out times aren’t your thing, then try allocating certain times of the day to do something as simple as doing a couple of laps of the office. Make sure to take lunch away from your desk, and outside if possible; the fresh air will do your body and mind no end of good, ensuring you are set up for a stimulated, productive afternoon.
5. Stand up for meetings
Meetings can be a massive drain on time. While it may well be tempting to maximise on every networking opportunity you can, the disruption they cause just as you’re getting stuck into a task can really impact on your productivity. Cutting down on meetings altogether would be great, but if a meeting is unavoidable then consider conducting it standing up!
Evidence shows that meetings conducted standing lead to greater focus on the tasks in hand, a more stimulated team dynamic, meaning that agendas are addressed and issues completed efficiently and you can get back to your personal tasks much more quickly.
If this isn’t possible, or your colleagues are more of a traditional bunch, why not try designating certain times, or days of the week, for meetings? Then you can plan ahead and ensure you fit your own tasks around that and do not have to compromise your time.
6. Drink up
It has long been known that water improves brain function and helps you focus much more easily. Equip yourself with a personal water bottle that you can sip from throughout the day, this will keep you hydrated and focused, and also minimise on interruptions caused by having to go and fetch a drink.
7. Do tasks one at a time
While multitasking is often thought to be at the height of productivity, consider creating a to do list in order of priority and then simply working through each task one by one. That way you can focus fully on each task, and by giving it your undivided attention complete it quicker and more efficiently, leaving you to move onto the next one. Tasks are completed better and stress is reduced in the process! If some of the tasks are larger, then break them into multiple smaller tasks.
Which leads neatly onto the next tip…
8. Time Chunking
Switch up bigger, more engaging projects with the tedious repetitive ones that need doing but you really want to be able to leave until later. This will keep you far more stimulated and interested in your work, while ensuring that no task is left undone, thus you will be making the best use of your time during the working day, and minimising the extra hours you will have to put in.
9. Minimise interruptions
If you’re deeply ensconced in a task, even someone knocking on your door to ask if you want coffee can interrupt your productivity and dampen your focus. If you really need to devote all your attention to something, try and keep your office door shut, or even set particular office hours where you say you’d like to not be disturbed unless absolutely necessary.
10. Listen to music
With the burgeoning trend for open plan offices, finding the privacy and solitude to really get stuck into a task is becoming something of an issue.
If you find it difficult to switch off from the background chatter, and really need to immerse yourself in your own world to focus on a project, classical music in particular has been shown to help increase focus and enable productivity, so invest in some quality, noise cancelling headphones and get to work on those playlists.
None of these steps is particularly difficult to implement, but each one can make an enormous difference to your productivity during the day, aiding you in completing tasks and projects efficiently, meaning you can get the most out of your time and achieve the best results.