The purpose of this article is to provide useful tips to help you maximise personal productivity at work so that you become more efficient and perform at your best in the workplace.
Effective ways to increase productivity at work
Almost everyone I encounter these days feels that there is too much work to handle and not enough time to get it all done. And most of them are to some degree frustrated and perplexed about how to improve the situation. So, here are some tips on how to boost productivity and become much more efficient at work.
Value and protect your time at work to boost your productivity
Productivity has a relation with how much time you take to finish specific activities. So, if you are serious about increasing your productivity at work, you must guard your time as you would preserve your gold.
Here are some suggestions on how to manage your time to maximise productivity at work-
Know the actual per hour value of your time to do what’s essential and off-load the rest
Things seldom go as per your planned schedule at the workplace. A lot of times you have to put your schedule task aside to do something more formidable. Thus, a big part of being productive at work comes from identifying which activities are worth doing and which ones are not. So, know the worth of your time by assigning a price value to it.
Do this to gain clarity on those time-consuming activities that you should eliminate or reduce from your schedule. Furthermore, whenever you have to be selective about tasks, you can weigh the hourly cost of your time against the potential reward from the activity you are considering to undertake and avoid doing things that waste your time
Speed up decision making and communication process to save time and improve productivity.
Decision making often takes up a huge part of the workday for a lot of executives and managers in India. A majority of mental capacity, focus, and attention go at making and communicating decisions. So ensure that you take efficient measures and use pragmatic strategies to avoid wasting time in the decision-making process.
Reduce the negative effects of analysis paralysis in the decision making process and make your communication more efficient
Use technology to increase your working speed and finish work quickly
Let’s be honest. You often do not have enough time to do everything you have to do. The various workplace scenarios demand that you do more number of things in lesser time. So, you must use technology at work to automate your tasks and become super productive in the organisation
Here are a few tips on how you can use technology to increase your productivity at work:
- Use speech-to-text utility on your phone and laptop, because speaking is faster than typing and clicking.
- Set up custom gestures on your phone to speed up the repetitive tasks, and use text expansion to stop typing the same phrases over and over.
- Create email rules to save time whilst reading & sorting through email.
- Use utility software to schedule meetings, and eliminate the bulk of back-and-forth scheduling emails.
so on and so forth.
There are several automation templates, organisation apps, widgets and tools available in the market that can easily help you improve productivity in the workplace and avoid the waste of time.
Develop a personal system of working and stick with it for maximising your productivity.
In other words, discipline yourself and get more organised to improve your efficiency and increase your productivity at the workplace.
Consider the following tips to manage your actions-
Make front-end decisions about all the tasks and pieces of information you let into your life to become more focussed and organised
Often, mailboxes overflow with updates, reports, transactional emails, and lot more material that anyone could digest in a day. So, develop a systematic method for dealing with the daily influx of mail to control the information overload. This way, you will have a better plan for what you need to do next.
Here’s the process you can use-
Whenever a new task, information, or self-generated idea comes your way, ask and answer the following questions-
- Is it useful or helpful in any way? Determine if the information or task is potentially beneficial or/and needed for achieving the long-term and short-term objectives.
- Is It Actionable? Check if it is possible to implement the idea and that you are the right person to do the work.
- Is it critical? Ascertain if the action is to be taken immediately, or later in the future.
Your answer to these questions will guide your way forward. Based on how you are placed, you can either choose to do the task and finish it at that very moment, delegate it to someone else, or defer it.
On a side note, ensure that you take the next immediate action required to move the task towards completion. And in case you are going to do the task later, consider writing down on your ‘to-do’ list .
Set daily targets and track your progress every day to be more focussed and efficient
Schedule and prioritise your day-to-day activities in advance. This will keep you in the mood to work on tasks, and finish the work in time.
Not many people plan and track their day-to-day activities. Consequently, they fail to take corrective actions in the nick of time.
Successful executives and leaders on the other hand plan their daily activities in advance, go through the day as per the plan, and also measure the performance at the end of the day. By doing so, they get a clear sense of what’s stopping them from achieving peak performance at work.
When you are able to identify what roadblocks are causing you to slowdown at work, you can remove them to maximise your performance and productivity at workplace.
So, spend some time to set your daily goals and monitor your progress. Give yourself short-term deadlines to get things done.
Plan your daily targets in advance, either at the beginning of the day or as the last thing in the day to prepare for the next day. At night, and review and reflect on how you have done on that day. This will give you a brief understanding of the areas you need to focus on for increasing your productivity at work.
Review the task list weekly to become more effective at work
Examine and update your ‘to-do’ lists periodically. Otherwise, you might forget some work or miss an important deadline.
World over, successful leaders and managers reflect on their task lists regularly. As a result, they can make better plans and more effective schedules.
So, revisit your schedule and planned tasks at least once a week to become more effective and increase productivity at work. Take out time to view the notes, and figure out the agendas and priorities.
Create blocks of prime time for maximising productivity
Figure out the time segments when you can concentrate on critical tasks without any interruption so that you can further increase your productivity at work. Keep this prime-time block sacred. Do those tasks at this time which require intense focus and concentration. Schedule all other less important administrative chores are outside of this prime-time block.
Maintain high energy levels to stay super productive throughout the day.
Has it ever happened with you that you felt a little exhausted or tired after a meeting and then you did not have enough energy left to go through the pending emails in the inbox?
As human beings, we have a limited reservoir of our energy and it’s difficult to maintain peak energy level throughout the day.
In tune with this point, some of the ways through which you can avoid job burnout and keep up your energy levels at work are listed below
Schedule and take on tasks keeping your energy levels in consideration
Fit your schedule to your physical, mental, and emotional energy levels to finish more tasks. For example: Work on critical tasks when you are fresh and most energetic
Use your productive energy in intense, short bursts of time
Do not work too hard for too long without any break. According to research, the optimal period for working with intense concentration is 90-120 minutes. After that time, the body needs a break of 2-5 minutes to induce biological changes that re-energise you
Adopt better eating habits and lifestyle choices
You can maintain your energy levels throughout the day by incorporating better habits in life. Use bio hacks. Eat light and right. Further, ensure that you get a good night’s sleep every night. And, meditate every day.
Manage your emotions to improve your performance and productivity in the workplace
Every day is a different day. There are times when you may feel bored, out of the flow, or irritated at work. These un-resourceful emotions cause a significant drop in productivity over time.
Regulating emotions at play, therefore, becomes very important in such situations at work.
If you want to continue being highly productive at work, you need to learn the effective ways of managing your emotions efficiently. When your emotions are balanced, your level of productivity is high.
Here are some useful tips for regulating emotions to overcome stress and become more productive at the workplace
Keep your commitments down to a finite, manageable number
Ensure that your to-do list is doable. Too many open loops of commitments may cause overwhelm. So it’s always a good idea to have a manageable to-do list, and politely say no wherever required.
Aim for significant incremental improvements in personal productivity at work
Keep your goals in mind, and make small progress each day. Don’t try to move the mountain in one single go. Instead, take tiny baby steps that require little effort but yield big results.
For example, work on reducing your report writing time by 10% every day. Aim to add 10% more productive hours to your schedule every week. Read at least 1 good article every day on whatever topics you deal with regularly in your work.
Break the monotony, and inject variety in your schedule to have more enthusiasm for work
As much as possible, do tasks in the order that pleases you. The reason is that focusing on tasks you don’t want to do is emotionally challenging. Pick tasks according to your enthusiasm level. And delegate the work you find uninteresting, distasteful, or boring so that you have more time, energy and enthusiasm left over to utilise for other tasks.
When you feel tired, or you run out of ideas on one project, just switch to another. However, if a deadline is looming, and you don’t have the choice of putting aside the work you don’t want to do, then do something that will help you revitalise. For example, take a walk, wash your face, run an errand, etc. Take a break for a few minutes, and get back to work.
And in case you feel as if you are stuck in the rut at work, then break your daily routine by doing something new. For example, volunteer to participate in activities that you like. A lot of companies organise Thank God It’s Friday, Beat the Monday Blues, and similar employee engagement activities. Actively participate in those activities for a mini change.
Become more resilient and flexible to increase productivity at work
Develop the ability to get your focus back in the work as and when you sense that you are starting to feel out of control, stressed out, unfocused, bored, or stuck.
Distractions are a common thing at the workplace. You can never get a work environment with absolutely no distraction.
Those executives who have more resilient and flexible as compared to others, can get back into the productive states of mind quickly, and handle workplace challenges easily when things don’t go as planned. They do not over-react or under-react in any way.
Resilience and flexibility are thus the keys to becoming more productive at the workplace.
Keep your workspace clutter-free for maximum efficiency and productivity
Keeping workspace clean and orderly always pays off in increased efficiency. It allows you to concentrate on the task at hand in a better way. So, keep the workspace more organised.
Check out the following tips on the actions you can take to be more organised and increase productivity at workplace-
- Keep things in their appropriate space, and keep them in the same place every time.
- Use bulletin boards to put tasks, papers, lists, project schedules, and priority items in constant view.
- Do not acquire a book, DVD, magazine, white-paper, or any reference material unless you need it.
- Maintain a proper filing system to save information on relevant or interesting topics.
- Spend a few minutes every week on cleaning out the junk you had saved, but you don’t need. Organise your desk drawer, your laptop home screen, your folders, etc.