There are few people in this world who can claim to be 100% productive in the office – mostly because there is always room for improvement. Time management does not come easily to everyone. So, like with many issues, the first step is to admit you have a problem. Admit it, your time management can be better. Your team’s time management can be better. So, get better!
Let’s discuss a few tips for increasing workplace productivity.
- Create a Prioritized To-Do List
One of the most basic ways to keep on track with work tasks is to create a to-do list. After determining what tasks you have coming down the pipe, it’s important that you prioritize the importance of each task. Not only will organizing your work, in this way, help with time management and accountability, but it will allow fewer tasks to slip through the cracks. As soon as a task presents itself, add it to your list – keeping a digital list will allow for easier editing than a list on paper. If you want to get more in-depth, start tracking how long each task takes you to complete. Doing this will help you determine how much you are capable of completing in a day, so you can better prioritize and project more accurate timelines moving forward.
- Make Meetings Actionable
What’s worse than holding a meeting that inspires no action, or spawns no inspiration? Don’t get stuck in a cycle of having superfluous meetings. Before scheduling a meeting, or accepting a meeting invite that you feel might be unnecessary, make sure the following are in place:
- The right people – Don’t include too many people, only those who will be vital to the topic at hand.
- An agenda – This will help keep everyone on topic.
- An appropriate amount of time – Just because your Outlook or Google calendar automatically schedules meetings for an hour doesn’t mean that’s how long your meeting ought to be. Keep your time streamlined by only scheduling as much time is necessary. If it should be a 15 minute meeting, schedule 15 minutes.
Before the meeting begins, make sure you are prepared for discussion. And, before the meeting concludes, hold a quick recap so everyone involved understands the take-away or knows what follow-up actions are expected. Cancel unnecessary meetings.
- Cut Down on Unscheduled Walk-Ups
How often during the day does a colleague visit your desk to ask for help or to chat? Track it for a few days to see how many unexpected interruptions occur during your day – you might be surprised how much time it’s taking away from your work.While it’s great for co-workers to use each other as a resource, it’s important to respect one another’s time and have your time respected, and considered, in return. Not all walk-ups can be avoided, especially if there is an urgent matter, but it is possible to cut down on some of them. One of the most straight-forward ways to cut down walk-ups is to let the “walkers” know you’d prefer that they email you before they walk up, to be sure they aren’t interrupting you. A less direct way to express that you’re deeply involved in a project is to hang a sign at your desk or set a notification in your email or online calendar that you’re not to be disturbed.
- Take Advantage of Your Commute
Commuting can occupy a great deal of your time during the week. So instead of viewing it as a hindrance, consider some ways to make the most of your commute.
- Use it to wake up before work (though hopefully you did that before you got behind the wheel) by listening to music.
- Brainstorm about the tasks on which you are working.
- Practice your upcoming presentation or sales pitch.
- Listen to news radio or podcasts that will benefit your current or upcoming projects.
- Limit Personal Web Surfing
If you work on a computer, it’s likely that you will perform non-work related searches at some point during your day. Sometimes you need that break from tasks and meetings to refresh your brain; it can even be a healthy trick for your sanity and stress level. However, the amount of time you spend on personal activity on the web should be limited – you are getting paid to do your job and not find the latest, greatest paleo recipe, right? Not only does this include limiting the amount of time you spend surfing the web for personal reasons, but also limiting your personal chats, emails, and social media activity. If you can’t regulate your time on your own, use a tool such as StayFocused, a free Chrome browser extension.
One of the keys to improving workplace productivity is to be efficient. To be efficient, you need to be organized and streamlined. The tips outlined above are all designed to help make the most of your time during the work day. Get organized, get focused, STAY focused, and become efficient and productive.
Do you use any techniques to increase your workplace productivity? If so, please share them in the comments!