Now more than ever, companies are pushing their employees to work harder, better and smarter. In effect, many employees are drowning in work, are overwhelmed, less productive and don’t know which task to handle first.
If this scenario sounds familiar to you, then it’s time for our top tips and some easy-to-implement ideas you might find useful.
1. Get organized
Where are last month’s progress reports? If you’re disorganized, it’s likely that you’ll spend too much time searching for things you need. So the heart of any good productivity plan is good personal organization. Set aside a day or even a weekend to go through your PC or laptop and organize files and folders, get rid of information or programs you no longer need, and clean up your workspace. Not only is it mentally refreshing, you’ll be amazed at how much time and frustration you’ll save when you know exactly where to find that elusive progress report.
2. Identify and eliminate distractions
While ringing telephones and chatty colleagues are a regular part of office life, learn to identify when they’re getting in the way of your work. While some people can function perfectly well with noise and activity all around them, others find that even the gentle hum of a fan wrecks their concentration. If you’re the latter kind of person, don’t be shy about getting the peace you need to do your work properly. Retreat with your laptop to a quiet conference room, try noise-canceling headphones, or work from home if it’s feasible and less distracting.
3. Get plenty of rest
When your to-do list is three pages long, taking a break may sound counter-intuitive. However, you can’t work efficiently if your brain and body are exhausted — and working to exhaustion can create serious long-term health problems. So make sure you get sufficient sleep every night, and take short breaks during the work day. Even a ten-minute walk can revive you, reduce stress levels and improve your concentration.
4. Prioritize and delegate
Without some idea of which tasks are most important and require the most effort, you may lurch from project to project and waste time that could be better spent focusing elsewhere. So as part of your “getting organized” process, make a list of all the tasks you have to complete on a daily basis and rank them in order of importance. Then, decide how much time realistically needs to be spent on each one, and try to stick to that schedule each day. You may also want to evaluate which, if any, of those tasks could be done by someone else. Maybe an employee or colleague has more time or is better suited to the task. Effective delegation isn’t necessarily about dumping work on someone else — it’s just about efficiency.
5. Talk less; do more
Do you spend a lot of your working time in meetings? Meetings are often unproductive and consume essential hours of the day that could be used to do actual work. If this is the case, simply stop holding those meetings or postpone them to a day when you do not have so many deadlines looming on the horizon.
6. Reading isn’t action
You’re currently reading an article about how to be more productive at work. Well, reading about it also keeps you away from tackling your tasks. Now, let this be the last one and get to work!