Ever reached the end of a day feeling dissatisfied with how much you actually did?
You may decide to put in extra hours the next day to catch up. But the same thing happens the next day… and the next, and the next. Before you know it, you’re face-to-face with your manager, scrambling for plausible excuses to push deadlines back.
The truth is, unless you have some new habits and rules in place, you’re unlikely to finish what you set out to do at the beginning of your day.
Becoming more productive at work requires you to be more careful about how you spend your working hours. Follow these eight tips to help you accomplish more at the office.
1. Create a to-do list
This is an age-old, fool-proof productivity strategy. When you have a to-do list, you can see exactly how many tasks you need to complete. With your list in front of you, you'll be able to decide how much time you'll need to complete your tasks. Either number your tasks or put them in order of priority and tackle them in the order you prefer.
2. Focus on one thing at a time
You may think that multi-tasking is a great way to get five things done at once, but scientists have proven that it’s bad for you and the quality of your work. Focusing on one thing at a time removes the need for your brain to “juggle” information and allows you to think more deeply about what you’re doing. The result: fewer errors and output that is more intelligent.
3. Take breaks
Stop thinking that you’re too busy to take breaks. Yes, you need to get your job done, but a break will actually boost your productivity. Work for an hour to an hour and a half, get up, walk around, talk to a colleague about the weekend, then get back to work. You’ll find yourself recharged and in a better mood.
4. Create deadlines where they don’t exist
Some tasks don’t have deadlines, allowing your inner procrastinator to come out and play. Six months later you still haven’t completed the task because you didn’t have to. Put that procrastinator back in its box by setting deadlines for open-ended tasks.
5. Let go of perfection
Yes, producing great work is a good thing – but it can slow you down and cost you opportunities. Do as best as you can, give it a once over. Go over it twice and get someone else to review it too if it’s that important. Then move on and get other things done.
6. Avoid meetings
Meetings are inevitable but how many of them are relevant to you? Know which meetings you can afford to refuse. If you avoid delays, mindless chitchat and lengthy meetings with email or even a 10-minute phone call, do that instead.
7. Put on your headphones
If you work in an open office, then there will be a lot of noise and movement around you. If you’re easily distracted, put on your headphones and listen to music that can help you focus. Bonus: when colleagues see that you have headphones or earphones in, they’re likely to only get your attention if they have something important to ask you.
8. Minimise interruptions
Here are some of the distractions that cost you your time and concentration: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, 9GAG, Tumblr, LinkedIn, push notifications, email alerts, Skype, etc. Then there are the games. Keep track of how much time you’re spending on these distractions. If you find that they’re the main cause of lower productivity, then it’s time to consider uninstalling them!