Productivity is critical to your success at work. Business owners, managers and executives all want to get the most from their employees. If you’re not performing as efficiently or effectively as others, your long-term job prospects could be in trouble.
If you’re recognizing yourself here, if you’re not accomplishing enough throughout the day, consider how you allocate your time. To get more done at work (and have more time to spend doing what you love), consider these seven simple tips to increase productivity:
1. Set your schedule for the next day the night before you leave the office.
Prioritize which tasks need to be completed. Even if you are interrupted by unexpected assignments or emergencies, you’ll know exactly what needs to be done when you return to your desk. Not only will a schedule help keep you organized and focused, you’ll get the satisfaction of crossing items off your “to do” list once you complete them.
2. Take a five-to-10 minute break whenever you feel mentally fatigued.
Take a short walk down the hall to the water cooler, or even across the street for a cup of coffee. Brief interludes from work can actually increase your productivity by getting your blood flowing and allowing you to return to your work with fresh eyes.
3. Reduce your multi-tasking.
Although multi-tasking is currently in vogue, trying to accomplish more than one task at a time can actually be more harmful than helpful. Studies have shown that people who try to do two or more activities at once end up becoming distracted, and the quality of their work suffers. Focus on one task at a time, complete it properly and move on to the next project.
4. Eliminate potential distractions.
Although interruptions during the workday are inevitable, minimize them to the extent possible. If you have an office with a door, keep it closed. When a co-worker is looking to shoot the breeze, let him or her know that you’re trying to finish a project, but would be happy to chat later. (Just be sure not to brush off any of your superiors.)
5. Impose deadlines on yourself, and stick to them.
As you would with a financial budget, budget your time to help you meet deadlines faster. Some people who thrive under deadlines even deliberately shorten their workday by 15 minutes to ensure optimum efficiency.
6. Avoid large, heavy lunches that will leave you feeling fatigued.
Instead, snack on foods high in protein, fiber and antioxidants throughout the day. Granola and berries will keep you full and focused. Sugary foods and energy drinks keep you going only for a short time, and the inevitable “crash” may turn you into a zombie and ruin your ability to work for the rest of the day.
7. Keep your workspace clean and clear of clutter.
As the old saying goes, “A cluttered desk is a symptom of a cluttered mind.” The time you spend looking for misplaced papers each day is extra time you could be using to complete your work. Likewise, there are apps to assist you in categorizing and electronically organizing your email inbox. Imagine the time you could save by no longer searching for hard-to-find emails!