Working in the 21st-century office has numerous benefits, however, it is not always easy to stay focused on the task at hand. Due to this, the productivity sometimes plummets even for some of the best and most focused of workers. Once this happens, it is your job to try and turn this negative trend around. The best way to do so is by adopting strategies that are proven to improve productivity and work performance or to simply alter some of your negative or even counterproductive habits. Here is a list of seven ways you can improve productivity at work.
1. Install time management software
One of the greatest adversaries of productivity is the lack of insight. Often, we aren’t even fully aware of how much time we spend doing each task, which makes it difficult to plan an efficient schedule. By installing a simple time management tool, you can see exactly how much time is spent on activities, such as social media, writing emails or tending to your core tasks. Furthermore, you might even be able to spot a leak you didn’t even know was there, and in this way, get those extra several minutes (even hours) you always felt like missing.
2. Use the early morning for creative tasks
Another big mistake a lot of people make is underestimating the importance of the first couple of hours after they wake up. A recent study has shown that our creativity is at its peak during the first two hours after we’re completely awake. Unfortunately, a lot of people spend this time on social media or handling tasks they could do without much focus when they are proven to be at their most productive. If instead, we were to reschedule the most creatively-demanding tasks for these two hours early in the morning, much more could be accomplished.
3. Minimize distractions
Anyone who has ever worked in an office knows just how easily noise can kill productivity. The sound of people around you typing, small-talking and arguing, sometimes even breathing, can completely kill an idea before you are even able to verbalize it. The best way to handle this problem is by getting a quality set of noise-canceling headphones. Seeing as how your productivity and work performance depend on it, it might be worth your while to look for a high-end peripheral. Sony and Philips are always a popular choice, but those willing to order headphones in Sydney might even decide to stick to an in-ear AKGs.
4. Stop avoiding breaks
People start pushing themselves harder and harder once the deadlines get close. They believe that by skipping breaks, they will be able to do much more in the same time-frame. In theory, this logic is flawless, however, in practice, it has proven to negatively affect one’s productivity. Our focus is not the same during the first and last couple of hours of work. That means that we can’t possibly hope to retain the same level of productivity throughout the day. So, take regular breaks and recharge your batteries so that you can perform at your peak for a prolonged period of time. The Pomodoro technique
Perhaps the best way to maintain your productivity levels high for as long as possible is to try out the battle-tested Pomodoro Technique. Basically, it means that you should work for 20 minutes and then rest for 10 minutes (in some versions, the work-to-rest ratio is 23 to 7). While to some this may seem as counterproductive, after all, it includes 20 minutes of rest for every hour you work, what they fail to see is the bigger picture. You see, there is a big difference between 40 hours of work and 40 hours of active work.
5. Cut short on the meetings
If you’re a manager in a company, you need to be aware that about 31 hours each month get wasted on unnecessary meetings. Instead, try to handle some of the less important issues by sending a circular email or even by holding a standing meeting.
6. Self-imposed deadlines
Finally, one of the things that often affect productivity is assuming that a deadline is simply too far away. Once you get this feeling, you need to handle it quickly by self-imposing a bit more restricting deadlines. For instance, you can split the task you have into smaller subtasks and then set a self-imposed deadline for each one of them. In this way, you will ensure that you are on schedule, sometimes, even way ahead.
At the end of the day, the key to improving productivity and work performance lies in learning how to better manage your time. You need to know how to schedule, when to rest and, most importantly, how to stay focused during your workday. Apart from this, you shouldn’t shy away from technology in the form of various gadgets, devices and digital tools that could help you do the job more efficiently. Still, even the most tech-savvy work aid won’t help those who lack discipline. For this reason alone, you need to have a great willpower in order to boost your work performance. Another way to get more into your day is find a way to leverage your ‘dead time’ like optimising your commute by learning ways to be productive while driving.