Tue, May 12
Tips for Being Productive At Work: 6 Surefire Strategies
By Hands up if you’ve ever looked at a barely touched to-do list at the end of the day and asked yourself, “Where did the time go?!”
6 Practical Tips for Being Productive at Work
Hands up if you’ve ever looked at a barely touched to-do list at the end of the day and asked yourself, “Where did the time go?!”
Everyone has struggled with being productive at work at some point. Maybe you had a case of analysis paralysis, or self-doubt crept in and brought along its favorite sidekick, procrastination. Either way, it’s a frustrating situation we all wish we could fix with the snap of a finger.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic potion for being more productive at work, but there are some strategies you can use. We’ve distilled them into the following list of proven productivity tips for work.
Prioritize and organize your tasks: no multitasking
While making a to-do list is one of the most important ways to be productive at work, it doesn’t stop there. Failing to prioritize items by importance can lead to a whole day of checking off less important items and avoiding the harder tasks. Identify the high-value tasks on your list and get to them first. This makes you more effective and even shows you what to delegate. Knowing that you have planned for the most important tasks also takes away the mental load that comes with worrying about how you are going to fit in everything into the hours you have. At the same time, focusing on one task at a time leads to faster completion. If you constantly start and stop one thing to do another, you waste valuable time getting back into rhythm.
Take regular breaks
Yes, if you want to be more productive at work, you need to stop working. And regularly. Research has proven that taking breaks during long tasks makes you more focused, creative and productive, while constant effort over a long period leads to a decline in performance. But this is only beneficial when you are deliberate about your breaks and approach them with structure. A distraction is not a break. Divide your time into manageable chunks and set a timer to notify you at the end of each period. Take your focus off the task at hand to recharge, and get back into it after a bit.
Know when to say "No"
“People who are highly efficient are really good at not doing things.” It’s hard to say no when your colleague asks you for help with something. Harder still when it’s your boss. Next thing you know you are overwhelmed by a long list of assignments.
Having less to do means more time spent on the important things and with more focus, thus more productivity. That’s why it’s important to consciously set things aside.
Sometimes the pressure is not external but from yourself. You may want to jump on a new project or opportunity, but as exciting as it may seem, remember it will only take away from your prioritized tasks.
Set deadlines for yourself
There is no such thing as unlimited time, otherwise, nobody would want to learn how to be more productive at work. Open-ended tasks end up being put off until the last minute, or done at a leisurely pace, taking up time that could have been spent on other things. Setting deadlines for everything you have on your plate keeps you efficient while ensuring nothing falls through the cracks.
One smart tip for being productive is to set aside less time than you think you will need to accomplish a task. Not only will you push yourself to do more in less time, but you also remove any leeway for time-wasting or distractions.
Turn off your notifications
This is probably one of the most acknowledged but least practiced tips for being productive. That’s because many people don’t know just how disruptive a simple text message can be. It may take you less than a minute to text back, but researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that the average person takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to cognitively get back to where they left off after an interruption or a switch in task. And that’s without counting time lost due to momentum loss, do-overs, stress, and fatigue. See why “DND” should be your default mode when at work?
Include time in your schedule to check emails and messages. It will make you more proactive than reactive with your energy.
Break down large tasks into smaller pieces
“Eat the elephant” is a phrase commonly used when talking about how to produce at work, especially when it comes to big tasks. Many people procrastinate when faced with a daunting task, but the best way to avoid feeling overwhelmed is to break the task up into smaller pieces. Bite-sized pieces. So rather than noting “Project X” into your planner, break it down into a step by step list. Ticking off smaller items as you go gives you momentum and a small hit of dopamine that will keep you motivated.
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Though proven methods, it’s important to remember that the above tips for productivity at work are not one size fits all, but rather a starting point. If you are trying to learn how to be most productive at work you will need to tweak these strategies to work best for you.
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