Whether it's the start of a calendar year or a fiscal quarter, many people often set the goal of increasing productivity while at work. While your office or location may offer unique challenges and distractions, there are fundamental methods to improve productivity.
Using some or all of the six tips listed below can help you cross off more from your to-do list every day and increase your overall productivity in the office.
1. Create a regular sleep schedule
This first tip is critical to the success of any other tips for increasing your productivity at work because quality sleep improves mental and physical health, and allows us to fully focus on tasks without underlying fatigue or exhaustion.
Monitor your sleep habits for a week or so, noting the time when you go to bed, the time when you wake up, and how many hours of sleep you average per night. You should also take notes on if you wake up feeling rested or not as well as if your bed, mattress, and bedroom are comfortable and foster a good sleeping environment.
2. Create a calendar system
With the advent of smartphones and other hand-held devices, you can easily create a calendar that allows you to easily see how your day will flow and where your time is used while at work. Use your calendar to dig deeper into your workflow and productivity by making notes on how productive you were at key times of the day as well as finding extra pockets of time when you can focus on smaller tasks. Additionally, your calendar can potentially help you eliminate those annoying time wasters that happen to everyone in an office setting.
3. Create goals then break them down to tasks
Most professionals are tasked with goals each quarter, whether they're sales goals, service goals, or other goals related to the mission of your business. Quarterly and annual goals are best attained when they're broken down into specific, doable tasks that can be achieved on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
Invest a block of time to look at your professional goals as an individual as well as your employer's goals for you as an employee and begin breaking them down into smaller tasks that allow you to schedule them in a timely fashion to meet the longer-term goal.
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4. Create contact time vs. focused time
An office environment—even a home office—is filled with numerous distractions such as phone calls, emails, texts, IMs, and face-to-face conversations that pop up throughout the day. If you have an accessible daily calendar for your company, you can schedule quiet, task-focused time when you're not available for meetings or calls, allowing you to create small blocks of time to work through your necessary daily tasks. Additionally, you can create blocks of time when you're available for conversations, phone calls, and when you can answer emails and texts. This can help limit distractions.
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5. Create systems to save time
This falls under the, "work smarter, not harder," heading. If you have tasks you perform on a regular basis, such as creating documents or spreadsheets, create easy-to-adapt templates to save yourself time. If you work in an environment where you speak or interact with the public on a regular basis, create systems that allow you to quickly address frequently asked questions as well as common services.
Within your workspace, create micro-systems that complement your work style. If you spend a great deal of your day at your desk, examine and declutter your desk surfaces, leaving key and necessary items within a short reach.
Create filing systems, both digital and physical, that allow you to quickly access needed information. Create a master document, either digital or physical, that serves as a file directory for you and any co-worker who needs quick access to critical files.
6. Create scheduled break times
While your employer may grant you a limited number of breaks during the day that allow you to leave your workspace or desk to move around, you can also create small breaks for yourself while you still tackle your tasks. Use stretching exercises to move your muscles and improve flexibility and blood flow while seated at your desk. Use music or recordings of nature sounds to give your brain a break from the white noise or voices in your office surroundings.
Becoming more productive in the office may take time, but using these tips can help you make small changes that will have a big impact on your productivity and increase your career success.