Come autumn, it is normal to spend some time reflecting on the year that will soon remain behind us. You consider what you have achieved, what you wish you had done and what your New Year’s resolutions will be. Being more productive at work doesn’t take an additional college to master. The equation is simple – either work longer hours or work smarter and perhaps even do the same amount of work in less time. This article is all about increasing your productivity at work through nine simple, yet effective steps.
Track your time
According to a research, only 17 percent of people are capable of accurately estimating the passage of time without checking their watch. A tool such as Rescue Time can help you in getting an accurate estimate on how much you spend on daily tasks at work.
Take regular breaks
While it might seem counterproductive, taking scheduled brakes actually helps improve concentration. If you take short breaks during demanding tasks, you will be able to maintain a constant level of performance. If you are working on a long task without taking any time off, your performance and attention to detail steadily declines.
Create small pockets of stress
Stress is usually perceived as a bad thing. However, a manageable level of self-induced stress can actually help you maintain focus and reach your goals. Try giving yourself micro-deadlines for open ended tasks and projects and stick to them. You will be surprised to find how much more productive and efficient you can be if the clock is ticking.
Meetings are the worst time-sucking events in the workplace, and yet somehow people continue to book them, attend them and ultimately complain about them. This infographic by Atlassian shows that an average office worker spends over 31 hours each month attending unproductive meetings. Before you book your next meeting, ask yourself whether you can accomplish the same goals by email, phone, or a web-based meeting platform.
Hold standing meetings
In cases when you absolutely have to call a meeting, consider a standing one. In a research article The Effects of a Non-Sedentary Workspace on Information Elaboration and Group Performance, Andrew P. Knight and Markus Baer advocate that standing meetings are more effective. They improve group attention, reduce territoriality and improve efficiency.
Stick to the two-minute rule
This simple, but effective rule makes the most of small pockets of time you have at work. It goes like this: If you see a task or action that can be done in two minutes or less, do it without further thinking. Completing such a task right away actually takes less time than getting back to it later.
Abandon multitasking at once
For a long time, multitasking has been perceived as an important skill for increasing efficiency. There are still job descriptions that list ‘the ability to multitask’ as one of the required skills of an applicant. However, psychologists say that the opposite might be true. In repeated experiments conducted by different experts in 1990s and 2000s, it was proven that switching between tasks is more time consuming than performing one task at a time.
Having a colleague poke their head into your office just to say hello and ask how it’s going might seem innocent and well-mannered, but the truth is that even brief interruptions seem to produce a change in work pattern and consequently, a drop in productivity. Learn to minimize these interruptions by setting office hours, keeping your door closed, or, if you work in an open space plan office, investing in a pair of quality noise cancelling headphones from Australia and its leading audio equipment manufacturer.
Give up on perfection
It’s not uncommon for startup entrepreneurs to become preoccupied with attempting to perfect a task, when in reality nothing is perfect. Instead of wasting time chasing the illusion of perfection, do the best you can and move on. Once the task is off your plate, you can always come back and adjust it later.
There are many things you can do to improve your performance at work. Some of them are pretty common sense, while others don’t occur to most people. At the end of the day, your success will be determined by your attitude and how you spend your time.