By: Maurine Anderson
There never seem to be enough hours in the day for finishing the work we want to get done, and unfortunately stopping time isn’t an option, either. But I have found that with a few key tips for better productivity, you can get more done during the workday than you thought possible. Here are 15 tried-and-true ways to be more productive at work.
1. Take advantage of your commute.
If you use public transit or carpool with someone to get to and from work, use that valuable time to get a thing or two done before you even get to the office. Check your email, create your to-do list for the day, brainstorm, etc.
2. Streamline the start of your workday.
Do you have certain tasks that you do at the start of every workday? Look for ways to streamline these tasks to make them take up less time at the beginning of the day. If you consistently have the same three websites open in your browser every day at work, for example, you might add these three websites to your bookmarks bar so that accessing them in the future is as easy as clicking three buttons. If you regularly write out a to-do list at the beginning of your workday, keep a notepad and pen at your desk to welcome you in the morning.
3. Get the biggest task done first.
The beginning of your day truly does set the tone for the rest of the day. So, make the very first part of your day your most productive. Getting the biggest task on your to-do list done first will fuel you with more drive that any cup of coffee could.
4. Practice the 2 minute rule.
We all have those small, daily tasks that pop up throughout the day, usually when we’re in the middle of some bigger project. Many of these small tasks would take two minutes or less to complete, yet we push them off and spend almost as much time reminding ourselves to do them as it would take to complete them. So, make it a rule to stop what you are doing and complete any small task that would take you two minutes or less as soon as that task pops up. You’ll get to check something off of your to-do list, and you’ll be back to whatever it was that you were working on before you know it.
5. Set a specific time for communication.
Answering the occasional email and taking and making phone calls throughout the entire workday can really throw off your workflow. Instead of putting out these various “fires,” so to speak, throughout the day, set aside a specific time for responding to emails and taking and making phone calls. When you condense all of this communication into one item on your to-do list, you’re more likely to finish those other things on your to-do list.
6. Cut out the distractions.
This is a pretty broad tip that you can tailor to your circumstances, depending on what your most common distractions are. Take a moment to assess what distracts you the most throughout the workday. Is it social media? Texts and notifications? Chatty coworkers? Unnecessary meetings? Do what you can to cut out these types of distractions so that you can stay focused. That might mean closing your office door, turning off phone notifications, blocking certain social media sites, etc.
7. Work in 90 minute intervals.
Research has shown that those who work in intervals of 90 minutes or less are more productive than those who work at intervals of 90 minutes or more. So, try working for 90 minutes at a time (or a little less if that works better for the type of work you do) and then giving yourself a break after each interval.
8. Take regular breaks.
Everyone needs the occasional break from work. And contrary to what you might think, stopping for a break multiple times throughout the day will actually help make your day more productive overall. Be sure to incorporate regular breaks into your schedule, and do whatever best helps you destress and refocus. You might go on a walk, chat briefly with a coworker, meditate, etc.