Is time on your side when you’re at work? If you’re staring in bewilderment at a to-do list that was supposed to be a “done” list, then the answer is “no.” During the workday, it’s easy to succumb to time-suckers, distractions and non-essentials.
However, by managing your time more efficiently, you’ll regain control of your day and maybe even your sanity. Here are five ways to give your productivity a boost.
- Don’t Multitask
You might feel like the master of productivity as you call a client, read emails and post on the company’s website. However, multitasking is actually extremely unproductive and biologically impossible. You aren’t wired to give multiple activities 100 percent of your attention, each at the same time.
When you’re multitasking, you’re actually shifting your attention back and forth (called context switching) between the activities, not focusing 100 percent of your awareness on each at the same time. This actually makes your productivity plummet.
- Eat the Frog
What in the world does eating a live amphibian have to do with productivity? Well, you can breathe a sigh of relief, because this is just a metaphor coined by Mark Twain. He quipped that if you eat a frog first thing in the morning, it would be unlikely that anything worse could happen that day.
This translates to a method of prioritizing work. Attack your most important (or unappetizing) project first thing in the morning (eat the frog), so it doesn’t loom over you the rest of the work day. If you keep putting it off, it may be very difficult to get traction on it later. Also, if you don’t handle it swiftly, the mere act of worrying about it can deplete your productivity.
- Just Say No
It’s only two letters, but sometimes “no” is one of the most difficult words to say. At work, you may worry that saying it will make you look obstinate. However, handled correctly, saying no will help you be more productive, because you can’t be when you take on too much.
Don’t simply blurt “no.” Explain why you can’t take on the extra work, but make sure it doesn’t sound like an excuse. Also, don’t flat-out reject it, but suggest alternate possibilities. Always be open to compromise.
- Use the Two-Minute Rule
The Two-Minute Rule is a principle popularized by efficiency expert, David Allen, in his book, “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.” It goes like this: Don’t wait to do any task that you can complete in less than two minutes. Do it immediately. When you do this, small things don’t accumulate into a big, unmanageable logjam. For instance:
- Delete unneeded emails.
- Delete unneeded voicemails.
- Grab office supplies to restock your desk.
- Water the plants that are wilting on your desk.
- Use Digital Productivity Tools
Goodbye Post-It notes and scribbled reminders. Hello digital productivity tools. They are technological lifesavers that simplify and streamline tasks. There are countless resources to fit your specific efficiency needs. These include:
There are apps that can temporarily block addictive social media sites. Others help with task management, track performance, offer daily motivation and cultivate focus.
- Digital To-Do Lists
These apps include daily goal planners, task lists, notes and reminders. Some even support the Get Things Done technique.
At work, there are a barrage of distractions that sap your efficiency. This leads to poorly done assignments, incomplete projects and little success. However, if you follow the five suggestions above to boost your productivity at work, you’ll have much more success, and you’ll have the satisfaction of accomplishment.