Improve your productivity with these simple tips
Published: 18 May 2016 By Georgina Bloomfield
There are always articles around on the internet about how you can vastly improve your productivity levels at work. How many of these do you spend ages reading and end up forgetting what the tips were? You could have done so much work in that space of time! We’re all victims of procrastination at work, particularly when we get stuck on a project and don’t know how we can get it done and out of the way. Sometimes it’s a project we really don’t want to do so we end up putting it off as much as possible. With my simple tips you can become a productive whizz in no time! (Hopefully you won’t have to read more productivity articles either).
First things first, is your workload manageable?
One of the reasons as to why you’re not being as productive as you’d like is because you’re simply overwhelmed with your workload. A lot of us don’t know how to say no when it comes to taking on extra work for fear of missing out on opportunities, a future promotion or even job security. If you’re finding that you’re doing everybody else’s work more than your own, then you need to shed the workload. Write a list of priorities and delegate anything else that takes too long and isn’t your responsibility. There’s no point saying yes to extra work is it means that your own work suffers as a result. Making lists is a great way to get your productivity back on track. Make sure you make a realistic list too- focusing on what you actually want to achieve for the day. Spread the tasks out over the course of the week depending on how long you think they’re going to take.
Get rid of social media
I’m going to have two tips that contradict each other on the face of things, but it’s all about achieving the right balance. Breaks are good, but you need to disconnect from social media while you’re in the middle of a task. Can you remember what the exact time on your smartphone was the last time you checked it? Probably not. We check our phones so many times that we’re completely unaware of just how much we look at them. Facebook isn’t your priority when it comes to paying the bills- make sure you do the job that you’re paid to do. The odd Facebook check is harmless, but if you find that you’re checking your phone every ten minutes then you need to rein it in. Why is it that you’re checking your phone so much? Are you being distracted by expecting a call, or are you so bored by your current task that it’s making you sit on your phone? If you’re bored, get the task out of the way pronto.
Yep, this totally contradicts my point about breaking away from social media. However, breaks from your work are really important. Whether it’s just stepping outside for a few minutes or working on a much lighter task, you’ll become more productive if you can take a few minutes away from staring at your screen. It’s important to get the balance right. Make sure you can easily return to the task you’re doing.
Distractions? Get rid of them.
You might not class office chatter as a distraction if you’re used to it, but it can be really easy to get sucked into conversations which take up your time. If your workplace allows it, put some headphones in. even if you don’t listen to music, it gives your colleagues a ‘go away’ sign. It can really help you concentrate more on your work and also help you if you’re under pressure. If you can work from home every now and then, it’s a good idea to do so. It gets you away from your normal work environment. However this can unleash a whole load of new distractions, so if you think you can work from home without being distracted by pets or family members, it’s good to do so.
Don’t have a heavy lunch
This is quite an obvious point, but so many of us grab the tastiest thing possible at lunch to improve our day at work that results in a horrendous carb crash around 3pm and our productivity vastly drops. Avoid having large meals at lunchtime if you want to make sure you’re still awake later on in the afternoon. It’s better to have a lighter lunch and a small snack at the ready for when you get peckish later on. Having a quick snack is also a great excuse to have a break from the screen if possible.
Have you heard of the Pomodoro technique?
This method can actually be very useful when completing tasks one by one. All you need is a timer. Prepare a task that you need to do. Set a timer for 25 minutes; work on the task non-stop until the timer ends. Take a five-minute break. Avoid clock watching when you do this technique, as it can make the task seem a lot slower. 25 minutes isn’t too long to be working on a task for. For every four ‘Pomodoro’ tasks you do, take a longer break such as 10-15 minutes. This technique works really well for those who have short attention spans or get bored being on one task for hours on end.
Sleep and exercise do play a key role
Again another obvious point, but if you’re not getting enough sleep then you won’t be productive at work. Similarly, you won’t get good shut-eye if you’re not active enough during the day. It’s a vicious cycle. If you’re too tired to be active, then you won’t sleep well….it’s a bit odd. But ultimately, take half an hour each day to get up off the sofa/office chair. Go for a walk at lunch, do a quick workout when you get home or go to the gym if your membership needs dusting off. More gyms are doing classes too, so it’s more fun and takes less time than aimlessly walking on a treadmill!
This isn’t something that comes naturally to lots of people, but maintaining a tidy work environment (both digitally and physically) will really help you stay focused on the task you need to do. Make sure you have trays for random bits of paperwork and have a good clean out of your drawers and desk space every month or so. It’s nearly impossible to stay productive on a task if you’re workspace is cluttered.
There are lots of other things you can do to increase your productivity in the workplace, but the tips above are the basic ones you need to get right first. All of us become victim to unproductive episodes occasionally, and if you’re constantly tired or feeling worn down, then you need to take a break. Take a week or so off work and get away from it all – you’ll feel much more refreshed upon your return! If you’re still not feeling the productive vibe, then maybe it’s because you don’t know why you need to be productive. If you find that you’re not caring so much anymore, then perhaps you need to start looking for a more challenging and stimulating job.