Productivity is a RED HOT topic in every single organisation!
And it should be – surveys and reports state that an average worker admits to wasting at least 3 hours EVERY DAY – not including lunch!
Of course, all this is costing organisations billions (yes, that’s right – BILLIONS) every year. But let us step away from the cost to the company for a bit and talk about the cost to our lives and our relationships. Because no matter how much fun you are having at work – the wasted time comes back to bite us sooner or later; either as extra-long office hours, wasted weekends, missed family events, stressful vacations or reduced salaries.
So how do you make sure you Work Smart, Not Hard, and Finish On Time?
Well, there are many tips and tricks to improve your time management skills and make your day more productive. Here are some of our favourites –
1. Start the day with a plan
The first 30-45 minutes at work is usually a waste! No matter how conscientious you are, you WILL end up wasting the first half-hour greeting colleagues, settling in, checking your mail and generally thinking of what to do first.
There are two ways to fix this
- Start your day early: get in before everyone else and get some alone time to plan your day and catch up on important tasks.
- Spend 10 minutes at the end of each day to plan what you have to do next.
(This has to be a written down to-do list, not something in your head)
2. Eat the frog
The frog here is the most tedious or the hardest job of the day. The idea is to do it first and get it out of the way. Why? Because we all tend to delay complicated tasks, and as the day progresses, they just become bigger and bigger in our minds.
3. Get rid of ALL distractions
We wrote ALL in capitals because there are many distractions at work! On average, we switch activities every 3 minutes, and it takes us at least 25 minutes to refocus.
Several studies have pointed out 5 main time-wasters at work – emails, meetings, browsing online, socializing with co-workers, and procrastination.
Here are our tips to fix these
- Give yourself phone free working hours. These could be half-hour slots where you mute your phone and concentrate on the job at hand.
- Limit checking emails to only 3-4 times in a day. Do it in batches instead of reacting to every single email.
- Set a clear agenda for each meeting and always have an end time set. If you don’t control the meeting, then it’s best to communicate an end time. For example, saying I have another call starting in 40 minutes is a great way to leave on time.
- Stop checking social media feeds and shopping online – you just have to be strong and force yourself to disconnect. If going cold turkey seems too much then starting in small chucks is a good way to detox. Check out this list of apps that can help you get started.
- The best way to stop getting distracted with friends at work is to stop distracting them. If you keep going over to everyone’s desk and interrupting, then they will do the same to you! Lead the way by restricting your conversations to coffee breaks; if you have to interrupt, then apologise and ask if they are free – this will make sure they think twice before interrupting you.
4. Break up your tasks into small ones
This might seem counterproductive, but it actually works. If you get uninterrupted 8 hours, you won’t be able to focus continuously – that’s not how the human brain works. We look for distractions, and we are very good at finding them. Giving yourself small goals or shorter deadlines stops you from getting overwhelmed and gives you the carrot of a break to look forward to.
The Pomodoro timer app is a great way to stay focused for small chunks of time.
And finally… give it time.
Even if you take every trick in this article seriously and start tomorrow – you will NOT see any change. For a while.
Productivity is like a muscle; you need to keep working at it to strengthen it. The first day you might only be able to stay away from your phone or WhatsApp for 10 minutes, but I promise you it WILL get better. You just have to keep doing it. It takes time and constant effort to make a dent.
In the long run, you will not just be able to see changes at work, but the positive impact will also spill over to your personal and emotional side. Believe us; you will sleep so much better with a to-do list that’s all crossed out and a calendar that is planned.
A large part of becoming more productive is about changing your mindset and habits. At SoaringEagles, we use Cognitive Behaviour techniques based training programmes for individuals and corporates that can help people achieve peak productivity at work. Call us or email us to find out more.