It seems like more and more companies are adopting the motto “do more with less”. So where does that leave you?
Scrambling to complete deadlines, wearing 18 different hats, answering a river of emails and phone calls… you get the point.
The goal of this post is to help you find ways for you and your team to increase productivity at work. Instead of trying to do a bunch of these at once, find a couple that you can implement within your organization or department and practice them for at least 21 days.
(the time it typically takes to form a new habit)
List your “crucial results” for the day
Create a spreadsheet listing your top 3 most important (i.e. crucial) for each day. This will help you plan each day and make sure you’re maintaining focus on the most important tasks each day.
Use tools to make your life easier and more efficient
- Boomerang – Schedules the exact date and time you want to send an email or bring it to the top of your inbox if you don’t get a response within a certain time.
- RescueTime – Helps you monitor and analyze where you’re spending your time online.
- Evernote – A digital notepad stored in the cloud. You can also save pictures and voice-recorded messages as notes.
Prioritize your most important tasks first
Your ability to make decisions and think critically diminishes throughout the day, so tackle your most important projects earlier in the day.
Complete tasks in batches
It takes time for you to get into a rhythm with whatever you’re working on. If you constantly start and stop that process, you’re wasting time getting back into your rhythm or catching up to where you left off. Here are some practical applications:
- Set a block of time to knock out data entry and reporting tasks at once
- Set meetings with colleagues back to back in the afternoon
- Answer voicemails and emails for a chunk of time in the afternoon
Exercise is not only important for the body, it is almost as important for your mental wellbeing. Exercising has been shown to reduce stress hormones while increasing growth factors in the brain necessary for new neuronal connections.
Morning gatherings with your team
Each morning, huddle together with your team for about 15 minutes and go over each person’s main crucial results for the day. This helps everyone get on the same page and lets people know where their assistance is needed.
Eat healthy foods throughout the day to avoid energy crashes and keep your brain properly fueled
The food we eat is extremely important in how productive we are at work. Junk food not only affects your weight. It also causes to decreased productivity and energy crashes.
Turn off the gadgets for crunch time
Remove the distractions by silencing your phone, exiting out of chat applications and closing the inbox before you start any important task where complete focus is necessary.
Set an agenda and goal for each meeting
Make sure there is a set agenda and goal for each meeting. No agenda and goal, no meeting. Also respect participants’ time!
Working remotely can help you increase your productivity by getting more done in less time. While the office is an environment that can foster collective energy and resources, it can also hinder our productivity.
De-clutter and organize your work environment
There’s a lot to be said about how much organization and less “stuff” can decrease your anxiety, thereby increasing productivity. Having less clutter will help you think more clearly and waste less time searching for that misplaced document.
Love your job
It turns out that the best way to become more productive at work is to have a job you love. No tool, no system, no bonus scheme and no amount of pressure can match the productivity boost you get simply from being happy at work.
Complete the “2-Hour Solution” at the end of your work week
Spend 2 hours each week for the purpose of mentally creating the next week of your life. Use this time each week to reconnect with your goals, assess what has been working and what has not, and schedule your calendar for the upcoming week.
Wake up early
Look at every top CEO, executive or leader and you’ll find they all have 1 major thing in common – they wake up early.
Stand Up more
There is a productivity method called the Pomodoro Technique – it forces you to stop and take a break every 30 minutes, so you can use that time to get up and walk around. Also take phone calls standing up and do stand-up meetings.
Learn to say no
Throughout your day, people will inevitably disrupt you to get your help or input on something. It’s so easy to say yes and take on more things, but this is counterproductive. Learn to say no more often to guard your time for your highest leverage activities.
Stop checking email
Unless your clients could have true emergencies where time is of the essence, there is no reason to check your email more than a couple of times a day. Try only checking email twice a day max (or once, if you can get away with it). This approach will help you stay on track with your work by limiting distractions.
Focus on one thing at a time
Multitasking lowers IQ and reduces the performance with which you can complete any task.
Find simple tasks to outsource so you can focus on high-leverage activities
Check out Taskrabbit, oDesk, Fiverr and Elance to see if there’s something you could be outsourcing.
Give yourself less time than you think you’ll need
However long you think it will take you to complete a project or task, give yourself less time to complete it. You’ll find that giving yourself a deadline will keep you more focused to get the job done.
As of tomorrow…pick one
Replicate the body’s natural cycle
Replicating the body’s natural cycle in office environments is a fundamental, but often ignored, part of improving wellbeing. Keep blinds and windows open to ensure there’s natural light and air circulating. Plants are another well- researched way to improve air quality and mood to help you get more done.
Sync all your calendars
There’s no point in having a desk calendar, a work calendar, a personal calendar, etc. Get them all in one place digitally that you can access on your computer or on mobile. Google calendars is our preferred tool.
Organize your thoughts on paper
Writing things down on paper can help you sort through the feeling of being stuck. You can write, cross out, and brainstorm until you better organize your thoughts.
Turn off the popup notifications
Those immediate popup notifications set to every app on your phone are really distracting. Turn off the ones you don’t really need. And set your email fetch to hourly instead of every 15 minutes.
We truly believe you will manage to adopt some of these practises and remember to give them a decent try for at least 21 days…and then re-asses!