Are you getting as much accomplished as possible throughout the day?
If not, changes in the way you work can improve your productivity, leading to more opportunities for success. Some tips to increase productivity require small changes to activities you may think are already increasing your work output. But the reality is: These habits may be causing you to get less work done overall.
Read on to find out the activities that will help you work faster and accomplish more each day.
1. Check your email periodically.
You probably weren't expecting this piece of advice but checking your email less can help you get more work done. Scanning through your emails first thing in the morning may distract you from other important pending tasks.
Just think: How long does it take you to read your email? How many of your emails require immediate action? If it takes you nearly an hour in the morning and most of the emails you read require no action, it may be a good idea to reconsider your email management methods.
Rather than checking for new tasks in your email, tackle your current ones. If for some reason you can't avoid checking your email in the morning, set your filters to forward emails with certain subjects and/or senders to a designated inbox file. This way you can avoid wasting time on lower priority emails and just focus on messages that require your attention.
2. Focus on one task rather than multi-tasking.
Sometimes you may feel if you're doing work on many different things at the same time you're getting more work done. That's not always the case. Multi-tasking can sometimes lead to a lot of project starts and few project finishes.
To make your day more successful, take on one task at a time and work on it to its completion. Working this way will improve your quality of work and will help complete work faster.
3. Write a shorter to-do list.
Long to-do lists are written with good intentions. You set out to tackle a bunch of work in one day. However, most often, only a fraction of the tasks on long lists are finished because you only have so much time. If you have several items unaccomplished at day's end, you'll likely feel as though you haven't gotten enough work done.
To be more productive, write shorter to-do lists with the most important tasks and commit to finishing them entirely. When you sit down to work, start with the hardest tasks first. Working on the easiest ones at the beginning to knock them out can sound like a good idea, but it can cause you to keep putting off the more difficult work. Work on the tasks that require the most time first and then you can zip through the easy tasks later.
4. Set a timer.
An overworked brain is a less productive brain. During the workday you need to take breaks to work effectively. Work in spurts and set a timer to alert you when it's time to take a break. Choosing how long you work is entirely up to you. Just remember to also set a timer for your break periods, so free time doesn't escape you.
5. Look for ways to avoid distractions.
Do you work with music playing in the background? Do you keep your email or instant messaging open while working? Do people constantly walk into your office unannounced? With today’s environment, many are working from home which could lead to more distractions. Are there multiple people in your home? Is the TV on in the background? Did you forget to transfer your wash to the dryer and get up in the middle of a task to take care of household to-do lists?
These distractions may be hurting your productivity significantly without you even realizing it. Experiment with removing stimuli that could be causing you to get less work done. If you like listening to music, try a music station that plays instrumentals without lyrics.
Check your email at set times during the day, such as in the late morning, after lunch and a few hours before you leave work. Change your chat status to busy or invisible. Close your office door for periods of time or set office hours. Cutting down on outside stimuli will help you stay productive throughout the day, increasing your potential for success.
Now it's your turn! Do you have any tips that increase the amount of work you get done during the day? Share them with us below.
Disclaimer: Please note that this is not all-inclusive. Our guidance is designed only to give general information on the issues actually covered. It is not intended to be a comprehensive summary of all laws which may be applicable to your situation, treat exhaustively the subjects covered, provide legal advice, or render a legal opinion. Consult your own legal advisor regarding the specific application of the information to your own plan.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.