Improving productivity at work is usually a priority for most managers. Unfortunately, we all have a set number of hours in the day and there is nothing we can do to change that. So, productivity in the workplace is to do with how we manage time and if we make the most of it. Even doing seemingly important jobs can reduce productivity if not done properly.
There are some simple time management hacks that can help to improve productivity at work. For example, keeping strict time limits, avoiding tasks that have little effect on the outcome, and eliminating distractions are some easy ways to get more done in the same amount of time.
Let’s look at some of the best ways of improving productivity at work.
An easy way to get more done in the same amount of time is to split your your day into segments of 15 minutes. Usually, 15-minute timeslots are enough to get some important tasks done and you can add them together if you have more involved tasks.
For example, if you have to schedule a meeting, arrange that the meeting starts at quarter past the hour and finishes on the hour. In an hour-long meeting, there is usually nothing that can’t be accomplished in 60 minutes that you can get done in 45 minutes. You then have a free extra slot to care for another important task.
Even if you use the extra 15 minutes for a break, your productivity will increase if your mind is clearer and more relaxed.
Stress isn’t always a bad thing because it helps us to get more done in a shorter time. If you are working on specific tasks, give yourself a reasonable deadline to get the job done. This will help to keep yourself focused when you are working and get more done in the same amount of time. You will also train yourself to avoid distractions.
Ineffective managers are usually the ones who constantly react to emails and instant messages. Rather than being distracted by emails, have set periods throughout the day to deal with emails. This could be assigned to one of your 15-minute segments.
Another way to avoid people distracting you is to preempt the distractions. You may have a manager or employee who usually interrupts you with questions. So, if you have an important meeting planned, give them a call a few minutes beforehand to ask if they have anything they need to ask.
One exception to ignoring distractions is to have a 2-minute rule to quickly take care of non-urgent matters. If you know that a task or answering an email will take less than 2 minutes to complete, do it immediately. That will get the matter resolved and you can quickly resume your task in hand.
One of the biggest mistakes when it comes to trying to find ways to increase productivity is to try and multitask. In reality, trying to do more than one thing at once takes more time than if you approach the tasks individually. This fact is backed up by scientific research.
The Journal of Graduate Medical Foundation published a report on the effect of multitasking and productivity. For example, researchers found that the brain can only process 1 task at a time. If you try to do 2, 3 or more tasks simultaneously your brain is constantly switching back and forth. It can take up to 60 seconds for your brain to refocus on the task. In the end, scientists found that multitasking can reduce productivity by up to 40%.
It was more productive to have a to-do-list, prioritize it, and work through the list systematically.