Volumes have been written about productivity, which drives profit for businesses and contributes to self-worth for individuals. In a nutshell, it comes down to two things: organization and communication. Try these 10 tips to boost your output with little extra effort.
1. Minimizing complexity. Needlessly complex regulations, forms and bureaucracy contribute wasted time and energy – and frustrate the people you work with. Delegate less-important tasks, eliminate responsibilities that aren’t profitable, and focus on the work that generates results. Keep it simple.
2. Get it in writing. We know that keeping lists, organizing projects and breaking down complex tasks into manageable steps are all great ways to meet deadlines. Using an app or computer program that tracks our obligations ensures we keep on target. I like Basecamp for keeping up with clients, projects and deadlines.
3. Take a deep breath. Before you dive into your busy day, take a few moments to focus. Resist the urge to check your phone or your schedule and instead visualize what your successful day will involve. Set your own agenda, or you will become a slave to others’ priorities. Make a to-do list with your goals in mind and add to it or update it every morning.
4. Do it now. Get that annoying responsibility that you hate out of the way first thing in the morning. After that, the day looks brighter.
5. One thing at a time. Studies show that multitasking can take away your focus, making tasks take twice as long and increasing the likelihood of errors by 50 percent. You can’t afford distractions. Let go of anything that ruins your concentration and focus.
6. Avoid the mess. Piles of paper remind you of unfinished business. Unpaid bills nudge you away from your immediate priority. A recent Harvard Business Review study showed that people with neat offices are more persistent and less frustrated.
7. Work less. It seems counterintuitive, but a Stanford University study determined that laborers who put in 70 hours had the same productivity as those who worked 56. Could it be that working smarter really works?
8. Turn it off. A CareerBuilder survey showed that cell phones were the biggest workplace distraction. Ignoring your phone when it rings or buzzes will rob you of your focus – you’re still going to think about what you’re missing. Only when you turn off all the noise will you be able to concentrate on what’s in front of you.
9. Leave it for later. Let some things slide. Open your mail every third day. Leave unimportant email replies for that quiet time on Friday afternoon. Save voicemail messages for a designated reply time.
10. Get out. Sunlight boosts productivity. Workers who sit next to windows work faster and perform better, a California Energy Commission study said. Instead of hanging out at the water cooler, try taking a brisk walk outside.
There’s nothing better than leaving work at the end of the day knowing you were able to accomplish great things. Be in control of your daily agenda – do what you can to make the hours count.