Accomplishing more in less time might sound impossible, but it’s quite doable.
As employee engagement specialists, we communicators want to ensure that every employee thoroughly enjoys the workday. Part of that is increasing efficiency and productivity and promoting a healthy work-life balance.
Your to-do list might threaten to pin you to your desk—even after hours—but there are small changes you and your colleagues can make to help you tick off those boxes faster.
Here are 10 productivity tips:
1. Make a plan—and stick to it. List all your pressing tasks; it doesn’t matter where, just as long as you can see them. Tick each task off as you complete it, and celebrate every small win. That’ll motivate you to keep going. Create a new plan often.
2. Prioritize (realistically). Before you dive into your tasks, ask yourself: Is there a major deadline looming? Are there any tasks you can push back to focus on a more pressing task? Organizing your plan will save you from scrambling later.
3. Do smaller (or boring) tasks first. Research finds that experiencing periods of boredom and low stimulation can make us more creative and productive later, so if you’ve got a big project to work on, you’ll be primed to ace it once you’ve completed those mundane tasks.
4. Use definitive action language. By falling prey to “should” syndrome, you’ll start to put things off. Instead of “I should,” try saying “I will” or “I can.” Assert, “I will follow up on this email,” or, “I can finish this presentation today.” You’ll be much more motivated to complete those tasks.
5. Respect your rhythm. We all have individual rhythms. Some are early birds; others are night owls. It’s not always easy, or even possible, to complete a certain task at a specific time. Your energy might be lagging, or you might not be feeling creative. When you’re losing your drive, stop. Have a drink or a snack. Make small talk. Work is not a race, so when you need time out, take it.
6. Automate processes. With all the digital gadgets at our disposal, it’s easier than ever to automate certain processes. One program, Zapier.com, enables us to seamlessly automatically transfer data, log information and integrate applications. If a task doesn’t require human eyes or hands, give it to the bots.
7. Cut out distractions. We’re bombarded with social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; workplace tools like email, Jive and Slack; and endless notifications. Some are crucial to getting stuff done, but sometimes switching off completely (yes, even your phone) makes it much easier to get into the zone and zip through those niggling tasks.
8. Take regular breaks—outside. Working through the to-do list without moving away from your desk can be exhausting. When you feel close to burning out, step away and take a stroll—not just down the corridor and back, but out in the great outdoors. A bit of fresh air—and exposure to nature—can make us happier, more energized and more productive. You don’t have to go frolicking in the fields; a simple walk around the block will suffice.
9. Relax your inhibitions. Do you spend a lot of time mulling your idea—wondering whether it’s ingenious, or just ridiculous—rather than just getting it out there? Research finds the most creative among us have simply mastered lowering their inhibitions—they don’t care about how their ideas are received. If you’re anxious about sharing your idea, just remember: If it’s stuck in your head, no one can benefit from it.
10. Ask for help. Even the most efficient people need help getting things done. Saying no doesn’t make you inferior or incompetent; it makes you responsible. Recognizing your limitations and sharing your workload will increase your productivity; doing so leads to a more open and collaborative workplace, too.