“The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” ~Lewis Carroll
Hamsters are soft, cuddly and playful creatures that make good pets. If you had one as a child, it was probably your job to provide food and water for him, and to clean the cage. You were the one who protected him from the cat. Didn’t you love to watch your pet in that wheel? He would run for hours and never get anywhere.
Do you feel that way at work? Running for hours and never getting anywhere? Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by reports, email, and phone calls for which you don’t seem to have time? It doesn’t have to be this way. Productivity is the efficient use of resources to optimize product output. As an employee, you can increase your value to an organization by using your time efficiently. Make these 10 simple changes to stop self-sabotage and increase productivity at work.
“The early bird gets the worm.”
1. Complete the most dreaded tasks first. Sometimes there are assignments you don’t enjoy. They may even keep you up at night. Set a goal to put these first on your agenda. Anxiety about these tasks only increases your procrastination. This can wreak havoc on your ability to be more productive. So handle the tasks and move on, which will increase productivity at work.
“A place for everything and everything in its place.”
2. Organize your work space. Clutter, by definition, is a confused and disorderly state. It hinders your productivity. Sifting through papers on your desk to find a particular report is a waste of time, especially if your boss needed it five minutes ago. If items you need are at your fingertips, then your valuable time is used more productively. Increase productivity at work by de-cluttering your workspace. Buy bins to sort information into categories. Use a color coding system to help with processes. Getting organized will make you 40% more productive because office workers waste an average of 40% of their workday due to lack of organization.
“Don’t tempt fate.”
3. Get rid of distractions. Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets are entertaining, but not conducive to meeting a deadline. Use them at work only if they are essential to the job at hand. Internet surfing can be informative, but unless you are doing research for your employer, wait until you get home. To increase productivity at work and keep up with your social media at the same time, you can set aside breaks and lunch to communicate with friends via the net.
“Faster than a speeding bullet.”
4. Take a speed reading course. If your work consists of copious amount of reading material, it helps to skim material and read only those things you need for any given project. Skip the rest. Increasing your reading speed will increase productivity at work. Ask your boss if they will pay for a speed reading course. If not, it would be worth it to invest on your own.
“Off the top of my head.”
5. Take notes. Write down that good idea that came to you in a dream. Keep a notebook in your desk drawer. Make notes about things you want to address at the next meeting. Jot down the solution to a pressing problem. Put important events and their dates on your calendar. Whether you use paper or an electronic device, the act of writing it down keeps it front and center. The information will be available when you need it and you’ll be more productive because of it.
“Busy as a bee.”
6. Find your most productive time of the day. Some people like mornings and complete a good deal of work before lunch. Others run full-hilt in the afternoon and are so absorbed in their work that they are surprised to find it is time to go home. To increase productivity at work, discover your own best time and schedule your projects accordingly.
“Keep your eye on the ball.”
7. Focus on tasks that yield the most productivity. Are you aware of
Pareto’s Law, or the 80-20 Rule? Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist who created a mathematical formula to describe the distribution of wealth, i.e. 20% of the people controlled 80% of the wealth. Simply stated it says that in anything, 20% of the factors are essential, and 80% are not. For example, 20% of your customers are responsible for 80% of your sales. Or 20% of your employees are creating 80% of your production. Increase productivity at work by concentrating on the tasks that yield the best results. Focus on those personal habits that will boost your efficiency.
“Straight from the horse’s mouth.”
8. Learn to delegate. If you hold a supervisory position, delegate those tasks that do not require your attention. You can then concentrate on the projects that do. This is a simple way to optimize your time and increase productivity at work. On average, most managers get interrupted every three minutes. Executives can waste up to eight hours a week in meetings. However, for every hour spent in planning, three to four hours are saved from miscommunications, interruptions, and lack of direction. In planning meetings, you can delegate tasks to your team and be more productive all the way around.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
9. Exercise. Exercise is good for the body, mind and spirit. Physically, it will reduce your weight and improve your cardio-vascular health. Mentally, it will boost your stamina and help you get through those long work days. Exercise stimulates blood flow to the brain. This helps to make you alert and better able to concentrate. When you are active, your brain releases serotonin, a neurotransmitter, which enhances your state of mind. Calm mind, less stress. If you don’t have the time or desire for a workout program, there are simple things you can do. Take a walk at lunchtime. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Stand and stretch. Do not remain sedentary. Get up and move to increase productivity at work.
“Put your heart into it.”
10. Love what you do. Doing something you love is the best way to ensure productivity. Find a career that engages you mentally and emotionally. Look for a company that enhances who you are. If you maintain a positive attitude, these things will be easier to obtain.
You don’t have to sabotage your productivity with bad habits. Like most things in life, your business success is up to you. Don’t let “spinning your wheels” describe your work experience. If you are frustrated with your bad habits, replace them with those that will increase productivity at work. Use your time, talents and knowledge to boost efficiency. This will make you an asset to any organization. For more suggestions, read Stephen’s Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, or David Allen’s Getting Things Done.
Where are you the strongest? Which simple suggestion will you try to help your own productivity? Share in the comments!