With only so many hours in the day, maximizing your time is essential for success. Resist the temptation to put in longer hours or pack more into your already-full calendar. Instead, implement ways you can work smarter, not harder to better manage your time and increase productivity.
1. Track your time
A crucial step toward increasing your productivity is finding a way to make yourself accountable for the time you spend.
Although you may feel that you're good at gauging how much time spend on various tasks, some research suggests that only 17% of people are able to accurately estimate the passage of time. Implementing a process that helps you track how much time you are devoting to various tasks or projects encourages you to focus on completing assignments in a timely manner. Completing tasks right away actually takes less time than going back to it later so, to make the most of small windows of time. If you have a task you know can be done in two minutes or less, do it immediately. In addition, tracking time is a great deterrent for getting lost in social media because you know the clock is ticking!
Time management isn’t about doing more things, it’s about doing more of the important things.
2. Say yes to “Do Not Disturb” mode
Do you ever find yourself asking, “what was I working on again?”. Even brief interruptions can affect your concentration and work patterns and negatively impact productivity. Like the feature on smartphones, enforcing “do not disturb” time can be incredibly beneficial for your workday. It can be very difficult to ignore alerts from your cellphone and colleagues popping by to chat. Minimizing interruptions by turning off notifications, setting office hours or keeping your door closed so you can stay focused on your priorities. This also enables you to stay proactive, rather than reactive, as those interruptions could dictate where you direct your energy, which may not be the best use of your time.
3. Give yourself a break
It might seem counter intuitive but taking scheduled breaks can actually help keep you sharp by improving concentration. Some research has shown that breaking up larger tasks and taking short breaks helps you to maintain a constant level of performance as opposed to tackling large tasks without breaks, which results in a steady decline in performance. The simple act of standing up or stepping away from your workspace can make a world of difference by putting you in a better frame of mind. According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, exercise during work may also help increase productivity. Talking a walk or going to the gym gets your metabolism up, which will not only increase your energy and boost your brain, it helps improve overall health!
4. Be selective with meetings
Excessive meetings afflict many organizations. According to Atlassian, the average office worker spends over 31 hours each month in unproductive meetings at a cost of $37 billion dollars! If you aren’t in a management position, you may have little control over meetings but when possible, decline meetings without a predefined agenda. Consider whether you can accomplish the same goals or tasks via email, phone, or Web-based meeting, which might be more productive. For those “must have” meetings, suggest standing meetings, which have been proven to increase group enthusiasm and performance.
5. Focus on the necessities
In some cases, the tasks themselves can become the distraction. Creating a daily to-do list helps keep you focused on the priorities. With advanced technologies, employees are juggling more than ever before so multitasking is an easy habit to slip into. Although most believe multitasking is efficient, psychologists have found it can actually result in wasted time and reduced productivity. If your brain is trying to manage several tasks at once, it may affect the way you work. If your attempting to be super productive and taking on more than you should, you risk burn out. Make sure you utilize your team efficiently and allow them to handle their responsibilities so you can focus your energies and attention to the important tasks on your agenda.
Too much stress can be bad, but a reasonable level of self-imposed stress can be helpful in terms of enabling you to focus and help meet your goals. Productivity is about maximizing efficiencies every minute of your day, keeping your mind sharp and your tasks moving along smoothly. While your job may occasionally feel overwhelming, implementing one or more of these tricks can have a positive impact on the quality and efficiency of your work and boost productivity.