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How to increase productivity at work?

Posted On01/21/2019

ContributorNelson Jobs

We’ve all been there: You’ve made your coffee, checked your calendar, and scanned the news, and now you’re ready to start working. You’re in the zone and can feel the cogs of productivity churning away. You are a powerhouse of efficiency.

But before you know it, you’re sidelined with office chatter, morning meetings, Slack chats, an inbox that won’t quit, and a growing list of to-dos. We can’t change the number of hours in a day, but we can manage how we use them. Increasing productivity in the workplace means ruthlessly organizing your time and energy. Read our top tips below and become more productive at work today.

Work in Sprints

Want to be more productive at work? Work in sprint sessions.

Renowned performance researcher Dr. K. Anders Erickson found that top experts work similarly—in uninterrupted 90-minute sessions. He and his team at Florida State University studied athletes, musicians, and chess players, among others, and found that these elite performers shared the tendency for intense bursts of working, also known as “sprint sessions.” Adapted for the modern workplace, sprint sessions could translate to blocking off your calendar through 10:30 am or setting a timer for 45 minutes of distraction-less work. But the key is just that: eliminating distractions and interruptions while you work.

Know Yourself

Are you a morning person or someone who thrives in the early afternoon?

By understanding your best work habits, you can organize tasks, meetings, and work sessions to make the most of your natural efficiency. For some, this means accomplishing their most important tasks bright and early; for others it means collaborative team meetings are best reserved for 2:00 pm when you’re at your most creative.

Stop Multi-tasking

Reading emails while eating lunch during a conference call—sound familiar?

The bad news is that unless you’re part of the 2.5% of the population referred to as Supertaskers, you’re not wired to handle more than one task at a time. And yet, we all do it. The digital economy creates the opportunity for a barrage of intrusions and plenty of distraction. But here’s the problem: by attempting to complete more than one task at the same time, we’re actually doing a worse job at both. Allocate the time to accomplish one task fully before moving on to another and watch your productivity soar.

Limit Email Read & Response Time

It’s estimated that the modern office worker spends up to 50% of their day reading and responding to emails—that’s 20 hours per week.

Imagine the productivity gains possible for employees and employers if this were reduced by half or even a third. But how? The ever-connected world we live in makes it’s hard to imagine stalled responses from colleagues, but that just may be the answer. Productivity maven—and maverick—Tim Ferris advocates for seriously reducing the time spent in your inbox, challenging readers and supporters to limit checking email to once or twice a day, at 11:00 am and 4:00 pm. He recommends setting an auto response and reminding team members that they can always pick up the phone. While this radical approach isn’t feasible for all, a healthy compromise is closing Outlook or Gmail while working in one of your sprint sessions.

Set Micro-Goals

Distill larger, more complex tasks into actionable pieces, or micro-goals, to become more productive at work.

For example, “finish editorial calendar for Q2” is not a helpful goal. It’s too broad and shapeless, which makes pushing it to the bottom of your to-do list while checking off more manageable tasks the most likely reality. Instead, break the project into parts like “check subject matter experts’ availability for Q2 whitepapers” and “cement paid media placements for first half of Q2.” These more feasible tasks will enable you methodically chip away at a formerly overwhelming goal.

Productivity is a skill and a behavior that can be improved over time with the right tools and lots of practice. We all know those people who manage to “do it all.” Their secret is no secret at all, but a well-informed and well-practiced approach to productivity.

Incorporate the tips above into your daily routine and kickstart your productivity today.