5 Simple Strategies To Improve Your Productivity

7 min read

Do you feel like you’ve been stretching yourself too thin lately?

Having too large a workload has become the norm. Growing piles of documents to projects, teamed with unread emails and calendars filled with back-to-back meetings can make anyone feel overwhelmed and overloaded with work. Add to that the pressure to perform to meet rising expectations and it’s a recipe for  excessive stress that can interfere with your productivity and performance.

 

To stay on top of your workload, keep productivity at its peak and reduce stress levels you can do one of three things:

  • put in more working hours,

  • delegate or hire someone you can delegate to,

  • work smarter.

 

There are limited number of hours in the day and recruiting new staff may not always be possible right now. However, productivity can be continuously improved. Knowing how to effectively structure your time will take the pressure off and help you effectively manage your workload.

 

Here are 5 strategies you can incorporate into your working day to become more efficient and generate more output with less effort.

 

1. Make a list of expected results

Making a list of tasks that needs to be completed each day, week or month is a well-known tactic that certainly can help you stay on track of your projects. However, in order to direct your energy towards the task with the highest priority, try listing out expected outputs instead. Every day, week or month, create a list of the top few results you’re hoping to achieve within a given time frame. It will keep your head clear and help you make decisions when the times comes to prioritising some projects over others.

 

2. Get the "big ticket" items done first

Start your day by focusing on the crucial tasks that must be completed. Those that you are most likely to procrastinate on. Develop the habit of completing the major tasks first thing in the morning and start with those that you’re dreading the most. Having the hardest tasks completed early in the day will let you relax and enjoy the rest of your working day.

 

If you’re still in doubt whether this method works, here is a video that illustrates this concept:

 


 

3. Reduce and manage distractions

According to research,  it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to an  original task after being interrupted. Distractions don’t just take away the time needed to handle a new task that come up, they disturb your mental process and derail your progress for almost half an hour. The new email, phone call or notification popping up on your smartphone can hurt your productivity more than you think.

 

There are plenty of ways to reduce your distractions, so pick and choose the solutions that work best:

  • When working on an important task, switch off most of your forms of communication and keep only one for emergencies.

  • Clear your desk.

  • Set a reminder to ring every 30 minutes to stop you from checking your watch.

  • Before you sit down to work, do a couple of stretches to avoid any pains and aches related to sitting down for a prolonged time.

  • Have a glass of water on your desk so that you don’t have to get up.

  • Change your status to “busy” on all your work chats.

  • Set an automated email response to make sure that everyone is notified of your limited access to emails.

  • Start working earlier in the day before everyone else arrives to the office.

  • Block out time in your calendar to do the work that is being pushed aside by meetings.

 

4. Say ‘no’ to unnecessary meetings

It sounds easy in theory, but in reality it can be challenging to decline a meeting without giving a good reason. One way to do that is to make sure that all the meetings you set up or attend are prepared, have a clear agenda and a limited time frame. There are several ways that this will help you get out of unnecessary meetings:

  • If you’re not feeling prepared for the meeting or think there is more preparation required, it’s a good reason to reschedule, postpone or cancel your attendance.

  • If some key people are away or if you don’t think you could contribute much to the meeting, it’s a good reason to decline.

  • If most of the points on the agenda are irrelevant to you, ask to cover the relevant elements first and then leave the meeting earlier.

 

Another way to evaluate whether the meeting is in fact necessary is to follow this simple chart:

 

 

5. Take a moment to reset and slow down

Look after your own body and mind:

  • When you’re feeling overwhelmed and you feel the stress levels rising, stand up and leave. Whether it’s for a cup of coffee to a local coffee shop or for a walk around the block, try to get a bit of fresh air to clear your head and let your emotions settle.

  • Schedule regular breaks every 60 to 90 minutes into your calendar, even if it’s just for a few minutes, to get a drink or a walk around the office.

  • If your stress levels are reaching their peak, change your working environment: try working from home or from a local cafe. It will help to settle your mind, give you some breathing space and help you focus on important tasks without getting constantly interrupted.

  • Make sure you get around  seven to nine hours of sleep each night - it is crucial for your physical and mental well-being.  Being rested boosts creativity, reduces stress, sharpens your focus and improves your cognitive functions. A good night's sleep will help you to step into a more productive day.

  • Purposely start walking slower and focus on your surroundings.

  • Incorporate little pleasures into your daily routines. Do more of what brings you joy, whether it’s spending time with certain people or in specific situation.

 

Being overly-busy can manifest itself as having a difficulty to focus and concentrate, and can bring feelings of irritability and fatigue. That being said, humans enjoy feeling busy and can draw satisfaction from being absorbed into work. The key is to find the balance. Implementing some of the above tips will help you regain control over your schedule, increase your productivity and let you find satisfaction in your work.

 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the hiring requirements of your business, please get in touch with me through this form and  I will arrange an informal chat to talk you through your outsourcing options.

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