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Improve productivity with these simple steps



Personal Finance


Does time always seem to fly by for you without any substantial evidence of work? We all have equal number of hours in a day; some are more productive than others, so making the most of your time is critical.

To increase your output–either put in more hours or work smarter. I don’t know about you, but I prefer the latter.

Being more productive at work is not rocket science, but it does require being more deliberate about how you manage your time.

Below are some effective strategies for increasing your productivity.

TIME SPENT ON A TASK. You may think you’re pretty good at gauging how much time you’re spending on various tasks. You should note time spent on each daily task including social media and meetings.

TAKE A BREAK AT INTERVALS. During the lunch break I normally take a routine daily 20 minutes nap. This sounds counterintuitive, but taking this nap helps me to improve concentration in the afternoon sessions so as to maintain a constant level of performance.

WORK UNDER PRESSURE. Most people usually think of stress as a bad thing but a manageable level of self-imposed stress can actually be helpful in terms of giving us focus and helping to meet goals. For any task, try giving yourself a deadline, and then stick to it. You may be surprised to discover just how focused and productive you can be when you’re watching the clock.

DO THE EASY TASK FIRST. If you see a task or action that you know can be done in less time, do it immediately. Completing the task right away actually takes less time than having to get back to it later.

TELECONFERENCING MEETINGS. Meetings are one of the biggest time-sucks around, yet somehow we continue to unquestioningly book them, attend them and, inevitably, complain about them. Before booking your next meeting, ask yourself whether you can accomplish the same goals or tasks via email, phone, or Web-based meeting which may be slightly more productive. If you absolutely must have a meeting, encourage those that can result in increased group participation, decreased territoriality, and improved group performance.

STOP MULTITASKING. While we tend to think of the ability to multi-task as an important skill for increasing efficiency, the opposite may in fact be true. Attempting to do several tasks at once can result in lost time and productivity. Instead, make a habit of committing to a single task before moving on to your next project.

STOP THE ILLUSION OF PERFECTION. It is common for entrepreneurs to get hung up on attempting to perfect a task-—the reality is nothing is ever perfect. Rather than wasting time chasing after this illusion, bang out your task to the best of your ability and move on. It is better to complete the task and move it off your plate; if need be, you can always come back and adjust or improve it later.

TAKE PHYSICAL EXERCISE. Using work time to exercise may actually help improve productivity. If possible, build in set times during the week for taking a walk or going to the gym. Getting your blood pumping could be just what’s needed to clear your head and get your focus back.

BE PROACTIVE, NOT REACTIVE. Set aside time for responding to emails, but don’t let them determine what your day is going to look like. Have a plan of attack at the start of each day, and then do your best to stick to it. Allowing incoming phone calls and emails to dictate how you spend your day will mean you do a great job of putting out fires–but that may be all you get accomplished. During work hours, turn off your notifications, and instead build in time to check email and messages. This is all part of being proactive rather than reactive .

GIVE YOURSELF SOMETHING NICE TO LOOK AT. It may sound unlikely, an office with aesthetically pleasing elements–like plants–can increase productivity by up to 15 percent. Jazz up your office space with pictures, candles, flowers, or anything else that puts a smile on your face.

Minimise interruptions. Having a colleague pop her head into your office to chat may seem innocuous, but even brief interruptions appear to produce a change in work pattern and a corresponding drop in productivity.

Minimising interruptions may mean setting office hours, keeping your door closed, or working from home for time-sensitive projects.

If you feel the need to increase your productivity at work, resist the temptation put in longer hours or pack more into your already-full calendar. Instead, take a step back, and think about ways you can work smarter, not harder.