Productivity is critical to becoming successful at work. Business owners, managers, and executives all want to get the most from their employees. The long-term job prospects could be in trouble if performance is not as efficiently or effectively as others. Being productive isn’t about getting more time so you can work more. Instead, you should strive to be productive to spend as much time as possible doing what you love and spending time with the people who truly matter. To get more done at work (and have more time to spend doing what you love), consider these simple tips to increase productivity:
1. Track and limit how much time you’re spending on tasks.
Many people think they are pretty good at gauging how much time spending on various tasks. However, some research suggests only around 17 percent of people are able to accurately estimate the passage of time. A tool like Rescue Time, which is a time-management program that monitors what you do on a computer and provides a daily report of your productivity, it can help by letting you know exactly how much time you spend on daily tasks, including social media, email, word processing, and apps.
2. Work in your own time-minute intervals.
Researchers at Florida State University have found elite performers (athletes, chess players, musicians, etc.) who work in intervals of no more than 90 minutes are more productive than those who work 90 minutes-plus. They also found that top performing subjects tend to work no more than 4.5 hours per day. This is can be adjusted to your needs in term of a time interval. You can start the interval time minimum 20 minutes per time interval, then see what is the suitable interval times for you.
3. Take regular breaks.
It sounds counterintuitive, but taking scheduled breaks can actually help improve concentration. Some research has shown that taking short breaks during long tasks helps you to maintain a constant level of performance; while working at a task without breaks leads to a steady decline in performance.
4. Take exercise breaks.
Using work time to exercise may actually help improve productivity, according to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. If possible, build in set times during the week for taking a walk or going to the gym. If you have no time, you can break it down in between your working hours. Getting your blood pumping could be just what’s needed to clear your head and get your focus back.
5. Give yourself something nice to look at.
It may sound unlikely, but some research shows outfitting 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.
6. Set self-imposed deadlines.
While we usually think of a stress as a bad thing, a manageable level of self-imposed stress can actually be helpful in terms of giving us focus and helping us meet our goals. For open-ended tasks or projects, 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.
7. Follow the “two-minute rule.”
Entrepreneur Steve Olenski recommends implementing the “two-minute rule” to make the most of the small windows of time that you have at work. The idea is this: If you see a task or action that you know can be done in two minutes or less, do it immediately. According to Olenski, completing the task right away actually takes less time than having to get back to it later. Implementing this has made him one of the most influential content strategists online.
8. Just say no to 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. According to Atlassian, the average office worker spends over 31 hours each month in unproductive meetings. 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).
9. Quit multitasking.
Often we tend to think of the ability to multitask as an important skill for increasing efficiency, but the opposite may, in fact, be true. Psychologists have found 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.
10. Use productivity tools.
There are a number of tools you can use to reduce the amount of time you spend in front of a computer. Apart from Rescue Time, Podomoro can help you to remind and to do your project in certain given time including reminders of its break. Another tool such as Unroll Me is a simple tool that hunts down all your subscriptions so you can look at them in a single email, unsubscribe from unwanted lists or ignore the email and keep it “as is.” There are many productivity tools out there, find one that is suitable for you.
11. Give up on the illusion of perfection.
It’s common 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’s 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.
12. Minimize interruptions (to the best of your ability).
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. Minimizing interruptions may mean setting office hours, keeping your door closed, or working from home for time-sensitive projects. Create interruption buffers by identifying how you’re often interrupted and take a proactive approach that prevents them from happening when you’re engaged in an important task.
The important thing when the interruption is coming is to understand that they happen and to have a plan for when they occur. 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.