Whether you are a business owner, team leader or administrative assistant, being productive at work comes in waves. Somedays, you’re on top of everything; some days you feel like you’re drowning. It’s definitely a delicate balance and there’s no surefire formula for being highly-productive every single day, in every single scenario, but most experts agree with some form of the following five steps to increasing productivity:
Schedule an appointment with yourself.
One woman says she makes an appointments with herself in an effort to have uninterrupted time to tackle demanding tasks. These appointments with yourself should go on the calendar and be treated as tasks that are as important as other meetings and daily commitments. Don’t break it – keep it – and you’ll feel more productive at the end of the day.
Create to-do lists.
Whether you use a trusty legal pad or a digital calendar/planner to organize your tasks, the point is to simply make that list. The act of bringing tasks from your mind to a defined spot will help ease mental fatigue and give you your goals for the hour, day or week ahead.
Be sure to take breaks.
You might think plowing through the to-do list is the best way to feel productive at the end of the day, but taking regular breaks is important not only for your mental health but also your physical health. Grab a balanced snack (not more caffeine) and a glass of water. Stand for awhile or even take a short walk. Eat lunch in the breakroom, not at your desk.
All of these suggestions provide a mental break from your email, phone and cluttered desk to signal an actual “rest” period for your brain. Plus, studies show that getting up at least every hour is important to prevent headaches, back, neck and eye strain, stiffness and other soreness related to sitting or being hunched over for 8 hours daily.
Improve your email etiquette.
A Forbes writer said it best in his article, 9 Habits of Productive People: “Email is a productivity killer and usually a distraction from tasks that actually matter–don’t fall into this productivity trap. For example, people often copy multiple people on emails to get it off their plate, but this is a sign of laziness and actually distracts everyone else by creating noise against the tasks they’re trying to accomplish.
“As a rule, if you receive an email where many people are CC’d, do everyone a favor by BCC’ing them on your reply. If your email chain goes beyond two replies, it’s time to pick up the phone.”
Delegate tasks that you don’t have to do.
You might think, “it’s easier for me to do this myself than to train someone else how to do it.” While that might be true for single tasks that won’t ever be repeated, in reality it’s likely better to train someone else to do important filing, procedural activities and other tasks that don’t require your expert attention. By delegating, you free up time for more meaningful tasks. And, if you ever want to take a vacation or have to take a sick day, you’ll be glad the work is still getting done.
Whatever a productive day looks like for you, try applying some of these tactics to help you maximize efficiency and get even more accomplished.