Most of us that are gainfully employed have a job title, a description of duties, daily expectations, and deadlines. In a nutshell, our work days should consist of tasks and functions that we regularly perform for our employers and in exchange we receive a paycheck and (hopefully) a feeling of accomplishment. Oh, that sweet, sweet feeling of accomplishment — few things compare to the feeling of a job well done.
But sometimes a dark cloud can creep in and cast its evil shadow on that precious feeling of accomplishment. Our days can get filled up with meetings, phone calls, emails, texts, and a variety of interruptions and distractions. These interruptions disrupt our ability to remain focused on our core responsibilities, posing a threat to our productivity, and that warm feeling of a job well done.
But fear not, here are 4 quick tips that can protect your productivity and make the most of your time at the office:
Avoid Unnecessary Meetings
First off, it should be mentioned that many meetings are vitally important and good communication in the workplace is absolutely essential. That said, there are also a lot of meetings that don’t require face-to-face communication, or that could be just as easily summed up in a well-crafted email.
Guard your time and avoid any meeting that isn’t truly necessary. If a meeting is necessary, make sure there is a clear objective to be accomplished, create an agenda and stick to it. If the meeting requires attendees from multiple locations, you can save everyone travel time and set-up a call-in or web-based meeting.
Automate Your Life
There is a myriad of great software that allows you to save time during the workday. No matter what your occupation, a great piece of productivity software is most likely a mere Google search away.
One simple way to get started is by saving important documents to the “cloud”. Services like Google Docs allow you to collaborate with colleagues on documents and allow you to access your work from almost anywhere. You can also leverage collaborative software like Google Hangouts for video conferencing or remote desktop software to reduce the need to travel for meetings or real-time collaborative projects.
There are also a bunch of great solutions that can automate simple tasks that eat-up valuable time. Saving just ten minutes a day through automation equals more than 40-hours of saved productivity each year — heck, that’s a full work week!
We’ve all heard a co-worker bragging about how well they multi-task. If not, you’ve probably been asked in an interview if you’re able to multi-task, or how well you do so.
Here’s the thing, the experts argue that your brain serves you better if you only focus on one thing at a time. Here’s what Psychology Today, has to say about it:
“The fact is that multitasking, as most people understand it, is a myth that has been promulgated by the ‘technological-industrial complex’ to make overly scheduled and stressed-out people feel productive and efficient.”
Science is mighty, please don’t fight science—instead schedule time to do specific tasks, and try not to bounce between them. Just keep plugging away and knock them out one at a time.
Don’t Be an Inbox Hawk
How great is email? Seriously, it’s one of the greatest communication tools found in the workplace today. Overall, it has significantly improved workplace productivity.
However, many people have become “Inbox Hawks”. As soon as one of the hawks see a new message scurry into their inbox, they lock on, swoop in, read, and respond. This aggressive monitoring and messaging can eat up huge chunks of time and distract from completing current tasks.
Avoid becoming a hawk by following a few simple rules.
- Set aside or schedule time periods throughout your day for responding to email.
- If you know your email task is going to take two minutes or less, do it right away. If not, respond during your scheduled time.
- Try to keep your email to one topic; if someone asks you to respond to multiple topics – address each topic with its own email message – this will make it easier locate later if necessary.
- Use descriptive and topical subject lines – again, this will make it easier to find or reference in the future.
Of course, you will receive emergency emails that warrant an immediate response. But those types of correspondence occur less often than we think.
Hopefully these quick productivity tips will help you make the most of your time at the office and improve that wonderfully sweet feeling of accomplishment. We know that these are just a few time management tips, but they might just improve in the quality of your work, and reduce the stress that comes with that “so much to do, so little time” feeling that we all experience.
We would love to hear some of your tips as well and encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments below!