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  • Writer's pictureDesiree Frye

Ten Steps to Greatness

The key to success is productivity.

People who can focus on tasks, finish them, and wrap up the workday with high-quality output tend to be the rock stars of the office. Your efficiency and productivity may suffer if you don't have any systems in place for planning, time management, monitoring tasks, or prioritizing. You may be surprised how small changes to your work routine can make big changes in your output. How? I'm so glad you asked!

Here are 10 suggestions for increasing productivity.

1. One Thing at a Time

You may be able to walk and chew bubble gum at the same time, but it’s not the best was to approach work. While juggling projects or jobs may ultimately allow you to complete your work, concentrating on one at a time may really increase your productivity. When we focus on multiple things at once, we frequently spend more time just switching between them. This may lead to certain things being left undone or being completed with inferior quality than if each activity had been the full emphasis.

Additionally, focusing on one activity at a time can help you be more productive because you're able to establish one goal at a time rather than several. This will probably encourage you to finish one task before moving on to the next one. Consider prioritizing your projects in order of importance if you are committed to multitasking but find that you start more tasks than you can complete. This will allow you to start the day with the most challenging assignments and end it with simpler and less time-consuming ones.

2. Two Minutes

The two-minute rule states that you should finish chores that take two minutes or less and give yourself two minutes to begin smaller things you might have been putting off. If there is a task you can finish in two minutes or less, or a task you can get organized to start on, you should accomplish it at these brief intervals. For example, it might only take you two minutes to keep track of the tasks you've already finished, reply to a quick email, list your next goals, or print out the outline for your upcoming project assignment, but the two minutes it takes you to finish these small tasks can often add up to a finished to-do list at the end of the day.

Those two minute tasks add up, contributing significantly to your overall job productivity. The two-minute rule can help you focus on smaller activities in between working on larger and more difficult projects. Stuff like answering low-priority but necessary e-mails, filing your day's paperwork, alphabetizing your paperclips, returning that pen you 'accidently' stole from your co-worker - those nagging tasks add up and will eventually break the camel's back (you're the camel in that analogy).

3. Take A Break Already

It may be tempting to put off taking a break, but if you don't allow yourself a little break, it may hinder your overall productivity by making you tired or burned out. You might not have the energy or motivation to keep moving forward if this occurs.

Consider scheduling numerous quick breaks during your workday. [Cough. Coffee. Cough.] These little breaks can help you refuel, unwind, and prepare for the next task.

4. Short Meetings

If you have meetings scheduled throughout the day, think of methods to make them more efficient. Think about standing meetings, where everyone has to stand up. That'll keep those Chatty Cathys from oversharing.

To keep track of how long it takes to attend and end the meeting, you may also use time monitoring. For instance, give each topic a particular amount of time and make notes on the most crucial takeaways or themes that need to be covered. Then, work with your team to only talk about the things that are on the topic list and to keep topic conversations to the timeframes given for them.

You may be able to improve your odds that the meeting won't take too much time away from your own responsibilities if you can reasonably attend it over the phone or through a web-based platform.

5. Baby Steps

Set small goals throughout your day as opposed to big ones. Small, everyday goals you can set and accomplish during your eight hours at work include things like filing necessary documentation, replying to customer emails, or gathering all the materials your team will need to finish a future project. Similar to how you would use milestones to track your work toward a longer goal, you might utilize these short targets.

6. (Temporary) Closed Door Policy

A former co-worker of mine put headsets on and a sign on the back of his cubicle chair that said 'Working. Please Don't Interrupt." (He was eventually let go, but I'm sure that had nothing to do with it.) We can be seriously distracted throughout the day by interruptions. Even if you appreciate your relationships with your coworkers, losing track of time due to conversations, informal meetings, or topic discussions might impede your workflow and lower your productivity as a whole. To reduce the number of interruptions you experience throughout the day, think about employing certain tactics.

To assist reduce the sounds of office discussion and interaction, you could decide to work with your office door closed for some of the day or, if you work in an open-office setting, you could use noise-canceling headphones. Using headphones can also be a considerate, silent approach to inform your coworkers that you need to focus on the tasks at hand.

7. Eat A Frog

There’s a popular book called Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less (by Brian Tracy) which recommends that you complete (eat) your least favorite task (that frog) first thing each day. I assume he's not talking about fried frog legs, because those don't taste half bad, actually.

It may actually be easier for you to stay focused if you work on your biggest and most time-consuming activities first rather than smaller and quicker ones. If you want to devote your time to these duties in the morning when you first arrive at work or at a time of day when you are the most awake and motivated, consider organizing your assignment list according to these tasks.

8. Time Block

You can boost your productivity by using time blocks in your plan. You would use this method to give each task you work on a time constraint. Consider one-hour time chunks. You might decide to print out your schedule and mark the times when you want your time blocks to be present. Thus, mark on your printed schedule that you are allotting 60-90 minutes to work on a certain assignment. Once that period of time is gone, block out another similar portion of your schedule.

By using time blocking, you can make a visual plan to track the durations of the tasks you work on. Similar to that, it allows you to focus solely on one activity for each block of time, increasing the likelihood that you will finish it by the deadline you set. You can schedule your breaks in between each task block in addition to your working hours so you can take a break when you finish one thing and begin another.

9. Pomodoro Technique

Your ability to manage your time effectively can have a big impact on how productive you are at work, and the Pomodoro method is one tactic you could find useful. The Pomodoro approach uses a timer and is similar to scheduled breaks in that you commit to a job for 20 minutes (though you can extend this to 30 minutes), work on it until the timer goes off, and then take a five-minute break. This method can be efficient because it gives you more uninterrupted time for focused work and a way to take a short break from the task before finishing it.

10. Delegate

Doctors do it. Soldiers do it. Even the birds and the bees do it.

And lawyers, and general contractors, and CEOs too. To distribute responsibilities among your team members, take into account employing delegation techniques. For instance, if you have a long list of activities to perform, think about delegating some of them to others if they can be finished without your involvement.

While the rest of the team is focusing on the activities that might otherwise divert time or resources from other, more crucial initiatives, you can work on other assignments that may have been particularly given to you alone by delegating tasks. Consider delegating a task to a coworker who can respond to emails with the same level of care and precision as you, for instance, while you focus on important assignments that no one else can (or is allowed to) finish. I'm not sure if you can delegate that frog thing, though.

Did you make it this far? Excellent - now go be great!

You may find that not all of these tips work for you, but even a few will step up your productivity a notch or two. You can be sure that as you continue to learn and advance your abilities, your productivity will increase. At the end of the day, even the smallest improvements to your output will boost your confidence and self-esteem as well – bonus!


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