Get organised, kick ass and get home on time.
Lets be honest we all , pretty much, have the same hopes for our work day. We want to get our work done efficiently, impress our managers and get home as early as possible. Simple, in theory. If you feel that you are swamped from the minute you reach your desk we have some tried and tested tips to boost your productivity to Jedi level.
Make a daily list:
This may seem like a pretty obvious tip but it is amazing how many people don’t avail of this key task. A simple list can be drawn up at the end of the day for the following day or first thing. You can also prioritise the list in order of importance which will give you a good sense of how to optimize your time during the day.
Want to do this on your computer? There are so many free apps like Airtable that have great options. If you want to take your organisation to the next level you could use a paid tool like Monday.com which has advanced features such as Task Timing, Allocation
Kill 2 Minute tasks immediately:
When you make your daily list you should identify a pool of the smallest tasks and tackle them within your first 45 minutes. This allows you to focus on the priority tasks of the day without potential interruptions from team members who may have a stake in those small tasks being completed (as part of their own efforts)
Have a desk diary…and put everything into it:
Those multi-coloured post-it notes all across your desk are not only cluttering your area, they are also likely to get misplaced/binned in time with that important phone number or piece of detail you were looking for.. Any key information you need to record at meetings, from talk points, tasks or important results should be kept in one place. The ideal diary should be at least A5 in size so that you can add all your daily notes for reference.
Be Proactive. Not Reactive:
The incoming calls and emails should not dictate your work day as a general rule. If they do, all you are achieving in the day is to put out fires. If you have set out your plan/goals for the week you should prioritise these first as ultimately this will bring more value to your employer/company in the long run. A good tip to help in this is to reduce the time spent checking emails during the day as the natural reaction is to respond (therin wasting your key task time)
Work in 90 minute blocks:
It has been scientifically proven that performance and concentration will dip significantly after 90 minutes so take a short break when you hit this mark and your work will thank you for it.
Do that dreaded/most pressing task after exercise:
Even a brisk 10 minute walk can be enough to get the body moving, get some fresh air and set you up for a focused mindset to tackle the main task of the day.
Want to maximize your lunch hour? How about you get some exercise for 30 minutes then have some lunch while you recover. You will then return to your desk re-invigorated, relaxed and focused. It really works. Try it and see.
You don’t have to lock yourself away in your office (if John from accounts keeps popping across to chat about last nights football results) but you can take steps should you feel you are falling behind due to interruptions. If you work on a laptop at your desk and you are close to a more private area with WiFi (Other offices, Quiet Area, External Coffee Shop) you could temporarily relocate until you complete your task. If you have no option to remove yourself from the environment you can/should politely ask people to give you some time to lock-down until you have completed a key task. It’s a very reasonable request if you are under deadline pressure.
It is very important to keep social interaction with your team members so get selfish for the time needed to complete the task then you can put the kettle on and have a cuppa with your colleagues when the time is right.
Have a simple work uniform:
Ok this may be more about your pre-work preparation but it also helps you to get your day moving faster. You don’t have to go full Mark Zuckerburg with 5 days of black t-shirts and blue jeans but there is actual method in his madness. Whether your workplace is formal or not, if you can keep your palette simple you will genuinely shave minutes off your morning routine by removing decisions/choices on what clothing items compliment etc. If you love your fashion too much and don’t want to give up on your individuality you could make a compromise to yourself by planning and hanging your outfits for the following week in your wardrobe over the weekend. This will still save you time on those mornings when you are under pressure to make a train etc.
Delegate when drowning:
If you are part of a wider group project and feel that you are taking the lion’s share of the workload you need to delegate. “But will this not look like I’m putting my shoulder to the wheel?” Well, in a word, no. If you are drowning in the task load, this may be hurting the pace of the project. A good suggestion would be to document what you have been covering in terms of tasks etc. (using your lists , see we told you they would be invaluable) then you could easily explain should you be asked that you had to delegate some tasks to try and bring the project in line with desired timelines. Experienced senior staff should be able to understand the value of someone who can think pragmatically and sensibly in terms of getting a project over the line. Moral of the story. Delegate