In today’s working world, we’re either looking for tricks to get things done quicker or giving into distractions that draw out our workday.
Most productivity hacks are bandages for unhealthy work behavior, like an inability to dig into a task and motor through to completion. Sometimes work requires a head-down attitude, and this means knowing how to pull out of distractions and refocus your attention.
The tricks below don't reduce workload, but they do enable employees to stay engaged and complete tasks more efficiently.
Get More Out Of Your Workday With These Productivity Hacks
- Limit distractions in the office.
Sometimes working inside the office with friendly coworkers turns into a day of distractions, especially when they can approach you at any moment with questions or concerns that might have otherwise been communicated via email or interoffice chat.
Working from home on certain tasks may be one way to limit distractions when working on an important, creative project. But, because collaboration is best executed in the office with everyone present, it’s not always the best option.
It’s up to you to deflect distractions while you’re in the office, whether that means wearing ear buds to indicate a “do not disturb” status or setting predefined office hours. Maybe you go to an empty conference room and close the door – whatever works for you to let coworkers know that you are not to be distracted unless absolutely necessary.
Research suggests that email takes up about 28% of the average workday, which makes it the second most time-consuming task in anyone’s workday. Try checking email once every hour instead. Turn off or silent your phone and desktop notifications, and focus on the task at hand.
It’s also important to take breaks and allow your brain the time to recharge. The natural attention span lasts 90 minutes, with recommended 20-minute breaks to regain focus. During breaks, read an educational article online, go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air or chat with a coworker. Disconnecting, whether it be from technology or a project you’ve been focused on, gives you a chance to renew your energy and refocus.
- Leverage technology.
Microsoft offers multiple tools that maximize productivity by keeping track of your schedule, to-do list and deadlines – all from a single interface. This greatly reduces the need to jump back and forth between programs. Not to mention, you can access the apps from anywhere and on any device.
Use Outlook to create checklists, organize tasks by priority, establish timelines and deadlines, assign items to other people in the company and schedule group meetings with ease. Instead of spending time asking or worrying about when someone is free, simply check their availability by viewing their calendar. Calendar tools and additional integrated Microsoft applications are designed to help you keep track of your busy schedule and others’, as well as the work that needs to get done.
Automation frees up time for other tasks. For example, CRM software organizes contacts and vital sales information. Use templates to help write emails regarding sales leads, sales reports and company progress updates.
Overall, software initiatives (like investing in CRM software) align with operational excellence goals and improve company processes, which also serve to maximize productivity and efficiency.
- Make lists.
To-do lists help you stay on task and organized. Lists keep you aware of deadlines, and the very action of checking off an item on your to-do list produces an even greater drive to check off other, similar tasks.
- Remove clutter.
Removing physical and mental clutter means removing distractions. Removing mental clutter can be as simple as starting and ending the day with a “brain dump," freeing your mind to tackle the day’s responsibilities or wind down and spend quality time at home. Simple chores, such as cleaning up your desk, filing away completed paperwork and reorganizing to-do lists from the previous day or week, keep you focused while helping to prioritize what really needs to be completed this afternoon or tomorrow.
If you want to empower your team (and yourself) to move your company forward, you need to practice healthy work habits. Take small steps like the ones above to make your workday easier. Many businesses operate at a fast pace, and you may never see through the dust to take a breather. But you must learn better time management and personal organization if you aim to increase productivity and stay engaged.
Hack through productivity problems in your company, and get the most out of your technology. Personal downtime is necessary for regaining focus, but technology downtime is completely avoidable. For five tips in 30 minutes to prevent digital downtime, consult with a PointMan™.