Consider productivity at work. You might think you could get more done if only you had more hours in the day. But your capacity for getting work done is more nuanced than that.
An Accountemps survey found 65 percent of professionals believe they are more productive during the holidays. Could it be that they’re motivated to work smarter and increase their work performance so they can take time off later?
What if that holiday spirit gave a boost to workplace productivity all year long? You’d definitely get more done.
Meanwhile, if you want to turn every day into a day of productivity at work, you can get started with these 15 tips.
1. Trim the to-do list
Too often people overestimate what they can accomplish at work and become frustrated by their lack of progress. Try a shorter, more realistic to-do list that leaves room for unexpected projects and interruptions will help you be more productive.
2. Aim for quality, not quantity
Multitasking seems like a good way to increase productivity, but repeatedly switching gears is mentally taxing and can slow you down. Do your best to focus on one item at a time.
3. Know your prime time for productivity
Use your internal clock to your advantage by tackling critical or challenging assignments during the time of day when you’re most alert and productive.
4. Bring in reinforcements
If everyone is efficient and productive, yet your team is still falling behind, consider asking for temporary reinforcements. Hiring specialized temporary professionals is a cost-effective way for employers to meet rising business demands while lifting the burden off overworked core employees.
5. Post a 'Do Not Disturb' sign
When working on important assignments, boost productivity by turning off mobile devices and signing out of email and social media. Doing so allows you to give full attention to the task at hand. Also, don’t be afraid to occasionally post a “do not disturb” sign in your workspace.
6. Explore project apps
Take advantage of the wide selection of software specifically designed to help people increase productivity, keep track of projects, meet deadlines and be more organized. Evernote and Focus Booster are two free apps worth trying.
7. Break down big projects
Intimidation can lead to procrastination. So break big, complicated projects into smaller, more manageable tasks. You’ll feel less overwhelmed. Plus, you’ll gain a sense of accomplishment each time you reach an incremental milestone.
8. Just say 'no' (and 'yes' to productivity at work)
Sometimes you simply can’t take on another assignment no matter how small. Give yourself permission to say “no” at times. While you want to build a reputation as a team player, you can’t afford to become a doormat in the process.
9. Closely monitor your online reading habits
Keep your focus when online. If you’re not disciplined, one second you’re reading an industry report, the next you’re scanning Facebook, and a few minutes later you’re staring at a post about 16 Glorious Ways To Make Mac ‘N’ Cheese. (We'll help you out by not giving you that link!)
10. Take care of your health
Productivity at work can hinge on what you do off the job. Eat healthy, exercise regularly and get adequate sleep. Being out of balance in any of those three areas can throw off your ability to concentrate.
11. Mitigate meeting mania
Humorist Dave Barry once observed: “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be meetings.” Rethink routine meetings that have outlived their purpose. Or prune meeting times by 25 percent to force yourself and others to stay on point.
12. Give yourself a break
It sounds counterintuitive, but taking time to unplug and recharge can help you get more done. Solutions to complex problems often surface when we’re not intently focused on the issue. Likewise, getting some fresh air or engaging in water cooler banter can help you recharge.
13. Clean up your act
If you regularly lose time because you’re scrambling to find files, go in early or stay late one day to do a clean sweep of your desk. Then, get into the habit of investing a few minutes each day to organize and tidy up.
14. Recondition your email reflexes
Chances are you read email the instant it arrives. Fight the impulse to immediately react when you hear the pinging sound of an incoming message. Pick specific times to check your inbox throughout the day.
15. Reward yourself
When you reach a milestone or finish a project, give yourself a pat on the back — and more. Go out to lunch or dinner, quit work early, go for a run, have some fun. Reward yourself often for performance well done.
Want to read more about productivity at work? Read the Five Trouble Spots That Hurt Employee Productivity Most. Also see the results of another of our surveys, which shows just how special Tuesdays are.