10 tips to improve productivity at work and in life

Corporate Project Management

There’s an old saying that still holds true today: “If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backwards”. Whether in work or personal life, getting stuff done is vital to moving forward. Improve productivity at work with these proven strategies!

But just “getting stuff done” is not as simple as it sounds. The modern world is full of distractions and it’s not always easy to focus on ticking things off your to-do list.

Having a strategy to improve productivity at work is vital for making the most of your time and ensuring that tasks don’t linger on your to-do list forevermore. Below are a few tips for increasing your productivity at home and in your career.

1. Prioritise your health

The modern workforce recognises that being healthy has a symbiotic relationship with your productivity. Being healthy, both physically and mentally, helps to promote productivity, while being productive can often also help to improve your physical and mental health.

Being physically healthy provides increased energy and focus which can be channelled into productivity, while being mentally healthy decreases mental “clutter” and also improves focus.

By making your health a priority you’ll not only see improvements to your productivity, but also to your life as a whole.

2. Write a to-do list

Writing a to-do list is a great way to visualise and organise the tasks that need your attention. This can be done digitally or in a physical notepad.

Having all of your tasks in front of you in black and white is the first step in getting things done. It ensures that tasks are not forgotten and also provides an opportunity to break down and prioritise tasks, ensuring they’re completed in the most logical order.

3. Make mountains into molehills

Knowing there’s a huge, complicated task that needs completing can be daunting and will often lead to procrastination.

Breaking down large tasks into smaller ones avoids becoming overwhelmed and ensures that progress is consistently made towards the end goal.

4. Prioritise tasks to improve productivity at work

You can’t work on everything at once and some tasks will need to take priority over others. The Eisenhower Matrix is a task management tool that helps prioritise tasks based on scales of urgency and importance. The basic principles are as follows

  • Tasks that are both important and urgent should be completed ASAP
  • Tasks that are important but not urgent should be scheduled
  • Tasks that are urgent but not important should be delegated
  • Tasks that are not urgent and not important should be deleted

Following this simple formula will ensure that tasks are completed in the most effective order.

5. Stop multitasking

Multitasking is often glorified but the reality is that if you are working on two tasks at once, you can only give 50% of your focus to each, 3 tasks and it’s 33%, 4 tasks and it’s just 25%!

This often results in tasks being finished to a passable standard rather than a good standard, and that’s the tasks that don’t fall off the radar completely. Carl Garner-Watts, Content Marketer for exhibition stand contractor Quadrant2Design told us “There’s a reason why multitasking is compared to spinning plates. Because when things fall off, they usually break!”

Instead, give 100% of your focus to each task, get it done, and then move on to the next task when you can also give it your undivided attention.

6. Implement a “do not disturb”

Distraction is the enemy of productivity and we are surrounded by distractions every single day!

This can be the things going on around us as well as interruptions from colleagues, friends and family. According to getAbstract, after every interruption it can take up to 30 minutes to regain focus!

Implementing a “do not disturb” can go a long way towards keeping these interruptions to a minimum. This could be a literal “do not disturb” like an email function, a physical sign, or something more metaphorical like wearing headphones or closing your office door to let everyone know that you are focused on a task.

7. Avoid self-distractions

GetAbstract suggests that roughly half of the distractions that we face day-to-day are self-distractions like checking our phones. Studies have identified that we check our phones between 150-221 times a day, which adds up to a lot of wasted time!

Remove these distractions by making a conscious effort to not check your phone or social media while working. Logging out of social media accounts, leaving your phone on silent, or leaving it somewhere else altogether, during working hours will help to minimising these distractions.

8. Take regular breaks

It may sound counter-productive, but taking regular breaks throughout the day can actually help to increase your productivity.

Harvard Business Review suggests that human beings cannot maintain high levels of performance over extended periods of time. We have a limited capacity for focused attention and must take regular breaks to recharge and refocus.

These breaks are not the same as interruptions. They are planned, deliberate and should allow a genuine break from concentrated thought.

9. “A tidy desk is a tidy mind”

Admittedly this is a bit cliché, but keeping your physical workspace tidy is proven to decrease stress and increase productivity.

Not only will you save yourself the trouble of digging through piles of paperwork, but you’ll also avoid the stress, hassle and wasted time associated with not finding what you need.

By keeping your workspace organised it allows you to easily move from one task to the next without starting the organisation process all over again.

10. Ditch the snooze button

Taking time to rest is important for avoiding burnout and should be encouraged but, on days allocated to improve productivity at work (like work days), avoid repeatedly snoozing your alarm.

Instead, make an effort to start the day with enthusiasm – get up and get at it! You’ll be glad you did when you see what you’ve achieved by mid-morning.

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