Like any relationship, our workspaces need us to care for them to keep the magic alive. Here are 3 tips you can use to increase your productivity at work.
Operate Within a Schedule
“But that sounds so boring.” I know. It can be. But in this case, it won’t be because we’re going to be intentional about it. Grab a pad of paper and your favorite colored pen. I want you to write down all the things that you ALWAYS (on auto-pilot) do during the week. Some of these activities will be repeated multiple times a day, but you only need to write them down once. At this point, I just want you to see where you’re spending your time. (If you make 5 stops at the water cooler in a day, you should probably write those down too.)
Now here’s the fun part – the part where we mix things up a bit. In order to increase your productivity (the speed at which you produce profitable output), I want you to pencil in those tasks using this handy time-blocking schedule. (Yes, I said pencil….because you might want to erase things. If you’re a devoted pen user, then you might want to just print another copy OR open an Excel spreadsheet.)
When we schedule our mundane tasks, we create healthy limits and a bit of a game. You’ll need to finish the tasks written into each slot ON TIME in order to maintain your efficiency. When you finish early, your brain responds with a chemical boost. Don’t believe me? Here’s a synopsis of a few studies that looked into the “gaming effect” on the human brain. Now, the opposite effect occurs when we “lose,” so part of this exercise is to adjust your schedule each week based on how much time it actually takes you to complete your tasks.
Creating a schedule will minimize time wasters. It helps you to pay more attention to the tasks at hand, and removes some of that auto-pilot effect.
We can all tout the benefits of setting goals, but how many times do we actually SET goals for ourselves in the workplace? If you’re an entrepreneur, goal setting is your life. You start with the biggest end goal you can fathom and work backwards, breaking each goal down into bite-sized chunks. The same is true for the receptionist of a small company. Start with the end goal (which may be a team effort between all parties in the company), identify what parts pertain to you, and then work backwards. Break the goals into such small pieces that you can work on them for just 10 minutes a day to continue toward your goal.
A recent goal I had for myself was to write an e-book. Sounds a lot easier than done….just like being productive! Writing the content wasn’t even a third of the work it took to get the e-book live. I would have known that, and been better able to plan my evenings (working after the kids went to bed) IF I had taken the time to task analyze each part of the bigger goal on paper instead of just jumping into what I THOUGHT was the proper process. Don’t waste your time, invest it toward something great!
Rethink Your Workspace
Finally, take a look at the physical space around you. Do you even like your workspace? Research has proven that when we are unhappy with our workspace, we tend to work less. We avoid the space, find ways to waste time in the space (like trolling social media), and produce lower quality work. If you don’t like your space, identify why. Do you need better lighting? Buy a lamp. Do you hate your pens? Find ones that write like they cost a million bucks. And what about your desk? Reviews.com just published a recent study identifying the best standing desk. If sitting has got you in a rut, consider upgrading to a desk that adjusts in height. These desks allow your creativity, comfort, and design needs to be met all at once, increasing your productivity.
I’d love to hear from you! How are you becoming more productive at work? Share your stories and strategies in the comments below.