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5 Ways to Improve Your Productivity in the Office

5 Ways to Improve Your Productivity in the Office

It is possible to find extra time in your day simply by reorganizing the way in which you approach the tasks that fall within your responsibility. Take a look at each of the following areas of your working life and see where you can make improvements which will allow you to put more time into the things you really need to focus your attention on.


1. Communication

One of the most important skills in any business is effective communication. When you are communicating with staff and clients, make sure that all your instructions and information is understood the way you intend it to be. Simply repeating the same request in different words at the end of a conversation can mean the difference between getting the report you want and the one that your staff thought you wanted.

With communication, clarity is the number one objective. You may have a Masters degree in English, but the person you are communicating with may not. By keeping the language you use simple, you increase your chances of having your message understood.

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Just by speaking clearly, concisely and checking that the person you are communicating with has understood what you have said, you can save precious time by getting what you need first time.

2. Planning

This is something that is needed for both repeat projects and larger projects.

Keep a yearly planner on your desk that you record repeat projects (annual/monthly/etc) on so that you can see at a glance when you need to start collecting information for them.

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With larger projects, plan the entire project at the beginning. Break it down into smaller steps and assign a date by which each step should be completed. Delegate any of the project that can be done by someone else, but keep it closely supervised as to who is doing what and when you need it completed by. Once you have planned how you will do the project, you will find that you are less likely to put it off until the last minute.

3. Prioritizing

Jumping around from one project to another, not feeling as if you have accomplished anything each day or constantly rushing to finish on deadlines is a sign that you need to reorganize how you approach your task scheduling and work prioritizing strategy.

Each morning go through your in box and prioritize its contents. Once you know what has to be done, how urgently it is needed, and how long it is likely to take to complete, add the tasks in order of importance to your work schedule for the day. When the mail comes in, prioritize any items that need attention, and then add these to your work schedule.

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At the end of each month take a look at the projects that are known for the month ahead and start to provisionally schedule when you might start working on these so that you start the month already thinking about what needs to be done.

4. Procrastination

For many people, this is the biggest time thief of all! The most vital thing you need to do is to acknowledge that you are guilty of procrastination, and then identify the tasks you tend to put off as long as possible. Once you know which things you are likely to procrastinate about, consider why it is you don’t want to do them. Perhaps they are too large, too boring, or just seem like a waste of your time. By identifying the reasoning behind your procrastination issues, you can find solutions, such as breaking larger projects down into smaller pieces (see planning above), scheduling the boring tasks for first thing in the morning so they are done, and delegating (see delegation below) any tasks that are so routine they feel like a waste of your time. Eliminate procrastination from your working day and see how much more you can accomplish in your day.

5. Delegation

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If you have staff employed to help you, delegate some of your routine tasks which you can quickly instruct someone else to take responsibility of. Remember to communicate the instructions clearly and ensure they are understood before leaving the task in the employees care. Once you delegate something, just a quick review to ensure it’s done correctly and on time is all that you should need to do. Shuffling a few of these tasks to team members will free up your time for more specialized work.

Katie-Anne Gustafsson spent many years in business administration before becoming a WAHM where she learned many of the organisational skills and tools she needs to effectively balance the demands for her daily life.

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Leon Ho

Founder of Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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