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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 27, 2020

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

Here’s How to Create a To-Do List that Super Boosts Your Productivity.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

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These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

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You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks

9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

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When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

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When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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