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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 August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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