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5 Times When Less Is More At Work

5 Times When Less Is More At Work

How many times do you say ‘I haven’t got enough time’ at work? If you are like me, probably a few times a day at least. The bad news is we are not using our time productively. The good news is with a few hacks, we can say less is more at work.

1. Take a few more breaks

This seems like a contradiction when time is so scarce. But when you think about it, it makes sense because when you are tired, you make more mistakes and are prone to bad decisions. Research shows the more breaks you have the more productive you become. Breaks can be a respite from mental activity such as surfing the web or a more physical one when you stretch, talk a walk outside or have a real coffee break. Watch the video below where, in a few more enlightened companies, the policy is to take, not just a break, but a nap!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6t9wKu2s0GQ

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The results are there for all to see. Healthier, more relaxed employees work better and are more productive.

2. Spend less time gossiping

Gossip can be trivial or toxic. When you start wasting time on the toxic stuff, be prepared for this to come back and haunt you. It can spoil relationships and fuel resentment. The statistics on this are shocking as well. According to some Dutch researchers, a whopping 90% of office conversation is gossip. It also creeps into emails where it can take up as much as 15%.

So, while gossip can be useful sometimes in helping to isolate slackers, it is generally best to avoid. The first thing you can do is leave it out of your emails. That is a good start. For the rest, gossip is like weeds in the lawn and your best defense is your right to remain silent, when you feel it is choking the atmosphere. If you have problems in escaping, don’t forget you have an important phone call to make!

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3. Cut out being overly competitive

If you are competitive and trying to get one up on your colleagues all the time, you could be shooting yourself in the foot. According to one UK poll conducted by YouGov, about 33% of workers are very competitive. But almost half of the workers surveyed thought this destroyed team spirit.

Competition can be positive, of course. Most employees want to get up that career ladder. You have to find a good balance, though. If you are always trying to be the best and are always sucking up to the boss, then this will breed mistrust and resentment. You could become very unpopular.

4. Reduce multi-tasking

Reducing multi-tasking can have enormous benefits. With a little bit of better planning, you can get going on projects and keep a laser focus on the important tasks. Here are a few tips to help you do just that.

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  • Cut your to-do list to the bare minimum of the top five priorities. This is the recommendation from Laura Vanderkam, who wrote the book, “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.”
  • Stop the knee-jerk reflexes when responding to emails as they come in. Yes, I know some emails require an immediate response but they are in a minority. You can also alert colleagues they cannot expect a reply within a certain time span.
  • Try to do the top priority tasks early in the morning before you get submerged by phone calls and meetings. Make sure this time is not interrupted.
  • Make sure incoming message notifications on all your devices are blocked.
  • Use your smartphone alarms to help you stay on task.

“Email is the world’s most convenient procrastination device.” Julie Morgenstern

5. Spend less time eating at your desk

If you think grabbing a sandwich to eat at your desk is a good idea, think again! This reduces your networking time with colleagues and associates when you could be eating with them. This time is a great investment because you can:

  • Build a more extensive network
  • Concentrate on getting to know other hubs and units
  • Ask for help and advice
  • Share tips on problem-solving
  • Discuss new projects

Think about that sandwich. It saved you 20 minutes but was that a wise investment of your time?

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Try cutting out all the time wasting unproductive stuff we have mentioned above. Go for more laser-focused work and you will be able to leave the office on time, instead of burning the midnight oil. Let us know in the comments how you discovered less is more at work.

Featured photo credit: Time to go home/Alan Cleaver via Flickr

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

More About Boosting Productivity

Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

Reference

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