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5 Ways to Be More Productive in the Office

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5 Ways to Be More Productive in the Office


    Have you ever felt like you’re constantly chasing your tail at work?

    Too many scheduled meetings and then there’s the emails flying into your inbox so fast you barely have time to look at them? And yet, at the end of the day you haven’t got much done. Nothing to show for the hours of ‘hard work’ you’ve put in.

    There’s nothing worse than having an unproductive day at the office. And yet in my opinion it’s pretty easy to waste a lot of time in an office environment.

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    There are ‘unsaid’ rules that we abide by:

    • Meetings are important.
    • Email is king.
    • We must ‘look busy’ even if we’re not.
    • We must ‘look stressed’ — otherwise we can’t possibly be busy.

    The best thing you can do is throw all of these outdated rules out the window and replace them with one rule:

    Focus on output

    Not how many minutes or hours you ‘put in’, but the ‘results’ you ‘get out’ of your day.

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    The thing is, a lot of people don’t really care about results – they just care about ‘feeling busy’ and working long hours for the sake of it. But when you switch from a ‘busy’ mindset to a ‘results’ mindset your whole world starts to change.

    You have more time to spend on the important things, which equates to more results.

    Here are my top 5 tips for being productive in the office:

    1. Prioritize

    Focus on a maximum of 3 priorities each day.

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    This means ‘ignoring’ everything else on your list…until tomorrow. When we’re distracted and overwhelmed by a long list of ‘to do’ items, we can find it hard to focus on getting ‘anything’ done and procrastination takes over! Cut back and focus on the 3 most important things ONLY.

    2. Always do the most important things first

    Never, never, never start your day with your easiest or most liked tasks. Always start off with the hardest, most important task. Because this is the only way you’ll get it done.

    If you leave the hardest task until last guess what happens? You run out of time and it doesn’t get done. By tackling your hardest task first you can be certain it will get done no matter what happens.

    3. Take control of email

    For many of us, email is like a wild beast that takes over our office life. Take control of your email by limiting the time you spend checking and replying to emails. Just because there are emails there, doesn’t mean you have to reply to them all immediately. The world won’t end if you reply to an email an hour or two after it was sent.

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    I recommend only checking email 3 times a day max. Once in the morning, once just after lunch and once late afternoon. You’ll notice how much quicker you reply when you do it in bursts too. See my recent email tips for more tricks to control your emails.

    4. Make all meetings 20 minutes long

    Meetings can be the biggest waste of time. There’s an unspoken rule that all meetings must be for an hour. Why? How can all ‘topics’ neatly fit into a one-hour time slot?

    Cut down meetings to a 20 minute maximum. One way to speed them up is to do meetings standing up – people seem to magically get across their point much quicker when they’re not lounging around a board room table.

    5. Always have an agenda for all meetings

    Many meetings run over because there’s no structure to them. Insist all meeting owners provide a full agenda before any meeting detailing exactly what they want to discuss. This forces the meeting owner to do a lot of the work before the meeting and reduces any time wastage during the meeting itself.

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    (Photo credit: Fast Typist via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    Zoe B

    A strategist, coach and blogger who shows people how to stop what isn't working for them in life and to start to plan the life they really want.

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    Last Updated on November 15, 2021

    20 Ways to Describe Yourself in a Job Interview

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    20 Ways to Describe Yourself in a Job Interview

    “Please describe yourself in a few words”.

    It’s the job interview of your life and you need to come up with something fast. Mental pictures of words are mixing in your head and your tongue tastes like alphabet soup. You mutter words like “deterministic” or “innovativity” and you realize you’re drenched in sweat. You wish you had thought about this. You wish you had read this post before.

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      Image Credit: Career Employer

      Here are 20 sentences that you could use when you are asked to describe yourself. Choose the ones that describe you the best.

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      “I am someone who…”:

      1. “can adapt to any situation. I thrive in a fluctuating environment and I transform unexpected obstacles into stepping stones for achievements.”
      2. “consistently innovates to create value. I find opportunities where other people see none: I turn ideas into projects, and projects into serial success.”
      3. “has a very creative mind. I always have a unique perspective when approaching an issue due to my broad range of interests and hobbies. Creativity is the source of differentiation and therefore, at the root of competitive advantage.”
      4. “always has an eye on my target. I endeavour to deliver high-quality work on time, every time. Hiring me is the only real guarantee for results.”
      5. “knows this job inside and out. With many years of relevant experience, there is no question whether I will be efficient on the job. I can bring the best practices to the company.”
      6. “has a high level of motivation to work here. I have studied the entire company history and observed its business strategies. Since I am also a long-time customer, I took the opportunity to write this report with some suggestions for how to improve your services.”
      7. “has a pragmatic approach to things. I don’t waste time talking about theory or the latest buzz words of the bullshit bingo. Only one question matters to me: ‘Does it work or not?'”
      8. “takes work ethics very seriously. I do what I am paid for, and I do it well.”
      9. “can make decisions rapidly if needed. Everybody can make good decisions with sufficient time and information. The reality of our domain is different. Even with time pressure and high stakes, we need to move forward by taking charge and being decisive. I can do that.”
      10. “is considered to be ‘fun.’ I believe that we are way more productive when we are working with people with which we enjoy spending time. When the situation gets tough with a customer, a touch of humour can save the day.”
      11. “works as a real team-player. I bring the best out of the people I work with and I always do what I think is best for the company.”
      12. “is completely autonomous. I won’t need to be micromanaged. I won’t need to be trained. I understand high-level targets and I know how to achieve them.”
      13. “leads people. I can unite people around a vision and motivate a team to excellence. I expect no more from the others than what I expect from myself.”
      14. “understands the complexity of advanced project management. It’s not just pushing triangles on a GANTT chart; it’s about getting everyone to sit down together and to agree on the way forward. And that’s a lot more complicated than it sounds.”
      15. “is the absolute expert in the field. Ask anybody in the industry. My name is on their lips because I wrote THE book on the subject.”
      16. “communicates extensively. Good, bad or ugly, I believe that open communication is the most important factor to reach an efficient organization.”
      17. “works enthusiastically. I have enough motivation for myself and my department. I love what I do, and it’s contagious.”
      18. “has an eye for details because details matter the most. How many companies have failed because of just one tiny detail? Hire me and you’ll be sure I’ll find that detail.”
      19. “can see the big picture. Beginners waste time solving minor issues. I understand the purpose of our company, tackle the real subjects and the top management will eventually notice it.”
      20. “is not like anyone you know. I am the candidate you would not expect. You can hire a corporate clone, or you can hire someone who will bring something different to the company. That’s me. “

      Featured photo credit: Tim Gouw via unsplash.com

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