Tips and tricks to improve productivity at home and office
Everyone wants to be efficient, get more work done in as little time as possible.
But when you sit staring at the screen having accomplished nothing there’s only one question left to answer.
Where did all the time go?
If you find yourselves in this predicament it’s time to look back and improve things.
Ready? Let’s get started.
In this post we will be looking at ways to improve your productivity both at home and office.
Complete tasks in batches
Tim Ferris is known all over the world for finding ways to do things quickly and smartly. He wrote about completing tasks much more efficiently in his book the 4 hour work week.
One strategy he outlined is to batch activities instead of doing them in small chunks.
Here’s what I mean. When you divide work into tiny chunks you have to go back and forth in on it several times. This reduces productivity and discourages you from getting into your groove.
There are several tasks that can be clubbed together into batches.
For instance if you have several meetings lined up instead of taking them on at several different times during the day approach it just once by lining them all together and get through them once and for all.
Instead of finding separate times during the day to answer emails, calls and voice mails do it at one go.
De-clutter and organize files and receipts
Being able to do work properly often boils down to how well you organize things around you. With organization not only do you stand to get stuff quicker you also have to worry about a lot less and thus have reduced anxiety.
Less clutter also saves time and reduces anxiety by not having to search for something at the last minute.
Organization begins with the ability to throw out useless stuff, documents and papers that have been clogging your workspace since years gathering dust.
Use a receipt scanner to store a digital copy of all your receipts in your computer or hard disk drive and say goodbye to boring paper for ever.
Everyone feels sleepy after their lunch. It’s about this time that productivity wanes. The one thing that has always worked for me is standing up. If you are not focused and feeling dizzy standing up gets the blood running again infusing new energy to your cells and awakening both spirit and mind.
Standing up also burns many more calories than what you can burn by sitting. Also standing is known to lower shoulder pain back pain, burn fat, lower the risk of diabetes, improve heart health and improve your chances of fighting against colon cancer.
Too much standing has been equated with smoking.
Motivate and reward good results
Motivation in the workplace is a rare animal. Employers seldom laud their employees when they do a good job. As such they never know the difference between a job well done and average performance. This can lead to lower morale which more than often finds its way and expresses itself as low productivity.
Reward those who work hard with bonuses and motivate them to work even harder and do their best.
Appreciation for good work need not always translate into bonuses and appraisals. Often a sweet word also counts. That’s how you maintain morale. There could be other rewards like granting them more leaves or giving them a memento to remember.
Provide proper equipment
Proper equipment to carry out office tasks is one of the least things you could do for your employees if you’re an employer. If you’re an employee demanding and getting proper equipment is the one thing on your list of things.
With advanced tech at hand to take care of everyday things, you get to free up manpower for more important things. Also such menial tasks aren’t the easiest and so equipment is always considered a blessing.
Break the routine
Monotony often lowers a productivity. If you’re doing something consistently for a week every week with nothing else to spice things up and introduce a change you’re not going anywhere.
It’s tedious and a killer of productivity.
Rotate jobs, introduce new responsibilities and ask for newer roles if and when possible. You should also try working and learning to improve skill-set and acquire new skills.
Lower productivity can jeopardize the business if not fixed. And you should always monitor your own efficiency and track how many weekly goals you were able to meet.
Track the time you spend doing tasks
Despite what you like to think you’re not in the least good at tracking the time you spend working at different tasks. You may start your day at 9 in the morning where you spend the first 30 minutes sipping your latte. The next hour you spend gawking at Facebook where a news article distracts you and on and on. You spent 3 hours doing nothing while you were working. It comes as no surprise that research indicates that only a tiny minority of humanity at merely 17% is able to estimate the time it takes for them to do tasks accurately.
However with the advent of technology and different tools at hand both free and paid you can calculate time spent on tasks accurately and even block sites that are of no help. These addons can track social media usage, email usage, time spent on Docs and processing day to day tasks.
Breaks are essential to maximize productivity
I know this sounds counter intuitive but trust me. When you take a break, by the time you return your mind is fresh to take on the challenge afresh.
Research also shows that short breaks when doing time taking tasks can help you better your performance while consistently maintaining output you desire. Without breaks the performance slows down and though you’re working hard you won’t get any of the benefits but a decline in performance.
Set self-imposed deadlines.
With a deadline at hand you will work twice as hard to just meet that goal. Stress is usually considered bad but not when you impose a deadline on yourself. You’re the executor and the benefactor in tandem. This helps you meet goals. As a freelancer I’ve found that it’s better to self-impose a deadline rather than thinking about something and never getting it done.
You will be focused and productive to reach your goals.
Follow the two-minute rule
Know about the two-minute rule? According to it tasks that take less or about 2 minutes should be done immediately. How many times have you staved off sending that email that would have only taken you 1 minute but didn’t because you felt too lazy to type it? There are countless such tasks that occupy your mind but essentially take under a minute or two to get done.
Thinking about it and thinking that you would be able to go back to it later actually accomplishes nothing much. It’s much easier to get it done then and there than making it sit, fester and expand. Implement it to get things moving.
Multitasking could easily be one of the biggest lies told and the most pervading myth we firmly believe. The truth is, there’s nothing called multitasking. We can effectively task ourselves with just one thing at a time. When we attempt to carry out multiple things, our output and efficiency decreases. And since most people aren’t able to measure the loss of time effectively they can’t recount where their time went.
Instead focus on a single task and get it done rather than trying multiple things all at once.
Don’t let office travel time go to waste
In a not very unrelated example, a youth pastor I knew of used his 2 hour commute to listen to the sermons of all the popular preachers from a century ago. He might have listened to thousands of these tapes that helped him in his career. This is a bonus time you find yourself in where you might immerse yourself in constructive podcasts.
You can pen emails, think about ideas write them down and create your to do list.
Don’t try to perfect things
Give up on perfection. Perfection isn’t easily achievable and there’s little you can do to further this illusion.
Nothing is perfect and your time is better spent elsewhere rather than trying to perfect things. It’s best to move on after having done things the best way you can. Clear your plate as soon as you’re able to rather being hung up on semantics.
Take exercise breaks
Time off work to exercise can lower blood pressure and improve productivity. You can take a walk or do some reps. This additionally lowers bad cholesterol and improves focus as well.
Be proactive, not reactive.
Let me narrate an incident illustrating the difference between the two. In a restaurant once a high end cockroach flew and landed on one of the guests. The guests being mostly ladies started screaming in tandem. In the chaos that followed the roach flew from one person to another causing a tide of panic that infected everyone. The old waiter calmy walked over to the person on whom the roach now sat and cupped it ensuring that peace would return once again.
In life you can choose to be reactive or proactive.
If the first thing you see in the morning is an email and that’s what dictates how the rest of your day would be you’re choosing a very bad life for you.
There needs to be a time for all those problems. But the day you plan ahead should stick to the plan you have created and not happen randomly.
Turn off notifications
There’s a ping on your phone or a blue light starts blinking and you can’t resist but check what it’s about. It’s best to turn off those notifications, put your phone to silent mode and flip it so you don’t get distracted by any blinking lights or beeps.
It’s better to allot a single time window to check mails, messages and make calls so your day goes as planned ahead and in advance.
Pause work after 90 minutes, take a break and begin again
Those who continuously work for long hours don’t necessarily get things done any better than those who work shorter hours. In fact if you work in 90 minute intervals you might just be more productive than otherwise.
Top performers usually spend only 4 hours a day working. They ensure that when they’re working the only thing they do is work.
Don’t allow interruptions to cloud your day
It’s not always possible that you will be able to eliminate all distractions but you can try. This is an emphatic point because even brief innocuous interruptions can produce disastrous effects on the work you do and results you’re able to have.
YOu might want to close the door, set an office hour or even work from somewhere else where productivity peaks rather than ebbs.
Instead of packing more into a calendar that’s already choke full, relax put away things and plan ahead to work smarter.
The goal is to get more done and not work more.
So what do you think of our comments, tips and tricks on improving productivity. I know this is a lot to take but start small and grow big. Take on the easiest tasks outlined here. For instance conduct meetings standing up. Switch off your phone or put it to silent mode.
This seemingly little improvements that seem apparently powerless wield enormous productive power.
What do you think?
Do let us know in the comments below.