Like most busy leaders, you probably have a seemingly endless to-do list on your desk that, no matter how hard you try, doesn’t get any shorter. Then, suddenly, it’s four o’clock on Friday and you’re wondering, “where did the time go?”
If this sounds like you, then it’s time to take a step back and evaluate how your time is being spent. Being more productive is all about prioritizing your tasks and setting aside time to actually finish them. Here are nine things you can do today to get started.
One major culprit of wasted time at work: unnecessary or unproductive meetings. Before sending or accepting a meeting invitation, ask yourself “does this require a meeting or would a quick phone call or email suffice?” If a meeting is necessary, try to reduce the amount of time it will take. To ensure productive meetings, create an agenda to stay on track and goals about what you want to accomplish so conversations don’t get derailed.
The curse of perfectionism is another huge productivity killer. Hold yourself and your employees to a certain quality standard of work and once you meet that standard, move on to the next project. Obsessing over every little detail will hinder you from getting anything finished.
While it’s hard to say no when a team member requests something from you, it can completely derail the projects that you need to get done. Evaluate their requests and know that it’s OK to say “no for now” to something if it doesn’t fit into your schedule.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by or lose track of your to-do list if it’s not all in one place. A post-it note here, a calendar reminder there; establish a way to organize all of your tasks in one place and stick to it.
The average office worker gets 121 emails in their inbox every day. Take the time to manage your subscription preferences and parse down the list of newsletters and publications you actually want to hear from. Reducing the amount of clutter in your inbox will help you stay focused on the task at hand.
Even if some of the items on your to-do list don’t have strict deadlines, create them for yourself anyway. This will help you become more accountable for those tasks that you keep putting off. Blocking off time on your calendar can also help keep you stay organized and on track.
Whether it’s periodically checking Facebook or responding to personal text messages, the amount of time spent on little distractions can really add up. In fact, the average office employee spends 56 minutes per day using their cell phone at work for non-work activity according to OfficeTeam. Reduce this temptation by keeping your cell phone in your desk or restricting your access to social media sites.
If you find yourself becoming distracted or unmotivated, get up and take a walk. Getting away from your desk will help your clear your mind and get your blood flowing making it easier for you to concentrate when you get back.
The Bottom Line
To increase productivity at work, you need to be smarter about how you’re spending your time, not increase the amount of time you spend. If you’re struggling to check off everything on your to-do list, implementing a few of these productivity-boosting tricks can help make your workload more manageable.