How to be More Productive at Work in 10 Steps

clock imageAn hour of planning is worth four hours of doing.  Yes, it’s true.  But for those of us who tend to “put something together before reading the instructions,” occasional gentle reminders of how to effectively plan our day can be a huge help.

 “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort” (Paul J. Meyer).   In order to get the most out of your day, we put together a list of ten tips for a more productive work place.  Ready. Set. Do!

1.  Get more organized.  Organizing your files and desk will cut down on the amount of time used looking for missing pieces, finding a pencil, or cross-referencing documents.  Black Mountain Software offers a variety of tools to help with organization, such as searchable, digitized documentation.

2. Take breaks.  Being overwhelmed by chaos is counterproductive.  Help avoid this by taking 15 minutes in the morning to organize and plan your day, followed by a five to 15 minute break every two to four hours to refocus.

3.  Create a to-do list.  It’s easy to forget everything that needs to be done in a day.  Taking a few minutes in the morning to look over the day’s tasks, review tasks from yesterday, and plan accordingly, can help you feel more in control of your schedule.

4. Be firm, when possible, about start and end times. Overworking can be counterproductive. Starting your day off a half-hour early with a rush of tasks sets the tone for the whole day.  When possible, be vigilant about how much of your mornings, nights, breaks, and lunches are spent in the office.  You may discover that there are tasks that are pushing you over your allocated work time.  If this is the case, your coworkers or supervisor maybe able to come up with a time-saving solution (for example, removing a bottleneck from the workflow), or re-allocate some of your tasks.

5. Minimize interruptions.  Interruptions are inevitable, but when getting something done takes priority, make yourself unavailable.  Turn off your phone, turn off your email alerts, and discourage chatty visitors.  It’s okay to occasionally ignore a ringing phone in order to address a more critical issue.  It is more productive to respond to a phone call when you have time to focus on the needs of the person on the other end.

6.  Set aside times for certain tasks.  Checking email throughout the day can be a time suck.  Set aside specific times to: check email, answer emails, work on payroll, pay invoices, etc. This will allow you to create bulk workloads and get more done in less time.

7.  Keep critical and frequently used items in close proximity.  Have a spot in close visual proximity for reference materials such as phone numbers, account numbers, and keyboard shortcuts you want to remember.

8. Create checklists for complex processes. Create checklists for common processes that involve a lot of steps, and post in a convenient reference spot.  This will cut back on time spent remembering complex processes.

9. Personalize your office.  Make your office your own: put things within your reach, hang files in an order that makes sense for you, and keep “hot files” close by.  Everyone has a different way of thinking and organizing.  Accommodating your office to your work habits will cut down on time spent adjusting to someone else’s workflow.

10. Start your day by looking at your calendar.  The most productive individuals start their day by looking forward.  Review your calendar at the start of each day to help determine what needs to be done, what meetings you need to prepare for, and where you have time to squeeze in additional tasks.

Your turn! What tips do you use to stay more organized and productive at work?

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