It can be difficult to come to work each day, ready to hit the ground running and check off everything on your to-do list. You may find some days are easier than others when it comes to being and staying productive for hours at a time. However, I’ve found that a little organization and planning can boost your production and efficiency quite a bit. Here are some practical tips for increasing your productivity in the workplace:
One of the first ways to get your productivity in gear is to organize your workspace. Start by clearing off your desktop, decluttering your drawers, and giving everything from your business cards to your stapler its own spot. Develop a filing and organization system that makes sense to you and stick with it. Then, tackle your computer’s desktop, inbox and drive, to make tasks like finding documents and replying to emails much easier.
Many people find working on an empty stomach makes them sluggish and unable to concentrate. Protein-rich foods (not to mention your morning cup of coffee) are a great way to keep your energy up throughout the long workday. Keep hearty and healthy snacks at your desk, like nuts or dried fruit, that you can munch on when you’re starting to hit a wall in your productivity.
Spend the first 30 minutes to an hour of your day planning your schedule with the meetings and tasks ahead of you. Whether you prefer a to-do list or a minute-by-minute breakdown of your day, you’ll find it easier to stay on top of what you need to do if you aren’t figuring it out as you go. Or, if it works better for you, dedicate the last hour of each day to planning out the next day. That way you can come in fully prepared each morning and get started right away.
Give yourself a break
Ample research has shown that breaks are an important way for anyone to increase their output and stay efficient. Nobody can work straight through from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and expect themselves to do a great job without small breathers every once in awhile. Every couple of hours, spend a few minutes listening to music or walking around the office. At lunchtime, avoid eating at your desk, and instead clear your head by eating away from the office or even just with a 15-minute walk outside.
Say no to some meetings
For me, meetings are a huge disruption to my productivity. Any interruption when you’re trying to complete a difficult or complicated task can make it difficult to get into the zone – and stay in it. If you can, try to say no to some meetings that aren’t required. Or, dedicate one day a week or a couple hours each day for your meetings, and ask your coworkers to respect that time as much as they can. This will give you more uninterrupted desk time. The time just before and after meetings is also often an unproductive few minutes for many people – dedicate that time to returning emails or phone calls or give yourself a quick break.
Fill your calendar
If your office uses a shared calendar, take advantage of it. Scheduling every meeting, task and break down to the minute will not only help you stay on track, it will also give your coworkers and managers a good idea of what you’re doing. If you set aside a space of time for uninterrupted work – make sure you mark that on your calendar. People will know not to disturb you, and you’ll find it easier to hit your stride.