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11 ways to be more productive at work

Being productive at work is not about working harder, it’s about working smarter. It’s about careful preparation, smart use of your resources and the effective streamlining of tasks. But before even any of this, it’s about your attitude.

In order to maximise your productivity you need to have a yearning to do better and succeed. I can provide you with a multitude of ways by which you can increase your productivity, but they aren’t going to count for much unless you’re prepared to go the extra mile to further your career.

Are you ready and willing to do what it takes to become more productive and successful? Here are 11 ways to help you get there:

Plan ahead

Such a large part of being productive comes down to being organised. Plan tasks for specific times of the day based on their difficulty. I often tackle my most challenging task of the day first. The sense of achievement I get from doing so helps to sustain my energy and productivity for the remainder of the day.
Similarly, schedule your routine tasks – those which you can do with your eyes closed – around low energy periods, eg a mid-afternoon .

Put pressure on yourself

A really great way to make sure you don’t slack on your schedule is to let your team members know when you plan on completing a certain task. Now it won’t just be yourself you’re letting down if you miss the deadline.

Look after yourself

The mind is a muscle and as such requires rest throughout the day. Many workers feel increasingly under pressure to go to extraordinary lengths so as not to appear lazy. A report featured in the latest issue of the Hays Journal discovered that they go into work when ill and they have lunch at their desks, they don’t even venture outside the office.
Reclaiming your lunch break is vital to getting your adequate nourishment, which the World Health Organization believes leads to a 20 per cent increase in productivity.
Working to your maximum capacity for excessive periods will quickly lead to mental fatigue and exhaustion. If possible, try and work in 90 minute blocks with 10-15 minutes of downtime in between – helping to sustain your productivity for a longer period.

Be punctual

Just as many of us feel peer pressured into relinquishing our lunch breaks, many of us are also coerced into working long into the night – to such an extent in Japan that the government has had to intervene.
It’s important that you think about the bigger picture. If you leave in good time today then you’ll feel fresher and more capable tomorrow. Being productive is about making the most of the time available to you, not working for as many hours as possible without any sort of urgency.

Optimise your workspace

Your workspace has a significant impact on your overall mood and, consequently, how well you’re able to perform. We spend so much of our week at our desk that it’s foolish not to make an effort to create a warm and pleasant atmosphere for yourself during this time.

Delegate

Richard Branson said that the most valuable tool a leader has at their disposal is delegation.
Don’t shirk responsibility for tasks, but don’t overburden yourself either. Focus on the most important tasks to you, and defer everything else to your most competent team members; thus letting you get more done in less time.

Prioritise

Work on one task at a time, starting a new one only once the previous one has been completed. Juggling tasks has been scientifically proven to decrease the performance of workers, raising the chances of low output, long duration of projects.”.
Having the resolve to stick with one task is actually not that simple. You have to know when to say no to colleagues, and even your boss.

Collaborate

Sometimes you can get so caught up in a project that you can’t see the wood for the trees. Seeking the feedback of others can help you to gain a clearer perspective on the task, both helping you to complete it in quicker time and, from soliciting their feedback, to make the task as successful as possible.

Change your thought process

A real mark of someone’s professional merit is how well they’re able to perform under pressure. Changing the way you think about stress can increase your productivity and overall chance of success – our CEO has some useful tips on this in his LinkedIn Influencer blog. Reinforce positive thoughts and discard of the negative. Instead of thinking “I’ve got so much work on, how am I ever going to manage?” put together a manageable plan of action, tackling each task in order of priority. A systematic approach such as this will help you to rationally assess the urgency and relevancy of each project.

Get things right the first time

Getting things right the first time can be helped by remaining cool and keeping your focus. If you’re struggling with your workload and think that blitzing through each task might be the solution then think again. Your colleague, client or boss is unlikely to be happy with work that’s been done without your full attention and effort.

Be committed

There are many different ways you can increase your productivity, but in order to benefit fully from them you need to be truly committed to the cause; a desire to succeed is essential to maximise your output.
If you’re someone who is used to cutting corners and doing the minimum required then all of the above might be difficult at first. That’s OK, change can be uncomfortable but reward is never too far round the corner.

By the way, new habits are created after only 21 days of constant practice. Stick with it and you’ll soon create a profitable cycle of productivity and success to drive your career forward.

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