Have you ever stopped to think, "I wish I had 48 hours each day, not just 24. I could get so much more done."
The truth is everyone has the same 24 hours each day. (So did Bill Gates. And Steve Jobs. Mark Zuckerberg.) It's really how you put it to use.
Here are 12 ways to increase your work productivity.
1) Plan, plan, plan
Nearly everything stems from planning, simply because it establishes a routine and helps prioritise tasks. The good news is each of your plans have to be tailor-made according to individual strengths as preferences, and those can only be written by you.
It's also never too late to start. I had a literature teacher in pre-college that left all of us with a stern warning: "If I see that you're not planning your 3-hour paper in the first 15-minutes, I will break your fingers like they did in the Manchu period."
None of incurred his painful wrath, but his warning did help us to see the importance of planning in any task or essay we took up.
Having trouble planning courses for your learners and trainers? Check out our neat timetable wizard.
2) Review each day
For starters, here are three questions you could ask yourself at the start of each day:
- What did you accomplish yesterday?
- What has been left over?
- Did you finish a task in time? Why or why not?
- What are your priorities for the day?
This includes setting aside time for emails and other notifications that you can address in that time, or set as a task for the rest of the day or the next.
3) Find an optimum time of the day for work
Everyone works differently, and so everyone has an different optimum time for work. Night owls just can't work in the mornings, and vice versa, and changes can't simply occur overnight. Take this into account when planning your daily tasks.
Already found a time that works the best for you and fits into your schedule well? Great, keep going! If not, condition yourself to work at a suitable time with minimal disruptions.
4) Time each task
Chances are most of your tasks will be repeated in different forms as you progress in your career. Timing your task the first time you do it will give you a sense of how much you need to allocate to it in future.
5) Break down each task
Don't be vague and just say "Build Page A." Adding subtasks to each task at hand has been shown to improve productivity. Quote famous person.
At Wisenet, we use project management software like Jira and Trello, both on an individual and company-wide basis. It doesn't just give you a sense of accomplishment; this strategy also helps you and your team see if you're on track to meeting the organisational goal.
6) Automate, automate, automate
In short, save time where possible by letting technology work for you!
We talked about cloud-based applications last week and scoured the web for must-have apps of training professionals. See the full list here.
6) Set your own deadlines
This gives you time to review your work before actually submitting it to higher-ups for review and approval. It also leaves you time for other leisurely things to keep yourself happy and motivated at work.
7) Take regular breaks (don't overwork!)
Stand. Stretch. Dance in a spot. Take a walk around the building or get a coffee. Science has shown that taking regular breaks throughout a working day has increased productivity for people in the office.
8) Follow the "two-minute rule."
You've probably heard of the two-minute rule by David Allen, best-selling author and influential time management consultant.
"If you determine an action that can be done it two minutes, you actually should do it right then because it'll take longer to organise it and review it than it would be to actually finish it the first time you notice it.
The bottom line:
Completing small, doable tasks once they surface can save you time. Factoring them into planning and leaving them for later actually takes you more time to complete them.
9) Have daily standup meetings
This is useful for teams who have several projects going on at once. Everyone knows your priorities for the day, and the team can know where exactly they stand in the end goal: project completion and the closing of tasks.
Just be careful about implementing this - daily standups aren't suitable for all organisations or scopes of work. Learn more about job roles that are suitable for agile business processes.
10) Feeling sleepy? Stand up to work
We're all human and fatigue can affect productivity, even for the best of us.
Scientist/research shows that standing up could be the answer to this age-old problem of productivity.
Standing desks are all the rage today, with models going from >$100 to way above $700. We scoured the web for the best (and most affordable) standing desks in the market.
11) Minimise interruptions
That short chat in the pantry might seem harmless, but even the shortest disruptions can cause changes to work patterns or cause you to lose the momentum you thought you had.
12) Minimise Discomfort, Maximise Productivity
The late, well-loved, and respected leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, once said that human brains work best in environments of 16 degrees Celcius. It eventually led to many public schools installing air-conditioners for the comfort and productivity of the students.
Not all of us are used to the chill of 16 degrees Celcius, but all of us should know our own preferences that keep our environments comfortable enough for maximum productivity.
In the Edge, now known as The Most Intelligent Building In The World, staff use an app that adjusts the workspace according to individual preferences.