15 Actionable Tips You Can Use To Make Yourself 10x More Productive At Work

26th July 2019

Do you work in a 9–5 spectrum?

Then you might run into the problem of not finding yourself being productive enough at work. Are different projects stacked up on your desk? Are you struggling to complete the deadlines? Or are you hopping into ten different positions in a day trying to keep up with work?

If “Yes,” you might lack essential time management and productivity skills.

You might have tried various tips and tricks to enhance the productivity without really finding those helpful. Even though we have implemented some of the tips, tasks still keep on piling up on our to-do lists and various emails keeps waiting to be answered.

But don’t worry!

This article will walk you through the ways, researches, and rules on how you can be more productive at work.

1. Track Time That You Spend On Specific Tasks

You may think that you are a pro at gauging the time that you spend on the tasks, but in reality most of us aren’t. According to the We Are Terrible at Estimating Time research by Thisvsthat, only 17% of the people have the ability to accurately estimate the passage of time.

We have all experienced this problem. There are times when you are supposed to complete a task in 15 minutes, but the black whole of time sucks us in and we lose track of time. What should have been a quick fix became an hour of work.

If you have experienced this passing of time, use personal time tracking tools to gauge how you spend your time.

2. Set Deadlines For Yourself

A self-imposed deadline helps you to meet your goals and goes a long way in forcing you to become productive. Once you start with the project, set a deadline for yourself.

As you abide by sticking to your deadlines, you will be eventually surprised to see just how productive you are. It will require you to focus on work in order to complete tasks within the deadline, rather than falling into the trap of thinking “it can always be done at another time”.

3. Follow The “Two Minute Rule”

According to The Two Minute Rule, we should do a task immediately if it only takes two minutes to do. In other words, don’t put off things that takes less than two minutes to do.

Write and send that email now, so it doesn’t end up in the pile of emails waiting to get a response.

If you have a lot of work in front of you, then start by prioritising tasks and pick up the ones you can complete in a shorter time frame.

As you complete the task right away, it will actually take less time than getting back to it later. Moreover, you will also save the time that you would otherwise use for scheduling those tasks.

4. Avoid The Non-Important Meetings

According to statisticians, an average office worker spends over 31 hours each month in unproductive meetings. That’s crazy!

There is no denying that unproductive meetings can take up all of our time. Instead of just complaining about them, we need to do something about it.

Now when we know that unproductive meetings might be what is taking up all of our time, think before you schedule your next meeting. Is there a clear agenda? Will you be able to complete all the important scheduled tasks, if you attend the meeting? Will you be able to be productive for all the working hours or will the meeting take too much out of you?

If no, go for a web-based meeting or try getting questions that don’t really require a meeting to be answered done through phone, email or a message. Then you can focus on other important tasks.

5. Make Most Of The “First Hour” Of Work

How you spend the first hour at work determines how your day is going to look like.

Before you meet at work and even before you start working, take some time for yourself and think about what you can accomplish in the day. Also think about what needs to be completed during the day.

Identify all your time thieves, look for the important tasks and begin to work on them.

As you quickly plan work for the day in the first hour, the day will be in your control. You will also be much more productive doing work that actually matters.

6. Stop Multitasking

Multitasking is always a productivity killer.

According to a study by the University Of Sussex, multitasking may be physically harming your brain. We tend to think that it leads to increased efficiency, but the opposite might happen to you.

Instead of completing multiple tasks at the same time, pick one task, focus on it, complete it and then move on to the next.

If you start drifting towards something else, then stop and make a quick assessment. Why did you drift away from the current task? Is it because a more pressing or important task came to you.

If yes, then complete that task. Otherwise, get back to the work that really matters for you.

7. Make Use Of Productivity Tools

There are a whole lot of productivity tools that let you use your time effectively, organise your life and increase your overall productivity. Here are some that you can use to make the most of your working hours.

  • RescueTime: It is time management software that runs a background check continuously. It monitors what you do and gives you a detailed report on how you spend your time.
  • TimeOn: It is a time tracking and project management software. Use it to make sure you are spending the right amount of time on the most important projects. You can see which projects you are spending too much time on and which projects needs to be worked on. Oh — it also automates client reporting for you, so you don’t have to spend time on unproductive administrative work.
  • Evernote: Why waste time looking for notes everywhere, when you have Evernote to keep notes tidy for you? It is a digital notepad that syncs with the cloud and lets you access your notes from anywhere in an organized manner.
  • Sanebox: It is a third-party program that works with all your email clients. This program will only show up the important messages in your inbox and will send the rest of them in a separate folder. As the day ends, it will send you a message for the emails that are kept in the separate folder. Pretty amazing for the crowded email inboxes.
  • StayFocusd: It is a Google Chrome extension that limits the access to websites that distracts you, so you can keep you on the important tasks at all times.

We spend one-third of our time working. One of the best — and easiest — ways to become more productive at work is to use tools to make us more efficient.

8. Don’t Forget To Take Breaks

It is important to take breaks throughout the day.

Even a five-minute walk in your surroundings will maintain your focus and boost your mood. It may sound counter intuitive, but this approach actually works for your benefits.

Moreover, if you work for the entire day, it will tire you and might even cause you to doze off. Working all day with no breaks will lead to a steady decline in performance and will possibly just make you more unproductive.

At some point you will be the victim of diminishing returns in regards to output of the work you put in. So, take breaks and get a breather between your efforts.

9. Find The Right Noise Levels

Another approach to become more productive is to find suitable acoustics and noise levels.

We do not consider it as a fact, but the sound in our surroundings affects us a lot. It tends to affect our breathing rate, brain wave, cognition, hormone secretion and other health parameters.

If you work in a noisy place, try using noise cancelling headphones. They will reduce the ambient noise and good tracks can even get you “in the zone”. In other words, it can get you in the right mood and this can actually boost your productiveness.

However, you don’t have to listen to music. You can just put on the headphones and isolate yourself from annoying noise or colleagues who may distract you.

10. Try To Be Proactive, Not Reactive

As you prepare for your work day, don’t let the unnecessary to-do lists, calls and emails dictate your day.

Try to be proactive, instead of reacting to it. Being reactive will waste unnecessary time as the tasks coming to you will be unexpected.

You can always decide to set time aside for reacting to things that might come up during the day, but don’t let it determine how your day is going to progress.

11. Eat The Frog

No. You are not supposed to literally eat a frog. All you need is to take up the first hour of the day and get the most challenging tasks out of your way.

Whether it is the lengthiest task or a complicated one, complete it as first thing in the morning. At this time, you will likely be fresher in your mind.

Also, once you have started the day completing the most challenging task, all other tasks will seem like a breeze. And who doesn’t like a day with tasks you are just breezing through?

12. Make Urgent Tasks Your Priority

There are chances that your workday goes out of your control. You might end up spending all day working on low priority tasks that you think where important. Other days you might procrastinate too much — something we are all guilty of.

If it holds true for you, look for the difference between urgent and important tasks. They both are to be done throughout the day, but you can only start with one at a time.

Make urgent tasks your priority. Complete them, and then work on important tasks throughout the day.

13. Give A Shot To 90-Minute Intervals

According to Professor K.Andres Ericsson working in 90-minute intervals have been found to maximise productivity for elite performers like leading actors, musicians and athletes.

This is not only true for elite performers. It has also been found that people who work 90 minutes are more productive than those who work 90 minutes plus.

Think of it as a soccer game, when you want to implement it. Decide to work 90 minutes completely focused. Then take a short break to gather your thoughts and energy, and back to working another 90 minutes.

Just repeat this cycle throughout the day. But remember a longer break during lunch. We all need that time and food to get through the rest of the day.

14. Manage Your Digital Life

In this digital era, everyone is constantly working with assistance from websites, apps and other digital channels.

They are definitely of utter importance in regards to improving communication, team coherence and productivity!

But as you start on your actual work, disconnect from the internet. Try not to open any browser or email and put away the phone. This will keep your focus on the work in front of you and minimise distractions.

Once you have your digital life in control, you will see yourself becoming more productive right away.

15. Use The Power Of Optimism

Optimism is one of the factors that play a major role in enhancing your work day and productivity.

If you have negative thoughts on your mind, you will be at risk of becoming distracted by them, which can cause you to lose focus on your tasks.

There are a few tips for starting your day in a positive manner. For example, you can start by meditating, eating right or just by listening to your favourite song. This will put you in the right mood. Let’s face it, a little dance and singalong to your favourite tune is very up-lifting.

As you stay optimistic, work will be less stressful. You will also find that you have way more energy, which can be tunneled into your work and create greater results.

Now is the time to improve your days in the office

To enhance your productivity, you don’t have to bring major changes to your work structure.

Start by cutting out the distractions and make small changes in how you look at tasks and complete them. These small changes will make a significant difference in your work routine.

You can also follow the two-minute rule, work in 90-minute intervals, prioritise tasks and then complete them in batches.

Every minute is precious. The only thing we can’t make up for is lost time. So, makes sure you get the most out of the time spend at your job by boosting your productivity with these simple tips.

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