Whilst employers want us to use our time in the office for maximum output, a recent study revealed that 50% of UK employees admitted they are unproductive for up to an hour each day – a whopping 21 million work days lost each month.
Unsurprisingly, the main reasons for our distraction include: social media, talking to colleagues, mobile phones and email.
It may be impossible to eradicate these elements from our day completely, but you can maximise your productivity at work with a few simple tweaks, and feel more energised and positive as a result.
How to optimise your productivity at work
Try implementing a few of the following ideas into your day to see what effect they have.
1. Be clear on your goals
In order to perform at our best it’s vital to have a clear purpose and know your role in the team. Before starting any new piece of work, take the time to identify what the objectives are to understand how your efforts fit into your team and contribute to the organisation.
2. Minimise unnecessary distractions
With notifications from your telephone, email and social media plus the inevitable chat from colleagues, it can be incredibly hard to focus in the office. When it’s appropriate reduce the demands on your time by diverting calls to answerphone, shutting off inbox alerts and blocking out time in your calendar to work on important tasks.
3. Tackle your to-do list
Take back control of your lengthy to-do list by categorising it into order of priority over your week. Try to keep your daily to-do list as short as you can and make sure to break down any big pieces of work into smaller steps.
Don’t forget to celebrate your wins! Create a ta-da list to tick off any done items. Taking time out to note progress helps to keep motivation levels high.
4. Take regular breaks
Even though it might seem counter-productive, taking short breaks regularly can help us to stay more focused. “Slowing down to speed up” is one of my favourite phrases. It’s tough to stay on track for eight hours a day and the quality of your work is bound to take a nose dive as a result of a long stint at the desk.
Try the Pomodoro Technique of 25 minutes of concentrated work followed by a five minute break where you get up, stretch, grab a glass of water – anything as long as it’s not related to your task. Then after 4 Pomodoros, allow yourself a longer break of about 20 minutes to recharge. This productivity method has been used since the 1980s to help people around the globe improve their time management.
5. Allow time in your diary for in depth pieces of work
There will always be occasions when you will need to dedicate a large portion of your time to a piece of work as they require a thorough approach. Allocating specific time to work on certain things will also mean that they are more likely to get done. Block out distraction free time in your diary (factoring in breaks) to allow yourself to get fully immersed in the task at hand.
6. Think twice about meetings
Clogging up our work diary with meetings puts a limit on what we can achieve. If meetings are a time-drain for you, ask whether they are really needed and if they will be a good use of everyone’s time. I know, this can be controversial!
Only schedule a meeting when it is essential, create a clear agenda and be punctual with your time keeping. Ensure each meeting is summarised by action points with realistic timescales.
7. Done is often good enough
Knowing when work is good enough can have a huge impact on our output. It goes without saying that most of us want to deliver work to the best of our ability. Yet labouring over perfection comes at a cost to our available time and stress levels. Acknowledging that ‘done is better than perfect’ can help us to achieve work that is fit for purpose in a fraction of the time.
Productivity boosting actions for employers
So what’s a manager to do to improve your team’s productivity? As we’ve seen from the examples above, many of these actions can be small but bring a big impact. Here are some ideas:
- Ensure all workers have the right equipment and technology available to do their job
- Help employees reach their goals with ongoing performance management
- Allow flexible working enhanced by mobile technology
- And really think about how you manage breaks for those who have roles that keep them at their desk for certain periods.
By introducing smarter ways of working, employers can cultivate an empowered workforce that best serves its customers.
A disengaged and unmotivated workforce can have a huge impact on a company’s productivity. As I shared in my blog post about companies who are encouraging employees to have fun at work, a happy and healthy workforce can supercharge productivity by 20%!
Are you making the most of your time at work?
What changes can you make to your day and week to be more productive at work?
Here are a few resources I can offer in support:
- If you feel as though workplace productivity is affecting your confidence then my Confidence Confessions book is an ideal starting point. I’ve experienced and observed simple but effective strategies for building lost-lasting confidence. And I share them all in this book.
- If you would prefer 1:1 support, then I offer a Coaching & Mentoring Taster Experience offer. It’s essentially a coaching session at a very special price to allow you to try it on for size, get a sense of me, and experience some great support in the process.