How to be More Productive at Work

Written by Steven Marwick
Author

There are many methods that people use to try to figure out how to be more productive at work and some of these can be more useful than others. These apply whether you work from home or have returned to the office. We will take a look at some of the techniques and methods used in order to figure out which ones work best. 

How to be More Productive at Work

Focus on a Single Task at a Time

It can seem tempting to look at multiple tasks and attempt to complete them, or parts of them, concurrently but this tends not to be the best way for most people to work. The most effective work comes from focusing tightly on one task until it has been completed before moving on to the next one. It always feels good to tick off an item on a to-do list and this is an excellent way to get it done. Most tasks benefit from one uninterrupted bout of attention rather than several lower-focus attempts to complete them.

Regular Breaks Make a Difference

Being able to take regular breaks of between five and ten minutes can make a real difference in how well you are able to focus on your job. This is best done once one task has been completed and before beginning another, so you can even use breaks as a reward for completing tasks if this will help you to complete them faster and with a tighter focus on the desired end result.

Eye strain is a real issue in many workplaces where computer use is prevalent and taking regular breaks can also help your eyes to recover from the intensive staring at a screen that make up so much of the modern working day. Take the opportunity to drink some water and take a quick walk and you will come back feeling refreshed and ready to go again, in time to tackle your next task. 

Break Large Projects Down Into Smaller Components

Tackling large projects for work can be daunting, they often consist of many parts that have to be tackled in order to complete them. Take the time to consider the project and break it down into smaller and much more manageable chunks that you can tackle one by one until the large project is complete. 

Doing this lets you have several smaller “wins” when working on the project rather than just thinking “I haven’t finished the project yet”. You can now say “I have 4 of the 7 tasks in the project completed” and it also gives your management a better idea of where you are in the project rather than just hearing that it isn’t finished. 

This level of organisation can actually help with things like career progression as it will mark you out as someone who understands how to handle such projects. You may even be asked to help to upskill your colleagues in this area if you prove to be particularly adept.

How to be More Productive at Work – Utilise the Two Minute Rule

A two-minute rule is a tool that is used to prioritise the undertaking and completion of quick tasks that should take two minutes or less to do. This enables you to respond to emails that are pretty uncomplicated or to schedule some meetings. You may need to print some documents for a meeting. 

Working your way through a series of short two-minute tasks means that you are actually getting a large number of tasks on your to-do list done and out of the way, while each of the tasks feels quite easy and quick to do, they mount up and you can complete a substantial amount of work in this way. 

Decide Whether Meetings Are Necessary

In many workplaces, meetings are seen as a necessary evil but so many could actually have just been a simple exchange of ideas via email rather than requiring multiple people from different departments to attend. 

To make the point about the non-necessity of meetings, take notes at the meeting and email them to the rest of the participants, noting that there was nothing that couldn’t have been decided a lot faster by email. Some people just prefer meetings though, so this may not always be received in the manner that you might be hoping. 

Consider the Pomodoro Strategy

The Pomodoro Strategy is an excellent method of honing your concentration and focus so that you can complete more tasks in a shorter period of time. A Pomodoro timer sets periods of work interspersed with shorter periods of rest, 

The idea is that the time between the alarms forces you to channel your focus into the task that you are working on, in order to complete it before the alarm goes and you have to move on to the next task. For such a simple idea, it has proven to be a very effective one and is one that has been adopted successfully by businesses all over the world that want to increase their productivity.

How to be More Productive at Work – Limit Interruptions

One of the best ways that you can increase productivity is to lessen and limit the number of times you are interrupted per day. Each time takes focus away from your current task and makes it harder to pick it up again.

Some people choose to only look at their emails in the afternoon, dealing with their urgent tasks in the morning and neglecting their inbox until later so that they can concentrate on what they need to do. Some people will make themselves unavailable for calls during that time so that they can concentrate on getting the things done that they need to. 

This doesn’t work in all jobs but there is rarely something so urgent that it can take precedence over all other work, so some of these methods for maximising concentration are definitely worth giving some consideration to. Being to be able to complete all tasks in a timely manner is great for a sense of achievement and overall mental health as well. 

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