As a lawyer in New York City, Jeremy Goldstein has carefully honed his approach to work over the years to achieve the maximum amount of productivity. Whether someone is a world-class attorney or a school teacher, boosting productivity is important if they want to achieve their true potential. Being more productive at work can help people get a promotion. It can also help harried workers finish early, so they can spend more time with their families. Through the right tips, individuals can become more productive at work.
1. Quit Having Meetings
While it may be impossible to get rid of every meeting, it is important to eliminate as many meetings as possible. A two-hour meeting with 20 team members consumes 40 hours of labor. This is the equivalent of one person’s entire workweek. In many cases, the things people learn in meetings could be easily conveyed through emails, phone calls or online collaboration tools. Unfortunately, the average office worker wastes 31 hours a month in meetings.
2. Create Standing Meetings
Queen Elizabeth II famously requires her prime ministers to stand up during their meetings. If the United Kingdom’s leaders can solve global issues while standing, office workers can as well. When it is absolutely impossible to avoid meetings, try making everyone stand up. When everyone stands, it reduces territoriality and improves group performance. It also ensures everyone is awake and paying attention, so no one has to repeat things later on.
3. Reduce Tech Interference
Another important productivity tip is to reduce tech distractions. Instead of paying attention to messages as they arrive, workers should set boundaries about their tech usage. For example, many workers check their emails at the start of the day, lunchtime and the end of the day. By limiting tech usage to set times, workers can reduce the time they spend using technology. This is especially important because each email or notification distracts the worker’s attention and forces them to waste time refocusing after they respond to the distraction. By turning off apps, phones and gadgets, workers can get more accomplished.
4. Go to Bed and Wake Up Early
When people stay up late at night, it is extremely difficult to be awake and alert early in the morning. Most office workers have to arrive at work fairly early, which makes late nights a major issue. In order to be productive and alert the next day, workers need to go to bed early.
5. Reduce Potential Interruptions
Tech interruptions are one potential problem to watch out for. Colleagues and clients are distractions as well. Each interruption distracts the worker’s mind and forces them to spend energy focusing again after the distraction is gone. Multiple distractions throughout the day can quickly add up. To minimize distractions, business professionals can shut their office doors or set office hours. For major deadlines, workers may want to use their home office instead of working around their colleagues.
6. Avoid Morning Meetings
While many workplaces prefer having morning meetings, these are generally not the most productive option. Researchers know that the majority of humans reach their peak productivity and creativity in the morning. This makes sense since it is the time of day when the mind has its highest amount of rest. While a morning meeting might be productive, it takes away from other activities. Workers will be more productive if they use their peak creativity for other tasks. If a meeting is absolutely necessary, workers should keep it short or have it during the afternoon.
7. Time Tracking
Many people do not know where their work hours go. They reach the end of another week and have no clue how all of their time disappeared. If someone is struggling to be productive, they should start by tracking their time during the week. Once a worker knows how much time they spend on tasks like social media, word processing and email, they can work to change their habits.
8. Get Help When Necessary
There are times when people need help. No one has to complete every project alone. Often, a subordinate or colleague can complete the task faster because of a unique skill set or experience. Rather than trying to tackle large projects alone, workers need to learn how to delegate their work and ask for help. People are unlikely to volunteer for projects, so workers have to learn how to speak up and ask for help. Then, they must communicate about the project’s deadline so that everyone knows when the tasks must be finished by.
9. Create Personal Deadlines
Some stress can actually be a good thing because it sharpens the senses and helps people stay focused on their goals. Creating a personal deadline and setting self-imposed goals can help individuals complete open-ended tasks. Once someone creates a personal deadline, they should stick to it. This kind of deadline can be remarkably effective at helping people become more productive.
10. Make a To-Do List
Other than setting a personal deadline, workers can also create a to-do list to stay focused and productive. Each day, there are countless big and small tasks that workers must complete. By making a to-do list, workers can organize and track their progress as they complete each task. Software programs and apps like Google Tasks can help people easily track their to-do list.
Sometimes, the worker’s to-do list is too large to complete in a single day. When this happens, it is important to break large goals into smaller, more doable tasks. For example, rather than finish a large corporation’s tax return in a single day, the worker can set a goal of handling deductions on one day and labor costs on the next day.
11. Use the Two-Minute Rule
This rule is as simple as it sounds. The two-minute rule is designed to boost productivity by getting easy, short tasks out of the way. During the day, workers may see tasks that can be easily done in less than two minutes. When they see these tasks, they should do them right away. If workers try to wait to do these tasks later, they will spend more time remembering and returning to the task than they would have spent on doing the task when they first noticed it.
12. Take Time to Prepare for Tomorrow
Rather than spend time preparing lunches and picking clothes each day, professionals can do all of these activities on Sunday. During the week, workers can prepare at night for the following day. Workers can set up their coffee makers the night before, lay out their clothes and pack their work things before they go to bed. This helps to make mornings less chaotic, and it also reduces the chances that something will be forgotten.
13. Stop Multitasking
Many people believe that multitasking will help them get more work done, but this is probably not true. Researchers have found that multitasking actually makes people less productive. This is probably because of the time wasted refocusing between tasks. Instead of multitasking, workers can save time by doing one task at a time.
14. Avoid the Television
While there are a number of enjoyable, interesting shows on television, there is a reason why successful people do not spend a lot of time watching TV. Watching television uses up valuable time that workers could spend getting a degree, socializing with their family, finishing work projects and creating new ideas. In addition, watching television shows can end up leading to weight gain and health problems as well.
15. Exercise on Breaks
Exercise is important for physical health, but it can also help a worker’s productivity. When people work out, it gets their blood pumping. This helps to clear the mind and make the individual more alert. During breaks, workers should spend some time working out or taking a walk.
16. Find Something Nice to See
Interestingly, research shows that having an attractive office could make people 15 percent more productive. Beautiful decorations like candles, pictures, flowers or houseplants can make workers more effective. Plus, it makes spending long hours at the office more enjoyable.
17. Skip the Notifications
Avoiding tech distractions is extremely difficult if a phone or tablet keeps sending notifications every few minutes. During productive hours, workers should turn off their notifications. There are even apps available that can turn off outside distractions, so there is no excuse for being unproductive.
18. Work for 90 Minutes at a Time
It turns out that 90 minutes is the sweet spot for productivity. When people work for 90-minute intervals or less, they get more work done than people who work for more than 90 minutes at a time. To use this tip, workers can start by setting a timer. When the timer goes off after 90 minutes, it is time to take a break.
People only have so many hours available for finishing work projects. The most successful people do not have a magical ability to make more hours available in a 24-hour day. Instead, they work smarter by making the most of each minute. Through the right techniques, workers can be more productive and successful in their day-to-day lives.
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