How to Be More Productive at Work – Part Two
In our last blog looking at how to be more productive at work, we looked at those working from home long-term. This time, we look at those working in an office-based environment, and how you can increase your efficiency.
Clarity is a great tool for increasing productivity. What is the best work to be accomplished by you as opposed to other people? Spend as much time as possible doing that skill, and do your best to delegate, outsource, barter, or eliminate as many other tasks as possible. Second, be clear about the objectives your work actually serves. If you work in an organisation, make sure that the work you do aligns with the strategic objectives of your group and the company’s overall vision. Always ask your manager for that larger context and check-in to make sure your work is on track. If you’re working for yourself, rather than going to random networking events or trying to get your social media messages anywhere and everywhere – spare yourself this scattershot marketing in favour of real clarity. Thirdly, answer in three seconds this question: ‘What are the top one or two efforts that either add the most value to your organisation or do more than any other effort to bring in new business?’. Instead of getting caught up in the day-to-day, think through the work you have to do until the point of clarity. Let your clarity help you be intentional about what you spend your time on. In short – keeping the bigger picture in mind constantly will help you be more productive at work.
Don’t be afraid to delegate. Everybody needs help and should never take on large or complex tasks alone. Two of the biggest barriers to getting help are trust and introversion.
In order to get help from others, you need to trust your colleagues in being able to help you complete the work. If you tell your colleague what the deadline is for the project, then they will likely take it very seriously. Make sure to give your colleague all of the resources that he or she needs, such as relevant documents or spreadsheets in order to reach the best deliverable.
Secondly, people are not going to volunteer in helping out so you have to feel comfortable about asking for help. If you are too introverted to ask for help, then you will most likely be doing tasks on your own, being less productive, and maybe even getting the task wrong. You may also end up becoming somebody else’s work-horse because you are too shy to speak up and say ‘No’.
Are all those meetings you attend strictly necessary? Time is the most important currency in your life. While it may be tempting to meet with as many people for the benefit of networking, the time you spend at your desk is extremely valuable. Knowing what meetings to refuse is very important.
If your manager wants to have a one-on-one meeting, then it is obviously very important. However, attending a meeting about whether to use a Times New Roman or Georgia font at the weekly newsletter design subcommittee get-together may not be worthy of your time. Be judicious – get more done – simple.
Build in strategies to help you to stop work. This one might seem a bit strange, but it really works. Some of us struggle to stop working, rather than (or as well as) start working.
It’s easy to just keep going for another hour, or when you get home to get your computer out after dinner and work until well after bedtime. The worst thing about these habits is that they encourage us to work to the point of ineffectiveness, and that’s when mistakes start to happen. Here are a few ways to switch off at home-time and leave work behind:
Quit while you’re ahead. Stopping in the middle of a project can work well; you know what you’ve done, you know exactly what you’ll do next, and you’ll be excited to get started again.
Finally, don’t confuse productivity with laziness. While no one likes admitting it, sheer laziness is the number one contributor to lost productivity. In fact, a number of time-saving methods – taking meetings and answering emails for example – are actually just ways to avoid doing real work. Place your focus on doing the things that matter most as efficiently and effectively as possible.