Have you ever spent the whole day at work only to realize in the end that you have not done anything substantial? Or do you often feel that all those hours at work are a waste because you have no tangible results for them? If yes, then it is entirely possible that you are not utilizing your workday efficiently.
A productive day at work will make you feel successful, accomplished and empowered, which is why we have these tips for you to follow so that your hours at work are more meaningful and effective.
1. Plan Ahead
This goes without saying. Plan your workday properly, sometimes even one day in advance. This gives you time to compensate for any delays (because there will be lots of them!). Plans also ensure that you will have an organized schedule for the day, and will boost efficiency and make you punctual.
And it does not just have to be just for one day, you can plan for the whole week so that each scheduled event will segue into the other seamlessly, allowing you some much-needed breathing space, and anxiety-less evenings after work. Make use of planners (there are online planners available too) in case you have a lot on your mind, especially when planning for the whole week… or maybe even for the whole month!
2. Prioritize Tasks
One advantage of planning is that you can identify which tasks need to be prioritized first. This can be done with something called the “80/20” rule, which basically means that 80% of your work will yield only 20% of your productivity, whereas the remaining 20% of your work will result in 80% of your overall productivity. So by categorizing your workplace tasks this way and completing those high productivity “20%” tasks first, you will ensure that your workday will be more fruitful than just finishing tasks in a random order.
3. Use Your Travel Time
How can you have a productive workday when half your time and energy is spent just to get there in the morning? So, why not use your travelling time to catch up on some work? If you’re travelling by public transport, then you can have important discussions with your clients or colleagues on the phone, so that you can clear those from your schedule.
If your travelling involves a long waiting time, then you can read books or listen to audiobooks on positivity and self-improvement or information on your line of work that can give you a competitive edge over your peers. From checking emails, assigning tasks and answering calls, there a lot you can accomplish while commuting to your workplace.
4. Use Time-Management Apps
Technology has done wonders to our work life, buy cutting down time and increasing efficiency. A list of time-management apps can surely come in handy when you want to work smart and achieve the maximum on any workday. Here’s a list of time and work management apps to install right away.
A. Trello: Project-management web app that lets you shuffle through tasks and coordinate with co-workers.
B. Clear: Simple app that organizes your goals as a step-by-step process.
C. Workflow: Highly customizable app that automates the tasks you perform on your phone.
D. Slack: For efficient communication between team members.
E. Airtable: Super useful for organizing ideas and content in one place.
F. Later: Useful for scheduling Instagram posts for a later date.
G. Clara: An email app that coordinates and schedules your meetings.
5. Take A Well-Deserved Break
Contrary to the popular notion, taking a break in between work hours is not always a bad thing. A well-deserved break at the end of a stressful task or a draining meeting can help reduce stress, anxiety and mental fatigue. A quick walk and a few stretches will also ensure that your body is fit and ready for the next task at hand.
A brisk walk outside, with a gasp of fresh air, can also maximize your productivity during any workday. A hot cup of coffee or crunchy snacks will also heighten your senses and boost your brain power.
6. To-do List
In order to plan and prioritize tasks, one needs a list of those tasks first, and this is where a to-do list comes into play. Every evening, jot down a number of things that you plan on doing the next day. It does not necessarily have to be in a particular order, and it does not matter if you forget to write something down, because you can always add it whenever you remember.
You can also synchronize your list with your schedule for the next day, so that you not only finish your tasks, but you finish them in time. Once the list is ready, you can prioritize them according to the aforementioned 80/20 rule.
7. Teamwork Works
Sometimes, it is worth it to do things on your own. But this does not work all the time. There will be times where you have to cooperate with, or even depend on your co-workers to get things done. Rather than seeing this as a drawback, you should consider the fact that a group of people working on different aspects of the same problem can turn out to be a highly efficient endeavour.
Every member of this team is an asset and must be considered as such. Your positive attitude and general friendliness will also contribute a lot to your team’s morale and motivation. A sharing of workforce and ideas will make your workday far more productive than when you choose to wing it alone.
8. Practise Positivity
Being in the right frame of mind while approaching tasks at work is a necessary skill that must be honed right from the beginning. A positive attitude will help you consider problems as challenges, whereas a pessimistic outlook will see the very same problems as dead ends.
Bank on your confidence and feed yourself some inspiration to power you through your workday, and make sure you spread your cheerfulness and optimism to all those around you. This creates a sort of cascade effect where all your energy will be transferred manifold times to all those who come in contact with you.
9. Emails & Notifications
One taxing job at any workplace is reading, and answering numerous emails, as well as responding to notifications and alerts. Most people spend the whole morning replying to each and every email that has found its way into their computer screens, and before they know it, more than half their workday is gone.
This can be avoided by fixing specific times during the day to check your emails. A good rule of thumb is to check your emails and notifications twice each day: two hours after your starting time, and two hours before your leaving time. The former will ensure that you get two solid hours to focus on completing those “20%” tasks. The latter will ensure that you respond to any replies you might have received to those emails you had sent earlier in the day.
10. Learn to say “NO”
A lot of eager employees, particularly those that are new to the business, will end up agreeing to do each and every request that their colleagues or their bosses ask them to do. Although this paints a picture of your earnestness, it also makes you an easy target for people who might want to take advantage of you. They may burden you with tasks that they are supposed to be doing themselves. And in agreeing to do them, you will have wasted valuable time and energy that you could have otherwise spent on your tasks.
So, it is essential that you master the art of saying “no”, even if you feel compelled to do things for others. A polite way of saying “no” is by making an excuse that you have deadlines or possibly meetings lined up. Your workday needs to be spent on your work first, and only then on someone else’s.
11. Goals & Deadlines
In order for your efforts and work to be meaningful, you will need to achieve certain goals to feel a sense of accomplishment. You must have a clear-cut vision as to what your aims at work are and then set feasible deadlines for you to finish your tasks. For every goal achieved and deadline crossed, your confidence and motivation will burgeon hand-in-hand, and so will your overall productivity.
This will also inspire you to set higher goals and tighter deadlines, which will challenge your determination and focus, as well as serve as a catalyst for your self-improvement and evolution as a person. With well-defined goals and deadlines, every workday will be an inspiring journey towards an inspiring destination.
So, the next time you are feeling like the perennial underachiever at work, just follow our tips to turn your workday upside down. Organization, positivity, determination, and planning everything to a T will all contribute heavily to your efficiency and satisfaction at the workplace. Besides, your rate of work completion will increase steadily, and so will your productivity. And all of this with time to spare later in the day for yourself.