Work efficiency is an essential skill to either progress quickly and/or improve your work/life balance. Outside of the obvious ones like not going on social media as much, fewer mid-week drinks and keeping your desk tidy, here are a few tips to help you reach maximum productivity:
1. Plan your day
The highest performers have a common belief that their day begins the evening before. So, before you leave work everyday, write down a list of duties to complete the following day.
Tackle the toughest task first - this will get the day off to great start
Allocate time for admin heavy tasks
Don’t be distracted by incoming emails - unless it’s very urgent, it can be responded to before lunch/day end
Allow time for a mental break or a coffee - it will keep your mind fresh throughout the day
Organising your to-do list this way helps ensure you don’t simply put your energy into the things you like to do while putting off urgent or important tasks.
2. Bring more efficiency to your emails and calls
Emails and phone calls from company employees are a standard part of any job, but they can be a real productivity killer. Spending 10- 15 minutes typing an email, checking and double checking the wording, then worrying about the tone can really eat into your day. If in doubt, shout (don’t actually shout, pick up the phone and talk!)
Email is a must but unless it’s urgent, book an hour into your diary before and after lunch to respond.
Check it out - Gmail now offers a predictive text which can speed up your typing.
3. Allow breaks and rewards
If you have a hard time focusing in general, even without distractions, break down your goal or task into 25-minute intervals. This method is called the Pomodoro Method and has been proven to increase productivity. Set a timer and work steadily for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break and reward yourself with something that won't pull you away from the task (no emails, phone calls, texts, etc.). Stand up and stretch. Close your eyes and breathe. Look out the window. Grab a quick cuppa. Use the restroom (without stopping to talk!) Try to avoid the habit of leaving work before all of your main daily tasks are completed. This will avoid starting the next day on the back foot.
4. Request additional training
Lack of knowledge is a major barrier to productivity. Think of when you’ve had to spend extra time in research because you’re not well versed in, say, the new CRM system or Accounting software.
Figuring out quickly what your skills gaps are can be incredibly valuable. Then research courses and other educational options that would close up that skills gap. Third, find out about getting.
5. Get help when necessary
It's okay to ask for help. If your workload increases for some reason - a new acquisition, seasonal spike, etc. - then it could be a good opportunity to impress. However, it’s important that you don’t overstretch yourself and risk making key errors. Asking for assistance with your workload is completely understandable. It may be necessary for your manager to bring in a temp for a period of high workload.
It’s also normal to have an ‘off’ day every now and again, so go easy on yourself. Talk it out if you need to - you're not alone.