If you want to be more productive at work, I have some tips that can help. Not only will these tips help you get more done, but they'll also help you get it done with less stress.
And that's what's so cool. Because changing how we think of productivity -- from doing things quickly to doing them efficiently and smarter -- can help you achieve more and feel better during and at the end of your day.
These are the 7 productivity tips (habits really):
Have an Email Strategy
Use Dual Monitors
Do Priority Work in the First 2 hours
Use Makers Time
Make Friends with Smart Co-workers
1. Have an Email Strategy
It’s estimated that emails and meetings alone account for 50% or more of how we spend our time at work. We need to do more to cut down the time we spend on both of these tasks.
One way you can begin to get control of your email is to have an email strategy. Studies show that people who are trained to have an email strategy, increase their work productivity.
Spending less time on email and maintaining an organized Inbox, have enormous productivity benefits.
Here is a list of email management tips that you can draw from to begin developing your own strategy.
Have a Read now/Read later system.
Get in the habit of reading and acting on messages at the same time.
Add reminders to emails you will handle later.
Unsubscribe from lists whose content you don’t read.
Encourage and “train” your work colleagues to send you fewer emails.
2. Use Dual Monitors
Multiple studies show that using a second monitor makes it easier to get your work done. This inexpensive tool reduces window switching to increase your productivity and lower work stress. A laptop can be used as a second monitor as well, BTW.
3. Get Priority Work Done First
We tend to be more creative and have more willpower earlier in the day so before you even check email, tackle your important tasks. Even doing just one priority task before the afternoon, can make you feel productive for the rest of the day.
4. Set Aside Focused Work Time
Talk about intentional work! When you set aside time to do focused work, you’ll get more focused work done. Even if you’re not always productive during these blocks of time, they are important for establishing a routine of getting stuff done.
At Google, employees are encouraged to set aside what’s called “Maker Time” and get this, other employees can’t schedule meetings over each other’s “Maker Time.” These blocks of time that are set aside for working on projects, coding, client outreach, and such, represent work that can languish so you never feel accomplished.
How much time should YOU set aside? It’s found that time blocks of at least 90 minutes and under 3 hours work well for most people however there is no rule against setting aside entire days to do focused work.
As productivity tips go, this is one of my favorites. It has helped to transform how I work and I think it will for you as well.
5. Disable Notifications
Turn off email alerts and desktop notifications and silence your phone during work. Our natural instinct is to respond as soon as a message pops up, but the reality is that most messages don’t require immediate attention. Plus, setting a pattern of instant response puts pressure on you to get back to your co-workers right away. This gives the impression that you’re not that busy. It also encourages last-minuters’ bad habit of getting things to you last minute. Because, you know, “Michelle does quick turnaround.”
6. Reduce Multitasking
Studies show that multitasking makes your brain less effective. Because it lacks the capacity to perform two tasks successfully simultaneously, you slow down your brain when you multitask. And the effect is cumulative over time. When you reduce multitasking.
7. Make Some Smart Work Friends
The reason mentors are so invaluable is that they help to shorten our learning curve and provide other support for our work life. If you don’t have a mentor, and even if you do have one, you should have smart friends at work. Google won’t have all the answers but some of your smart work friends might.
There is that colleague that knows everyone, another who is great with Excel, and yet another, who just has a good mind. These colleagues can help you strategize and get things accomplished faster. Of course, you will need to return the favor when you can.
Initially, learning these new ways of working might feel like you're taking longer, but that's just because they're new skills.
Just like the way you're doing things now is habitual and comes quickly to you, so too, over time, you'll find these come quickly to you as well. Only with this more mindful approach to work, you'll actually be getting more done and feel better about work. Actually, you might even start loving your job... or at least, hate it less.