10 ways to be more productive at work

Productive meeting
By Andrew Harbison, CA Today

20 April 2016

A recent study by UK think tank the Smith Institute found that two-thirds of UK workers say they are now working longer hours, but see no gain in their productivity. A quarter of those surveyed said that they think productivity has declined over the last two years.

Worrying about how productive you are can cause stress and stress can cause you to be less productive. With this in mind, we have put together a list of 10 easy tips to help break that vicious circle.

1. Take on the big tasks first

Some people talk about eating frogs, others are walking around with a barrel of boulders. Whatever you want to call it, taking on your biggest task first thing in the morning can make the rest of your day run more smoothly. Your biggest task is the one you are most likely to procrastinate on because of its size and/or importance, so get it out the way.

2. Stop checking your emails so often

A study by the University of Columbia has found that constantly checking your email can not only cut productivity, but it also raises stress levels. The report recommends limiting checking your inbox to three times a day. It's up to you at what points in the day you do this but experts suggest first thing in the morning, before lunch and about an hour before you leave at night.

3. Take breaks

After you have just put together a big report it's important to give yourself time to recover from the mental exhaustion you might be experiencing. Get away from your desk for a bit and let your brain have a little rest. You'll return feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day.

4. One thing at a time

Jumping back and forth between tasks does not make them get completed faster. Your attention will be split and you are more likely to make a mistake. Dedicate your full attention to one task at a time and they will fly by.

5. Make a list

To do lists are a great way of keeping on top of your daily and weekly tasks. To cut down on your paper usage create a digital to do list. There are many websites which offer this service for free. We suggest Trello or something similar.

6. Be an early riser

This one may seem obvious but, hey, it works. The earlier you get up in the morning, the more time you have to work. Start by setting your alarm for 15 minutes earlier and see if it makes a difference to your day.

7. Catch some Zs

This tip ties into the last one. If you want to be the early bird then you need to make sure you are getting enough sleep. Try to get everything you need for the morning organised before you go to bed, meaning an earlier night and a smoother morning.

8. Hit the ground running

Literally. Studies have shown that exercising in the morning can reduce your blood pressure and improve your sleep.

9. Clean up your act

There is nothing worse than a messy and cluttered workspace, it’s a major productivity killer. Getting rid of anything unnecessary from your desk can help improve concentration and you won't have to waste time digging around to find files and papers.

10. Take a minute

Try and limit the time it takes to make a simple decision to just a minute. The time pressure will push you to make the most logical decision and you can move on to the next task.

Do you have a productivity boosting tip that we have missed? Let us know in the comments below.


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