Do you find yourself staring into space half the time instead of completing the task on hand? Or buried under a pile of work that seems to burgeon as you type or crunch the numbers? Perhaps you’re not doing it right. Here are seven ways to be more productive.
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Be proactive in dealing with interruptions
Working in an office, it’s normal for your boss or colleagues to approach you at any time to ask you to help with something or to just chit-chat. Take the initiative to communicate with your co-workers to let them know that you have to focus on your work, and that you would appreciate if you are not interrupted. Use signals such as putting your status as ‘Busy’ or ‘Unavailable’ on chat apps or wearing your headphones to remind them that you are busy. Turn off your email notifications so you won’t be tempted to check your inbox. If there are still too many distractions in the office, move away from your desk and find a quiet space, or work from home if possible.
Put your phone away or disable your WiFi and 4G
Social media is one of the biggest distractions at work. “Just one look” can turn into a click-fest and before you know it, you have spent almost an hour just browsing through your friends’ profiles. This might not sound like a bad idea—if you were at home. Snip the distraction in the bud by disabling Internet access on your phone. While you might be still be connected to the online world via your computer, chances are that you’re less likely to access your social media accounts on your work computer because the whole world might see your screen, and your activities might be tracked by the IT department.
Make a to-do list
Listing things out can help you not only remember better, but also manage your time. Your brain will be conditioned into thinking that you still have a lot of outstanding tasks that need to be done before the end of the day, so you’re less likely to skive.
One of the biggest time-wasting culprits is miscommunication. And this usually happens when one party doesn’t listen to instructions. Avoid having to re-do your work by ensuring that you take instructions well. This means that even if you hated your supervisor, don’t ignore or walk away when she’s giving you instructions. She doesn’t have anything to lose—you’re the one who has to put in OT hours.
No matter how easy a task may seem, don’t put it on the back-burner. But that doesn’t mean you have to use the “first in, first out” principle. Get the more urgent stuff done first so you don’t panic when your boss chases you for it.
As surprising as this might sound, multitasking might make you less efficient since your brain has to focus on more than one thing. Channel all your effort into one task at a time so you can complete it in no time, instead of doing bits and pieces of everything. It’s better to have one task completed than five half-completed tasks .
You might be tempted to park yourself in front of your computer screen and work non-stop, but you need to take regular breaks to keep your productivity levels high. Even if you can only afford short 30 second breaks to just get up from your seat and stretch your legs, it is enough to prevent you from getting mentally fatigued and keep you from leading a sedentary lifestyle.
Images: Micha Klootwijk / 123RF.com, Eduardo Huelin / 123RF.com, Unsplash
Additional text: Valerie Toh