Despite all the chatter about work-life balance, it can be challenging to get your work done in an average workday and leave on time. For many of us, our workload can make it seem like there are never enough hours in a day. Working extra hours isn’t always an option due to commitments and responsibilities in our personal lives, and not always a good idea because employee output decreases after a certain point. So, where does that leave us?
As the saying goes, “work smarter, not harder.” Rather than working more hours to complete all your tasks, instead, maximize your productivity in the office by working more effectively during the time you are there. Here are some tips to help you do so.
Communicate more efficiently – It’s inevitable you’re going to have to work with others, and doing so can result in wasted time due to miscommunications or misunderstandings. Eliminate both by always communicating concisely and being mindful of details. Keep your emails, meetings, or phone calls short and to the point, focus on the important details so there is no confusion on anyone’s part, and only involve those absolutely necessary. You’ll save time and eliminate the need for clarification or to redo work down the road.
Identify and take advantage of your peak hours – No one is at their sharpest all day long—the workday is full of peaks and valleys when it comes to our energy and attentiveness. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, after you’ve been up for a few hours, or after you’ve powered up with lunch, find your periods of peak productivity and tackle your most challenging tasks during those times.
Put an end to multitasking – While many of us like to think we are increasing productivity by doing more than one thing at a time, in reality, what we’re doing is numerous things poorly. Dividing your attention between more than one thing means you’re never really focused on anything. Multitasking at work makes it difficult to concentrate, inhibits creativity, results in more mistakes, and causes anxiety. Focus on one task at a time and get it done right the first time.
Minimize distractions – Working in an environment with other people is going to present distractions that interfere with your productivity. Do all you can to minimize them and manage your attention by controlling your environment. When you are working on a complex task or up against a deadline, create a boundary that lets co-workers know you don’t want to be interrupted. Whether it’s a closed door, a “do not disturb” sign, or headphones, minimize interruptions that distract you from your work. In addition, keep your email program closed and only check it at established times to keep your attention focused on the task at hand.
No one wants to spend more time in the office than they have to. Avoid that by working smarter and getting more work done in the time you already spend there.