12 ways to maximize your productivity at work

Don’t Work Harder, Work Smarter!

There are only so many hours in a day, so making the most of your time is essential to maximizing your productivity at work.

Professor of Informatics at the University of California, Dr. Gloria Mark, says that distractions such as checking your email, surfing the Web, or answering phone calls at work are both stressful and costly to managing your workload and responsibilities. Her findings show that after being distracted, a person takes an average of 23 minutes to fully regain his or her focus on a task.

The Overload Research Group—a collection of academic and corporate researchers dedicated to reducing the amount of information that people have to deal with—has found that U.S. workers waste about 25 percent of their time dealing with an incessant stream of data,” losing their employers a staggering $997 billion a year.

Increasing your productivity at work isn’t that hard, but it does require being more disciplined about how you manage your time. This article will walk you through 12 strategies to help you get the most out of your busy work day.

1. Downsize Your To-Do List

We often overestimate what we can accomplish in a work day and become easily frustrated by our seemingly lack of progress. A shorter, more realistic to-do list that leaves room for unexpected projects, emergencies, and interruptions will make you feel as though you are being more productive and will therefore help you achieve that goal.

2. Make It About Quality Not Quantity

Multitasking may seem like a good way to increase work productivity, yet repeatedly switching gears is mentally taxing and slows you down. Focusing on one item of your to-do list at a time will help you time manage and work more efficiently.

3. Consider Project Apps

A wide selection of software specifically designed to help people increase productivity at work, keep track of projects, meet deadlines, and be more organized deserves to be considered. Using such apps can help you unload the stress of your responsibilities and stay on top of things. Here are 11 productivity apps to consider.

4. Break Down Major Projects

Intimidation can lead to procrastination. Big, complicated, multi-fold assignments can seem overwhelming and too large to tackle. These assignments are better dealt with when split into smaller, manageable tasks which lead to a sense of accomplishment every time an incremental milestone is reached.

5. Learn to Say ‘No’

There are times when you are spread already too thin to simply accept taking on another assignment. Give yourself permission to say ‘no’ at times. While you may wish to build a reputation as a team player, the team won’t benefit from a teammate too busy to put in the work needed to see the project through.

6. Be Healthy

We are what we eat. Productivity at work can hinge on what we do off the job. Eating healthy, exercising regularly and getting adequate sleep will help your ability to concentrate.

7. Declutter Your Workplace

Often scrambling to find files? Come in early or stay late one day and do a clean sweep of your desk.

Once that’s done, get into the habit of investing a few minutes a morning setting up your desk for the tasks of the day and only those. If you’re working from home, the same rule applies. Make sure your workspace is uncluttered before you start your day.

8. Go Dark 

When focusing on important assignments, turn off mobile devices and signing out of email and social media. In doing so, your full attention will be dedicated to the task at hand. Posting an occasional Do Not Disturb” sign or simply closing your office door will also efficiently cast distractions out. If you’re working from home, tell your family members that you do not want to be disturbed for a certain period of time.

9. Know Your Productivity Primetime

Our internal clocks all tick differently. Use yours to your advantage. Tackle critical or challenging assignments at the time of the day when you’re most alert and productive.

10. Give Yourself a Break

It sounds counterintuitive and a tad contradictory to the rest of the tips and tricks but taking breaks can help you get more done. Solutions to complex problems often surface when we’re not intently focused on the issue. Getting fresh air or engaging in office banter can help you recharge. However, it is important to time manage your breaks. 

The well-known and widely used Pomodoro technique of engaging in a 25-minute work session, taking a five-minute break, and repeating, can work wonders at pursuing intentional focus and increase your productivity.

11. Recondition Your Email Reflexes

If you’re like most of us, chances are you read email the instant it hits your mailbox. Fight the impulse to react as soon as you hear the pinging sound of an incoming message. Pick specific times to check your inbox throughout the day … like those Pomodoro technique 5-minute breaks, for instance.

12. Reward Yourself

When you reach a milestone or finish a project, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back, or what’s more? Treat yourself to lunch or dinner, leave work early, go for a run, or anything fun you can think of!


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