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5 ways to be more productive at work

By Kate Lee | 01/27/2014 | 10:30 PM | Categories: Weblogs

Productivity is the Holy Grail.  While technology and caffeine can provide a bit of a boost, to be more productive at work you need to go beyond your iPhone and beyond the coffee maker.  Here are 5 things you can do to be more productive at work.

1.  Find your quiet place

In March 2013 Harris Interactive conducted a survey on workplace productivity on behalf of Ask.com.  Sixty-one percent of respondents listed noisy colleagues as their biggest workplace distraction.  Eighty-six percent of respondents stated that to hit maximum productivity they work alone. 

To increase your productivity, find a quiet spot where you can be alone to do your work.  If you can’t shut the door, try other ways to reduce distractions and noise.  For example, shut off your ringer, hang a do not disturb sign outside of your work space, and consider investing in noise cancelling headphones.

2.  Stop multitasking

Multitasking has gotten elevated to celebrity status for all the wrong reasons.  Multitasking is thought of as a way to get more done in less time.  The reality is that researchers have found that multitasking can actually reduce productivity by as much as 40 percent.  Stop multitasking and focus on the task at hand.

3.  Reduce the number of meetings

An Inc. article names meetings as the number way to kill productivity.  The article points to research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research which found that office workers spend an average of four hours per week in meetings, and that these workers reported feeling like half of that time was time wasted. The article also points to a Salary.com survey which found that 47 percent of workers believe meetings are the biggest time-waster at the office.

To increase your productivity, reduce the number of meetings you attend.  That is, attend the meetings you need to be at and don’t attend the meetings you really don’t need to attend.  Similarly, think before you schedule a meeting – is the meeting really necessary?

4.  Learn to delegate

Research conducted by Julian Birkinshaw, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at London Business School, and Jordan Cohen, productivity expert at PA Consulting Group, found that executives spend 41 percent of their time performing tasks that offer little personal satisfaction and which could be handled, competently, by others.  Why?  According to Cohen: “We’ve been socialized with the idea that completing a task is an accomplishment, but in today's business world, an entrepreneur's time can be better served by doing the tasks that matter most to the success of their business and delegating the rest."

Birkinshaw and Cohen offer exercises and strategies around delegation in their article in the Harvard Business Review.

5.  Create a system

Develop a system that works for you.  Some ideas:

    • Develop a standard structure for your day and/or week (obviously with some flexibility built in);
    • Create a methodology for reading, responding to, and dealing with emails;
    • Write a to do list and stick with it.

What are your biggest barriers to productivity?  What have you done to increase your productivity at work?



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The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Elizabeth Hines

Elizabeth Hines

Elizabeth is a content strategist with 12+ years of experience in content development, branding, marketing, and communications. As the creative/editorial director at Fronetics, she oversees all efforts related to content and creative assets, including strategy design and brand development.

She has written extensively about supply chain and logistics, and has developed content strategies across a number of verticals, including the B2B space. Prior to joining Fronetics, Elizabeth worked at Boston University, Prospectiv, and Cengage Learning.



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