Staying productive at work can often seem impossible. Interruptions from colleagues, unnecessary meetings and endless emails can all combine to disrupt your workflow. Not to mention the constant allure of checking Facebook updates, innocuous Skype chats and the rabbit-hole of funny cat videos on YouTube.
These factors can combine to make managing your workload and meeting deadlines challenging at the best of times. The good news is that there are numerous ways to increase your productivity so that you can improve your performance and stay on top of your game!
Here are 5 tips to improve your productivity at work:
1. Use a personal Kanban Board
The personal Kanban Board is a productivity method that keeps all your ‘to-dos’ in front of you and prioritized so you never have to wonder what to work on next. It’s designed to give you a simple, visual look at what needs to get done, what your priorities are, and what you’ve accomplished. The Personal Kanban works on two key ‘rules’; visualize your work and limit your work in progress (WIP). To visualize your work you set up a board and then place all your tasks on the board with sticky notes or cards. The notes can be categorized or colour-coded in order of priority.
Your board is divided into three columns titled ‘to-do’, ‘doing’ and ‘done’ and the objective is to then move each task through the different stages. To limit your work in progress simply means to limit the number of things you work on at the same time. Ideally you should only have one task in the ‘doing’ column of your board at a time. This helps you to focus, limits multitasking and lets you better manage your workload. The best part is at the end of the day you get a great sense of satisfaction seeing all the cards piled up in the ‘done’ column!
2. Gamify your work tasks and goals
Gamification is the application of gaming mechanics and metaphors to non-gaming scenarios. Gamification is a big trend in business at the moment as a way of engaging employees and gaining customer loyalty.
But did you know you can apply gamification to your life or work goals? The process behind gamification is to focus on big goals while at the same time rewarding each of the achievable little steps taken towards that goal. The idea is to set up a system that rewards you for consistently achieving small goals, much like a game where you are rewarded every time you complete a task.
This can also be called ‘leveling up’ as when you complete a certain number of tasks or goals you get to advance to the next ‘level’ of the game. There are numerous apps that can help you gamify your productivity goals. To find out more read this article on gamified productivity apps.
3. Block off your most productive time
WORK PRODUCTIVITY It’s easy to get distracted at work and often demands from co-workers, meetings and never-ending emails can keep you from your most important tasks. Different people also find that they are most productive at different times of the day. Some like to get down to their most important task first thing while others prefer to ease into their work and tackle their more challenging projects later in the day. If you find that you are constantly being distracted, decide when your most productive time is and block off that time as ‘busy’, ‘unavailable’ or ‘in a meeting’ so that your co-workers know not to disturb you during that time. This will allow you to have a distraction-free period in your day to tackle your most important tasks.
4. Try the Pomodoro Technique
This is a simple time management technique based on the iconic Pomodoro kitchen timer. The idea is to focus on tasks and get things done in short bursts while also taking frequent breaks. You simply set a timer for 25 minutes and then take a break for five minutes. After completing four sets of 25 minute intervals you then take a break for 15 or 20 minutes before starting the system again. This system improves your attention span and enables you to concentrate better on your tasks. Although this system is often punted by designers and developers, the great thing about it is that it can be used and adapted by anyone no matter what tasks you are performing.
There are many Pomodoro apps you can download to your Smart phone or you can try this custom productivity timer which allows you to choose between the Pomodoro system or your own customized timer settings.
5. Listen to music
There is evidence to suggest that music makes repetitive tasks easier and more enjoyable and that listening to ambient music can help you focus and be more creative. A New York Times article highlighted a study done with IT specialists which found that “those who listened to music completed their tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas than those who didn’t, because the music improved their mood.”
Another article looked at the different types of music that are best for increasing your productivity. It found that music with sounds from nature and music without lyrics is better at blocking out distractions and keeping you focused and productive. So the next time you need to concentrate on a project try plugging in to some music to boost your brain power. And remember that while ambient music can help you be more creative and productive if the music is to loud it will have the opposite effect and make it incredibly difficult to concentrate.
We hope you’ve found these tips useful. Let us know on Twitter what techniques you use to keep productive in the workplace with the hashtag #worktips