How To Be More Productive

One of the things that I have become good at over time is being efficient with my work time. In all of my jobs I have always been slightly against the clock and it has made me very aware of how quickly time flies and keen to use it wisely. In this day and age, there are so many distractions in life, and especially at work, but it makes a lot of sense to use work time well in order to make time for the fun stuff.

In this blog article I am going to explore exactly how you can make much better use of your time by being a bit more organised. If you are anything like me, you will want those dreary jobs out of the way as soon as possible in order to have some more relaxing time and space. I intend to suggest some productivity hacks to make it easier to achieve this.

Keep an eye on the time and keep moving forward with the tasks you are given.

Where does the time go?

Lately, I have been observing other people working and noticing a few things that slow them down. Whether it is working from home or being swept up in a busy workplace, distractions are everywhere and frequently make simple tasks take a lot longer than they should.

Here are a few things that slow productivity at work:

1) When getting into a specific task, noticing a new email pop up and then indulging in opening it and getting sucked into its content. This results in a period of time being used away from the main task and leads to different tangents that reduce overall efficiency. Productivity levels fall when this kind of thing happens at work.

2) Walking to perform a task and getting sidetracked by a colleague on the way, by stopping for a chat. This is one of those everyday things that causes productivity and time management to diminish.

3) Taking a personal phone call while at work.

4) Deflecting a task, in preference for an easier job. This makes the less popular task drag on and can complicate things if it delays other processes or people end up chasing you for it to be done. Sometimes deflected jobs also get forgotten, causing all sorts of complications later on.

5) Not planning your day properly OR not sticking to your plan.

I could go on and on but will stop there. I am sure that you can think of many other ways in which work tasks can also be delayed or skipped due to distractions. Feel free to mention other examples in the comments below this post.

So, what can we do to keep up our productivity at work? How will we make simple adjustments that improve our efficiency and get things done quicker?

Here are my suggestions for being more productive:

Try and keep to the agenda. Don’t allow off-task conversations to take over your online meetings.

1) Have a simple plan to follow throughout the day. Include some periods of catch-up. If you work from home, pencil in a ‘fake’ meeting to your online timetable, to prevent people from disturbing you for an hour, allowing you to get everything in order.

2) Turn your personal phone off until a dedicated break time. One of my friends was saying that she was alarmed by a news update at work and it stressed her out. When I asked how she knew, she said it had popped up on the phone and she was tempted to read it and then got distracted by it. Turning it off will stop notifications, others calling you and text messages lurking on the screen that may demand your attention.

3) As much as possible, have everything that you need with you so you are ready to go and don’t need to spend part of your day retrieving or searching for things. Nothing is more frustrating and time consuming that being ready to do a task and finding that you are unprepared due to missing something that you need.

4) If someone tries to sidetrack you with a conversation as you make your way to and from the photocopier, ask them to join you and hold that chat next to the copier. Or simply, politely inform them that you are very busy and would love to catch up at lunchtime. Remember – quite simply, some people spend their day trying to get out of being productive. Don’t be one of them.

5) When holding a meeting, be it face-to-face or online, remind everyone politely that there is an agenda and simply stick to it. Recently I overheard a zoom meeting where the first person speaking had a new cat and everyone cooed over it for the next ten minutes or so, delaying the start of the actual meeting.

I love a good chat! However, meetings can drag on and run over if you allow chitchat and off-task discussions. I know that I sound harsh but keeping the pace is important, especially when maintaining a productive mindset. I do wonder how many millions of hours of online meetings are wasted with general gossip and chat which is nothing to do with the meeting focus.

Summary

I hope that you have found these simple observations and suggestions useful. I know it can seem insensitive to keep the pace going when you are at work and others want a chat, but I have learned that doing so means getting tasks completed on time. This then leaves plenty of free time after work to socialise and means not having to work late to catch up on errands.

Thank you for taking the time to read my productivity hacks blog post today. Please check Boost Your Income – Side Hustle Suggestions for ideas of how to make extra income in the time you will have saved by being more efficient. Please also consider following my blog for similar future content.

Working From Home – Ideas

Over time I have experienced lots of different work patterns. In the past I have worked full time office hours, flexible hours, several jobs at once and night shifts. But Covid has introduced working from home as an acceptable part of a normal working pattern. Although I teach face-to-face part time, I still manage to have some time at home doing my other work, such as freelance writing.

Lots of my friends include managers and researchers and they have really got used to working from home. So much so that they have opted to carry it on in preference to returning to the office.

Personally, I hope to work at least two full days from home after the summer and I am really looking forward to it. I have gathered together some advice for people who are new to this kind of work and listed them below:

Working at home – Suggestions

– All of my friends agree that getting rid of distractions is vital when setting up a home based office. Here is a previous article about this, Working from home – without distraction. Such distractions include family members, pets and neighbours popping round for tea.

– Having the right equipment matters. That includes back supports for any chairs you sit on. Also it is vital that you get an anti-blue light screen protector that minimises glare, helping you to look after your eyes. This will also stop them getting tired so quickly.

– Make time for physical breaks. Not travelling to work is great for the environment but often it is easy to become quite sedentary. Time can also run away from you so make sure you rigidly set times for breaks and chances to be mobile.

Some easy ways to mobilise include:

a) Take the dog for a quick walk (he/she will thank you for it).

b) Do ten squats. These are great for getting the blood flowing and wake up your glutes as well as keeping you alert.

c) Walk up and down the stairs twice. Perhaps even treat yourself with a glass of water at the end of it.

d) Do a home maintenance task for five minutes. This helps in two ways as it gives your back and eyes a rest as well as contributing to those chores that will otherwise build up throughout the day. Good examples are: fill the dishwasher, take the bins out, dust the window sills or wipe the kitchen surfaces.

e) Close your eyes and lay on your back, doing alternate leg raises. This will give your abdomen a simple workout whilst allowing you to let your eyes relax for a few minutes. Three lots of ten leg raises work wonders.

– Make sure that if you have a visible timetable online, you pencil out a block everyday for admin tasks. If you don’t then colleagues won’t resist booking you in for back-to-back meetings all day long.

If you manage your time well and don’t get sucked into too many unnecessary meetings, you will still have time for exercise and reflection at the end of the day. Without the need to commute, you should have a little bit of ME-time to unwind, get fresh air and maybe even read a book.

Hopefully this advice was quite useful. For similar posts about lifestyle and entertainment, perhaps consider following my little blog.

Managing Your Time – 5 Quick Fixes

As someone that enjoys writing and reading, I know how difficult it can be to fit those hobbies into the daily grind. With work, shopping, cleaning, dealing with family and just trying to keep my eyes open, finding time to do the things that I love becomes more and more challenging. How do you find time to read? Are there dedicated slots in your day for some ME-time?

Sometimes a cup of coffee and a good book solve everything.

This blog post is designed to encourage you to reflect on your timetable and consider making small adjustments so that you can do the things that you really want to do. Allowing time to read, write, be creative or just languish in the sun can be important, especially during pressured periods in your life. Making that time available can do wonders for your mental health too.

Here are my top five suggestions which should enable you to squeeze more fulfilling things into your timetable and stop you having to make excuses for not getting to do them. Let me know what you think of them in the comments.

1) Be more inflexible.

When people make extra demands on your time, this can affect the likelihood of you getting any time for yourself. Other people will always want a slice of your time and if you cave in to them every time, you will find that you end up sacrificing that much needed quality time which you might have spent doing a hobby or other enjoyable activity that you’ve been dying to do.

‘Can you just…?’ requests from family and friends can make you feel obliged to drop what you are doing and once more do something helpful for them. However, these time demands work both ways. It’s not unreasonable to turn it into, ‘Can I just have half an hour to do….? Then if you still haven’t managed to do it yourself, I’ll give you a hand.’ Give and take is very important and sometimes it is the only way to create personal space.

2) Use the resources available to you.

This really should be ‘make use of resources better’, because often you do duplicate tasks which can take up your time unnecessarily and just planning your time more efficiently can help you to find the time you need for YOU.

We all have things that we could do to make our lives much easier, but often we don’t plan ahead and this is why we get caught out and end up wasting valuable ME-time. Something as simple as a well planned shopping trip once a week (which could even be a supermarket delivery) can prevent multiple trips to the local shop throughout the week. So long as you’ve planned what you need to cook each day.

Having a timetable for chores and making sure that you don’t overcommit with appointments and catch-ups with friends and neighbours can help you to pave the way for more free time to do whatever it is that you really like doing.

3) Be strong.

Of course, when you have protected some time within your week to read, write or be creative in whatever form you wish, there is a temptation to treat that time as if it’s disposable, throwing it away at the first opportunity. Don’t! Let others know that you value this particular time and need space to enjoy the activity, giving it some value and authority.

Your half an hour of writing, for example, is just as important as your son’s guitar lesson or your mother’s yoga class. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

‘Mum. You’re only writing. Can you help me instead?’ is not good enough. Stand firm and look after that special time just as anyone else would.

4) Make better use of waiting time.

When waiting for an appointment, be it a Zoom meeting or a dentist checkup, there is no need to just sit there idly. Why not crack open that book, make some useful notes or do a few lines of that knitting you were wanting to get on with. Obviously, it would depend on what your preferred activity requires because you probably couldn’t get away with laying on the floor practising yoga in a busy doctor’s surgery but if your activity can be done in the space available, fill that void and make the most of any waiting time you come across.

Use that waiting time to do something you enjoy.

5) Enjoy every moment!

If you do value your allocated time and give it some importance then make sure you spend it doing something that truly relaxes you. I wouldn’t consider doing something just because your best friend does it a good idea, on the whole. Your best friends may enjoy jogging but if you go running and get no pleasure out of it, you’re not going to enjoy the experience and it won’t boost your mood. Maybe you would much prefer doing a workout video in the privacy of your sitting room.

This is something that I experienced when my mates started doing couch-to-5K runs and I found the whole thing awkward and painful. After trying home workouts instead I found I felt less stressed about it and it made my ME-time fit in with what I felt comfortable doing. After all, ME-time has to be all about ME. Well YOU in this case.

I hope that these simple reflections help you to reflect upon your daily routine. Maybe there are manageable things that you can do in order to claim back some time for yourself and make sure that others understand how important that time is to you. We all need some ME-time otherwise our mental health can start to suffer. We can’t just spend all of our awake time being slaves to society.

If you have any thoughts about this, please share them in the comments below. Perhaps consider following my blog more of the same type of articles.