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.

5 Ways To Stay On Time

One of the things that I find most difficult about getting up in the morning is dragging myself out of the house ready for work. The reason I always manage it is because there is nothing I dislike more than being late. For me, being on time and keeping to time is always really important. If you become good at time management, everything else becomes efficient, at least regarding work, and you will then be able to have plenty of free time rather than time spent trying to catch up.

Being timely is good for you and everybody that you work with. After all, being late causes all sorts of awkwardness and inconvenience. So if you want to stay on time and prevent yourself from missing out on stuff and getting behind, here are my five tips for keeping to time.

1) Have more than one alarm.

I find it helps to have an alarm on either side of the bed. If there are two of you, you both have to turn them off and if you are alone you will have to keep reaching across until it begins to irritate you. With the snooze option and recurring sounds, you should eventually be awake enough to drag yourself out of bed.

Also having one alarm beyond arm’s reach is a good idea as you then have to get out of bed to turn that off. I suggest making this one the last resort alarm, set at the latest time you can possibly get up and still get to work without being late.

2) Change time

When I talk about changing time I mean altering the times that you note down meetings or appointments so that they appear to begin fifteen minutes earlier.

If I know a start time and allow extra time then I may end up cutting into that factored in time because I know the real start time. If I fool myself into thinking the event starts slightly earlier then I will subconsciously focus on this, making being on time much more realistic.

3) Don’t get distracted.

Taking that non-urgent phone call can slow things down.

Sometimes you have good intentions and start to make progress towards getting to an event on time and then something gets in the way.

For instance, just as you are about to walk to your next meeting, the phone rings and you pick up, while deep down knowing that this call may not be brief. Or someone stops you for a quick gossip which turns out to be a drawn out conversation that again makes you late.

4) Don’t be too polite.

Polite people are lovely but often not good at keeping to time. Being afraid to stop a meeting from overrunning because somebody is in full flow or going off on tangents is a popular cause of lateness.

Even on a zoom meeting, going off topic or not following strict timings can result in those meetings taking too long and have the knock on effect of pushing other meetings back too.

5) Be organised

If you do keep to a schedule as much as possible and set reminders and alarms to keep everything going, then your work will be more efficient. Good time management is a real skill to embrace and makes things work more fluently. Even at home, having chores organised with time allocations stops backlogs of things to do and makes family life better as well.

I hope that these ideas were useful. They are just straight forward suggestions to help everyone stay on time for work, hobbies and family events. For another article about things that make me laugh, click here here.

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