Being more productive at work means paring down activities that don’t give you much return for your work, learning how to work more in less time, and staying focused. It’s not often easy, but it is simple.
Do these things:
Sometimes, less is more.
Working effectively and productively is about time management. There are only so many hours in the day you can work, but working 24/7 won’t always lend you profit and success. The key is to maximize the productivity of the time you spend working and thus minimize the actual amount of time you have to work. Sometimes, shaving your hours contributes to better performance and better work/life balance.
Sleep as much as you need, and don’t feel ashamed for going to sleep at a reasonable hour. If possible, maintain a 40-hour work week and take weekends off all the time. Stress, sleep deprivation, working overtime — all of these things actually make your productivity drastically decrease. Studies have shown that a 5-day, 40-hour work week is optimal for most people to produce the best work possible.
Even the most successful people can’t do everything on their own: that’s why huge companies with highly efficient CEOs delegate. But aside from delegation, and if the chances are you’re not a CEO, being productive means reducing the time spent working on something important. Asking for help is an excellent way to stop squandering your time.
Now, don’t go crying to supervisors and co-workers every time you need something done, or you’ll look much less efficient, and the point will be moot. Use judgment to recognize when you truly need help, and when you just don’t feel like putting in the necessary work.
Turns out that the most successful people make a detailed list of the day’s duties and expectations before the work day even starts, so they have a concrete example of what the day will look like. It’s a lot harder to be lazy and stop working when you have this list staring back at you, reminding you that you’ll have that much more work to do tomorrow if you don’t do all of this today.
Don’t do these things:
Say yes all the time
Just don’t do it, promise? Saying yes to everything and anything because you feel obligated only burns you out. Instead of saying yes to everything, say yes only to the things that are worth your time and effort. Work is meant to give you a return on your investment; if you’re not getting that return, then say no.
Isn’t that insane? Turns out, checking email at the beginning of your workday is a total time suck. It’s a distraction that makes you more reliant on busy work to feel productive, rather than focusing on the more difficult projects that are actually important. Instead of clearing your inbox every morning, check the urgent messages and leave the rest. Focus on the big projects to make you feel proud of your accomplishments. Feeling satisfied and proud of a job well done gives you that much positive motivation to keep working.
Also under this heading is “check social media.” As a self-professed Instagram addict, this is the hardest thing to forgo.
Be a perfectionist
Trying to do everything perfectly one hundred percent of the time wastes that time and ends up adding to your dissatisfaction. You will never be able to do everything perfectly, and you have to realize that before starting any project. Focusing on doing everything perfectly takes your mind off the bigger picture and more rooted in the small details, i.e. those things that aren’t as important. It will never be perfect.