Direct Line Group

Productivity in the workplace

Posted by Direct Line Group at 04:39 PM

How to get more done at work
Fitting your workload into your working day can sometimes be difficult to achieve. But the key to attaining a better work-life balance is not to work harder and for longer, but to work more efficiently. This doesn’t mean becoming an automaton. Rather there are some simple steps you can take to streamline your working day and free up more time to enjoy the work you do, cut down on stress, and stop the ‘bleed’ of work into your lunch hour or free time.

  1. Take regular breaks
Most employers do not pay you for your lunch break. This is yours, so take it. Stepping out for a breath of fresh air is the perfect way to refresh yourself and to feel reinvigorated before stepping back into your work space. You’ll notice that you are actually more efficient once you’ve reclaimed a little ‘you’ time to replenish and get perspective. Creative ideas and approaches also come to you when you are more relaxed.
  1. Track the work you do
It can be quite useful to monitor how long routine tasks take, and then you can plan other activities and duties. This enables you to become more responsive to unexpected demands on your time.
  1. Set your own realistic deadlines
Rather than set one over-arching deadline, break the work down into miniature deadlines by dividing the task into manageable chunks. One big looming deadline can feel unnerving, but by breaking the task down into smaller jobs you will find you’ve met the final date with far less pressure and you will have integrated it into your workload smoothly.
  1. Give yourself time
With the advance of digital communication, there can be a tendency to feel that tasks must be completed faster than ever. Rather than communicate with colleagues and clients in digital fits and bursts, set time aside to catch up on particular projects and questions so your work is not constantly interrupted.
  1. Do little jobs quickly
There are two reasons for this. The first is that you put things in place that will help you to achieve the more demanding tasks, the second is that psychologically it makes you feel you are ‘getting things done’. Beware though: completing a flurry of minor jobs like refilling the stapler, though helpful, might actually constitute procrastination.
  1. Meet smartly
Many workers complain that their time is unnecessarily absorbed with unproductive meetings. If you have autonomy over your workload, then it’s a good idea to sometimes say no, or ask to exchange key information by some alternative means, such as email or Skype. If your employer obliges you to attend meetings you feel are unhelpful, then use this as an opportunity to create mental space, knowing that during that time there is precisely nothing you can do about it, so you might as well relax.
  1. One thing at a time
It’s tempting to feel daunted by a gigantic ‘to do’ list. Prioritising work by difficulty and deadline is one of the ways to take control and reduce the associated stress of ‘having too much on’. Taking time to write down what needs doing by when and strategising how you will approach the task means you are being proactive, not reactive. If it’s appropriate, disseminating tasks can also be helpful. We might feel that asking others to take particular responsibility for certain tasks means we lose control, but trusting others to help can take the load off you and empower them too.
  1. Let it go
Sometimes things happen at work that you can’t control: perhaps there’s an unfavorable top-down decision, or a colleague goes off sick and you inherit their workload. In these circumstances it helps to employ the above techniques as well as allowing yourself to ‘let go’ of the associated strain. You can only do what’s realistic. If you are struggling, approach your line manager. It is in theirs and the company’s interest that you can carry out your work effectively, so a good manager will want to help.
  1. Own your space
We spend a good proportion of our lives at work, so taking ownership of your space can make you feel more relaxed. Pictures of things that inspire you help, whether that’s a picture of a family member, a group photo of that amazing weekend away with friends, or an image of somewhere you would like to visit. Injecting nature into your workspace – a plant or vase of flowers – can create new energy, uplift and inspire you.
  1. Lead a rich non-work life.
While more companies are creating spaces for their employees in which to incorporate leisure or relaxation, increasingly and with the portable office of smartphones and laptops, work can creep into home life. Aim to feel fulfilled in your leisure hours. Pursue wider interests, sleep, eat well, maintain relationships with friends and family. Doing this will ensure you are psychologically and physically equipped to handle the work demands. Get this right and increased productivity will follow.
There are entire playlists committed to helping you to work smarter, not harder. Becoming familiar with approaches and techniques to help you in your work not only makes you more productive, but inevitably makes you happier too.
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