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Careers Clinic: 6 Steps To Becoming More Productive At Work

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Productivity is thought to be the holy grail of career success. You know that being more productive means getting to the end of a to-do-list, leaving work on time, meeting deadlines and exceeding expectations. And you want to get more done at work and spend more time focusing on getting ahead. Putting the theory into practice is often more challenging. These practical tips will increase your productivity.

Nail to-do lists

We all have to-do-lists the length of our arm and often putting things on it as a way of avoiding to do them at all. So don’t put a call or email on your list that you could do straight away, or if a task takes less than 5 minutes to do, do it immediately. Break your tasks into two separate lists – one for reminders and one for action.

Impose strict deadlines and stick to them

Once you have your reminder versus action lists, impose deadlines. Identify timeframes during which you want to complete each task e.g. before 11 am, 1 pm and home time. Alert others not to disrupt you by putting in your headphones or moving to a quiet workstation. By separating a to-do-list into reminders versus action, and imposing strict deadlines, your productivity increases beyond belief.

Ignore unnecessary distractions

Ignore emails, social media alerts and only answer exceptionally important calls while you are getting tasks done. If you are serious about becoming more productive, you have to make a conscious decision to block out these distractions. The voicemail, the social media alert or the ‘do you have a minute’ person, can wait until you are finished.

Stop multi-tasking

Multi-tasking tricks you into believing you are getting more done than you really are. Just think about the last time you wrote an email while on the phone, checked your emails while in a meeting or left something you were doing for ‘one-minute’ to get something else done? In reality, you are giving a small amount of attention to several things while not doing any single task as well as possible. So stop multi-tasking and begin to focus-task. Take one task do it well, finish it, then move on to another job, do it well, and so on.

Take a break

When you have to ‘think outside the box’, be creative or have an important decision to make, take 15 minutes out. Grab your headphones, put on your favourite playlist and get out of the office. Taking time away from a task coupled, with a brisk walk and a coffee is the perfect way to get your blood flowing. When you get back to your desk, you will have fresh eyes, a clear head and are significantly more likely to get things done.

Always take your lunch

Linked to the 15-minute break but so important it deserves attention of its own – is your lunch break. While we are all guilty of grabbing lunch to go and heading back to the desk to eat, the simple facts are you are counterproductive. Your lunch should be a social time and your food a source of happiness not a source of fuel. Move away from your desk to eat your lunch, go for a brisk walk, read a book or chat with colleagues. Taking your lunch break re-energises you and significantly boosts productivity in the three hours before home time.

By Sinead Brady

@CareertoLove

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