Employee performance is a growing concern for business owners, and many of them are taking unique measures to keep their employees happy and productive. One New Zealand firm known as Perpetual Guardian recently shifted its employees to a four-day workweek instead of five, finding that its team members became far less stressed while producing the same amount of work.
Unfortunately, this approach hasn’t exactly caught on as a trend, which means that many employees have to take happiness, engagement and productivity into their own hands. Whether you want a promotion or you’re trying to prevent a layoff by making yourself more valuable, increasing productivity is the path to success.
Looking to make yourself a noticeably more productive member of the team? Here are a few steps to help you get there:
1. Track your time.
Unless you have a direct supervisor standing over your desk and watching your computer screen, there is likely little keeping you from sneaking peeks at your Facebook account or going down a rabbit hole of cute animal pictures. A crucial step toward increasing your productivity is finding a way to make yourself accountable for the time you spend.
Using a time tracker such as Toggl or Nutcache can help you see how much time you’re devoting to a single project, encouraging you to focus on completing each assignment in a timely manner. It’s harder to browse Instagram when you know the clock is ticking.
2. Say yes to “Do Not Disturb” mode.
Nearly all smartphones have this feature, and while it’s designed for distraction-free sleep, it can also do wonders for your workday. Just turn on Do Not Disturb mode any time you need to focus, and you’ll significantly limit outside alerts pinging you out of your groove.
3. Give yourself a break.
While you don’t want your time to drain away through repeated distractions, taking planned breaks from the grind will help keep you sharp. Try methods such as the Pomodoro Technique — which suggests breaking large tasks into shorter, more manageable chunks — to build some scheduled relief into your day.
4. Say no to pointless meetings.
According to Elon Musk, “Excessive meetings are the blight of big companies and almost always get worse over time.” You may have only so much control over meetings if you aren’t in a management position, but do what you can to cut out any meetings that don’t have a defined agenda and desired outcome beforehand. You’ll be amazed how much time you gain as a result.
5. Let others help you.
When you’re trying to be super productive, it can be tempting to bite off more than you can chew. But overachieving is a quick route to burnout. You’ll be more effective if you let your team function as it should, with every member participating.
“I’ve learned to trust my team members and their input instead of constantly spending my energy and attention on tiny details,” says Daniel Wesley, president of Quote.com. “It’s a huge time saver. Less distraction, more focus and more learning opportunities for the team all mean more success.”
6. Focus on the necessities.
Sometimes, the tasks themselves can become the distraction. Make sure you’re focusing on the right to-dos by creating a daily list of the most essential tasks you need to complete. Once you’ve finished the most crucial assignments, then you can attend to the secondary work guilt-free.
7. Step away from your desk.
The simple act of vacating your usual workspace can make a world of difference. Whether that means working remotely, which has been shown to increase productivity, or just standing up and going for a walk, getting away from your desk can put you in a better frame of mind when you’re feeling stuck.
8. Force optimism so you don’t get overwhelmed.
You’ve probably heard the saying “Fake it ’til you make it,” and there may actually be some scientific truth to the cliché. Showing optimism about your task load — even if you aren’t actually feeling it — can increase your confidence level and make your assignments easier to complete.
9. Capitalize on your critical hours.
Dr. Dona Matthews, a developmental psychologist, observes, “You are more productive when you spend your best hours on your most demanding tasks.” To knock out more work in the same amount of time, plan to do your toughest work during your most productive time of day.
Productivity is all about optimizing every minute of your day to keep your mind sharp and your task list moving along smoothly. While your job may occasionally feel overwhelming, implementing even one or two of these tricks can have a massive impact on the quality and efficiency of your work.