If you feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get your tasks done at work, it may be time to change up some of your work habits. Simple things like the time of day you check your email, how often you log on to social networking sites, and how you organize your to-do list all play a role in how productive you are throughout the day. Tweaking your schedule and taking advantage of some new apps can help to streamline your daily tasks so you end up having a much more productive day at work day in, day out.
Here are seven productivity boosters for the office:
1. Declutter your work space. Excess paperwork and knick knacks hanging around at your desk can be very distracting. Take the time to declutter your work area so you have only the basics–your computer, phone, a notebook, and other necessary items for a project. Get into the habit of clearing your desk of everything before you leave by the end of the day so you get every day off on the right start.
2. Be mindful about your social networking habits. How often do you check your Facebook News Feed or post status updates? How many times are you logging in to Twitter? Or just watching the stream on a Twitter app? Social networking sites seem innocent enough until you find yourself spending more than a few hours each day “just checking.” Close off these sites completely while working so you can focus on the task at hand. These mental distractions can take away from your productivity and creativity–-be mindful of your social media habits so you can make the most of your time at work.
3. Time your work tasks. Whether you’re working from home or at the office, manage your time better by keeping track of how long it takes you to complete some of your common tasks. Doing so will make it easier to get an accurate estimate of a day’s activities so you don’t overbook yourself. If you’ve ever found yourself rushing or stuck in overtime because of uncompleted tasks by the end of the day, you need better time management skills. “Scheduling” daily tasks with an accurate estimated time you need to complete it will help you
4. Ramp up your Internet speed. Faster internet could mean a boost in productivity for your entire office. When you’re not wasting time waiting for Web pages to load, you can manage online tasks more efficiently. You might even save some money by upgrading your Internet package; some companies offer some great deals on phone and Internet packages for companies.
5. Set up email filters. If you find yourself spending a lot of time just going through dozens (or hundreds) of emails every day, set up filters so that emails from certain people land in a separate box and you can respond accordingly. It might take some time to figure out where your emails are coming from, but once you do, you’ll find it much easier to organize all of your information so you’re only responding to the most important items and people as the messages flow in.
6. Set your own email “processing” times. Leaving your inbox in clear view while you work can kill your productivity. Set a few specific times of day that you can just go through a series of emails at once. Unless you’re waiting for some very time-sensitive information (or working with the boss on a project), you’ll rarely need to respond to an email right away–most senders will realistically expect a response within two or three hours. Carve out a few specific times in the day just for “email processing” so you can handle this simple task all at once.
7. Use calendar apps. But, be consistent with updating them. Calendar tools can help you stay organized, but you have to make sure you update your calendar regularly. Sync it to your phone or use services like Google Calendar so you can access your calendar from anywhere. You can set up notifications for meetings and events right through the calendar tool, and look at your week at a glance.