We all get distracted at work. Whether you’re refreshing emails, visiting the coffee machine too many times or staring out the window, we’re all guilty of wasting a little time here and there.
But how bad can it be? According to one study in particular, very.
In fact, it’s estimated that the average employee wastes around 60 hours a month in the workplace. That accounts for more than an entire week spent doing nothing in the office. At the best of times this might mean a couple of unproductive days. At the worst it leaves us at the mercy of looming deadlines, with a towering workload that should have been addressed weeks ago!
In order to get your time back and beat the vice of procrastination, you need a plan.
Below we breakdown our top tips for boosting your workplace productivity.
Get Organised (+15 Hours)
Lack of organization is one of the subtlest ways that we sabotage our own productivity. A messy desk might save us 5-10 minutes of cleaning, but at the cost of cluttering the mind. Filing your paperwork can make it much easier to find the information you need. Likewise, put everything you need within easy reach and give your desk a once-over before you leave.
When it comes to equipment, regularly check for any supplies you’re low on and stock up. Walking back and forth to the stationery cupboard each time you realise you haven’t got something isn’t going to boost your efficiency. It is also a good idea to keep a daily planner on hand to mark up to-do lists. Whether you’re using a paper diary or a digital tool like Trello or Google Calendar to track your schedule, planning your day will keep you from slacking off.
Track Time (+40 hours)
One of the best ways to boost your productivity in the workplace is to start tracking your time. There’s no better way to shine light on your performance than to look at how long it takes you to do a given task. You’ll be surprised how much time is wasted on simple tasks due to inefficiency, or laziness. To combat this, allocate yourself a set time to complete tasks.
If you want to go a step further, set aside a block of time for similar jobs, such as answering emails and making phone calls, to give your day some synergy. You want to minimize the amount of choices and distractions you make on a daily basis. Turning off email notifications can help you to stay focused for much longer. Likewise, using a specialised time-tracking system will give you more control and awareness over how you spend your day.
Prioritise (+15 hours)
Even if you draw up a to do list, you’ll get nowhere if you don’t prioritise your workload. Planning your workday in advance and setting some clear goals can help you to hit the ground running when you start your day. If you’ve got a lot of tasks on your plate, start by tackling the ones that are most important. You don’t want to be trying to complete a large task at the end of your day when your brain is fatigued.
Set micro-goals if an important task has many different steps to it – you’ll waste far less time and energy if you have a plan. Telling your daily or weekly goals to your colleagues at the start of each day or week can be helpful too. You will be able to hold each other accountable for task completion and motivate each other along the way.
Take Breaks (+30 hours)
Ironically, taking a break can be one of the most effective ways to increase your efficiency. Your mind can only take so much concentration before your performance starts to dwindle. Taking a few minutes or longer to relax can give you the break you need to mentally recharge. This way next time when you confront a task your mind will be fresh.
Try to arrive and leave around the same time each day so you develop consistency, and make sure to eat and drink enough to see you through the day. Even if you’re inundated with work, force yourself to take a short break. This may not be the most glamorous fix but no one can survive on endless trips to the coffee machine alone!
Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail
Ultimately, if you want to get more done with your time you need to prepare. Reorganizing your desk and your schedule can help you to optimize your time and get things done. And it’s important to recognize that ineffective management is one of the main causes of wasted time and lost focus.
Even if employees can’t fix every problem straight away, we can identify where we lose time at work and make small changes to our daily routines. By embracing preparation and following the tips above, you’ll make sure your days are much more productive.