I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing I dread more than having to take my work home with me or staying late after work. I used to blame these instances on getting assigned an abnormally large workload on certain days, but when I got honest with myself, I admitted that I wouldn’t have to do so much after-hours work if I were more productive during working hours. I was determined to figure out how I could get more accomplished at work.
The first thing I did was start capitalizing on the first and last hour of work, when many workers are the least productive. Most of us who have access to the Internet at work tend to ease into and out of the workday, checking e-mail, news and entertainment websites and social networks for the first 30 minutes and the last 30 minutes of an average workday. Add that together and you’ve missed an entire hour of productivity! Change, for me, meant hitting the ground running as soon as I arrived at the office, and working solid through the end of my workday.
This wasn’t an easy process, but I got help by something I happened to hear on the radio pertaining to office productivity. At the end of each workday, take five to ten minutes to draw up a list of what you need to get started on first thing in the morning. This will keep you from using up a good portion of your morning “getting organized” and determining which tasks to complete first.
One of my weaknesses at work is I am also a bit of a social butterfly. I used to flit from desk to desk talking with co-workers, another time-waster that consistently killed my productivity. Now I bring headphones to the office and listen to Pandora or a favorite radio station streaming online while I work so I don’t get sucked into any juicy side conversations. I do value my work relationships, however, so I make a point of going to lunch with my co-workers from time to time instead of chatting when I need to get things done.
Speaking of lunch, the interruption of your workday around lunch can also distract you from getting work done. Just like many workers ease into and out of their workday goofing off or surfing the Web for non-work-related purposes, many of us also ease into and out of our lunch break. I used to tell myself, “Well I don’t want to get started on this or that work task because I’ll be leaving for lunch in 30 minutes.” Now I realize that completing half of a project before lunch is much better than doing absolutely nothing before lunch. I’ll have something to launch right back into and polish off when I get back. Going along with this is making sure you don’t get in the habit of taking long lunches.
Finally, a big way to boost your productivity is to put your phone on silent, not vibrate, while at work, particularly if you have a smartphone, and pack it away in a drawer or purse where it’s not in sight. It’s too easy to get distracted texting and scrolling for new posts on social networks when your phone is beside you at all times.
Guest Bio: This guest post is contributed by Kate Willson, who writes on the topics of best online colleges. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.