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Top ways to boost your productivity at work

|Feb 7|magazine13 min read

There are more distractions at work than ever before. We live in a digital age and spend the vast majority of our time at work either in front of a laptop, staring at a screen or tapping away on a smartphone. For every productivity app or website, there are a million YouTubes, Twitters, Facebooks and BuzzFeeds ready to grab your attention and sap your productivity.

Being productive takes practice, and you need to set yourself ground rules and milestones to achieve it. Procrastination will not be overcome with copious amounts of coffee and erratic list making – no matter how many times you wish this were true. The only way to beat distraction and stay on task is by changing the way your work and breaking bad habits.

Saying that, procrastination is not the only reasons for low output and under performance. Taking on too much, poor time management, negativity and stress are also major contributors. The tips below will help you boost productivity, increase quality and feel more accomplished on a daily basis. What are you waiting for?

Put these habits into practice and see a surge in productivity:

SET YOURSELF ACHIEVABLE GOALS

We have all been there, but if you start your day with a to-do list the length of your arm you’ll probably achieve less than if you focused on three or four tasks. Psychologically, if you know that you will be unable to achieve everything on your list, then the element of personal competition is lost – you might as well put that report off until tomorrow because you’re unlikely to get it done today with everything else on your plate – right?

If you have 30 tasks on your to-do list, it’s likely you won’t even know where to begin. So guess where you start your day – on Twitter, on Facebook or at the coffee machine – panicking. Take a more focused approach to your to-do list, think seriously about what you need to achieve during the day and give yourself reasonable time to complete each task. Not only will you be able to get them done, giving yourself a real sense of achievement, but you will also complete them to a higher standard because you have the focus and the time you need.

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DO ONE THING AT A TIME

Stop trying to do 15 things at once! If you are constantly flitting between different tasks and projects, you will find it almost impossible to focus on each one. The most productive among us do one thing at a time, and they do it well. They don’t give in to distractions and will only move onto something different once they have completed the previous task.

At the beginning of your day plan a schedule. What are you going to tackle first - this should always be the most time consuming or daunting task - second and third? Estimate how long each project should take and monitor your own progress to ensure you are not falling behind. Many people confused productivity with volume. Doing 12 tasks badly is less productive that doing five exceptionally well. Finding the balance is key to your success.

CHECK YOUR EMAILS AT PLANNED INTERVALS

Check your emails at planned intervals throughout the day and watch your productivity increase ten fold. By checking your emails – an responding proactively – at say 8am, 11am, 2pm and 4pm, rather than having them on in the background all day means that not only will you avoid distraction, but when you do read them you will answer productively.

Email is an incredible business tool, but it can also be extremely disruptive. Not everyone is aware of appropriate email etiquette and a message that could have been sent to one person may end up being forwarded to multiple recipients – a lot of email traffic is just noise – don’t let it sap your creative energy. If something cannot be solved within one of two email responses, pick up the phone. This kind of regimented approach will truly help you get ahead.

STAY POSITIVE

Negativity is a real productivity killer. Don’t engage in negative gossip in the office and distance yourself from colleagues who prefer to complain about tasks rather than get them done. Encourage yourself to think positively, apply yourself fully to your work, think of ways to improve your own performance and encourage your peers. Not only will you become more productive, you will also find you enjoy your work a lot more and gain more from it.

Some great ways to encourage positivity include going to a walk or run before work in the morning, listening to your favorite music on the way into the office, eating healthily and taking pride in everything you do. Start living life as well as you can and positivity is a by-product.

TAKE REGULAR BREAKS

Throughout the day give yourself regular breaks, it will refresh your mind, clear your head and give you the energy to tackle the next thing on your to-do list. Go for a short walk, go and grab a coffee or even take five minutes to check your Facebook or Twitter. By allowing yourself some time-off, you will also be far less tempted to procrastinate. A few short breaks throughout the day will also help improve the quality of your work; you will come back recharged and ready to achieve greater efficiency.

Follow these simple steps and begin to see a more productive, efficient and accomplished you emerge. Your work, attitude and application will improve – as will your chances of a promotion.