Getting Productive

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How to maximize your time at the office.

I’ve written about my favorite ways to maximize my time out of office, but with shiny New Year’s resolutions all about increasing work productivity, I thought it would be a good idea to focus on office productivity.

5 ways you can maximizing your work flow:

  1. Refresh your lunches. Lunch is often a much needed break from the busyness, stress, or tediousness of work. But rushing off to find take out or eating cold pizza in the break room isn’t exactly relaxing or rejuvenating. If you aren’t client-facing, can you eat lunch at your desk and then spend your lunch break getting some steps in? A little exercise is a great way to break up the day and refresh yourself for the hours in front of the computer still to come.
  2. Set timers. I believe that, for the most part, we take as long as we are given to complete a task. So if I have 3 hours vs 4 to turn something in, chances are the quality of my work might not be that different even with the extra hour. Try setting a timer for the smaller tasks in your life. Need to draft a proposal? Set a three-hour timer. Need to shoot off some emails? Set a 30-minute timer. Need to read a chapter of a text book? You guessed it: set a timer. This will make you more cognizant of the time you typically spend completing tasks and will push you toward the wonderful world of Done, Not Perfect.
  3. Prioritize. I love “To Do” lists, but they can easily become counter-productive. I find that I always tackle the fun or easy tasks first, not necessarily the most important. Start prioritizing your “To Do” lists with a 1, 2, or 3 next to each task so you can see what needs to get done first. Or, use a to-do Matrix like this one: To-Do List Matrix
  4. Take breaks. We all need to shake out our legs and get some fresh air, especially if you are in a windowless office. Make a goal to stand up once every hour. Use it as an excuse to deliver a message instead of emailing, refill your water bottle, or go to the bathroom. Even a 60-second mental break can be the refresh you need to push forward on a project. But be careful when reaching for your Instagram or Facebook during this break – they can become a dangerous time vortex and don’t allow your brain to take the processing pause it needs.
  5. Ask why. We often do things out of habit – because we think we should, and for countless other reasons. Next time you go to complete that monthly task, stop to ask yourself why. What is the value this task creates? Is there a way to do it more simply? Does it need to happen this often? You might be surprised to find how much time you can save by taking a few seconds to ask “Why?”

It is time to de-glorify busy and start getting more productive – and these simple steps might just help you do that. In the U.S. culture, employees are often given gold stars for staying late and checking emails on the weekends (or worse: they aren’t even being praised and are expected to do so). But in Denmark, employees who work off hours are seen as inefficient with their time because they should be completing their work during their 37 hour work week (yes, that is the average…I’m jealous too). I think we need to take the Danish approach in the U.S., and I am going to start with these five tips.

-TM

What are your office productivity tips? Let us know below.

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