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8 Tips to Increase Productivity at Work

Prabhleen Gupta

Prabhleen Gupta

Founder-Personal Mastery

how to increase productivity
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Labour productivity is a concept associated with the amount of work that can be done and the results obtained in a given amount of time.

In many industries and lines of business with very well-defined production processes, the measurement of productivity can be established through clear objectives, tangible criteria, and data.

However, there are many professional activities where this measurement is not so simple due to the nature of the work being performed and a more intangible criterion for measuring the value of the results.

In addition to the difficulty of finding ways to improve and measure productivity in many areas and professional activities, there is the extraordinary moment we are living. To the hyper-connectivity, globalization, and automation of many functions through technology, we need to add the need to work in a distributed manner with a forced adaptation of teleworking due to the global pandemic. In this environment, all professionals must find routines, habits, and ways to organize themselves in an individualized way to optimize their time and resources and enable scenarios to improve their professional productivity daily.

Here are eight tips to help you improve your productivity at work

To increase your productivity daily, it is essential that you also consider your priorities and needs in your personal life outside your working hours since a fundamental element of your ability to generate results is your level of well-being. Here are some

1. Establish clear priorities both professionally and personally.

One of the most important skills to improve your productivity at work is to separate the important from the urgent. The fundamental difference between these two concepts is that the urgent always comes from the outside, while the important comes from inside you. It is defined by you, not by others.

In order to establish what is important, it is imperative to have clearly defined priorities so that these priorities may guide the way you organize your time and your activity. When setting priorities, it is essential that you also include personal priorities, allowing you to establish a balance between your activity inside and outside of work.

To set priorities, I propose a simple exercise. Imagine that a year has passed since today. You are reviewing how you have done this last year, and you are very satisfied with your achievements and your results, professionally and personally. Now answer these two questions

  • What are the 3 – 5 achievements or results that have made it a great year for you professionally?
  • What are the 3 – 5 accomplishments or results that have made it a great year for you personally?

2. Establish an effective routine to start your day.

In his book, The 5 AM Club, the best-selling author Robin Sharma focuses on the start of each day as a key element for productivity.

The way you start your day has a fundamental impact on how your day will unfold and your mindset to generate the energy you need to be productive. In his book, the author presents the 202090 routines for each morning.

  • The first 20 minutes are dedicated to a physical activity that helps you generate dopamine and activate your body. Choose an activity that fits your needs. You can do yoga, stretching or exercise at home, or you can do an outdoor activity like running or cycling.
  • The next 20 minutes are dedicated to reflection and connection with the day ahead.
  • To do this you can write in a journal, write down your thoughts, collect things you are grateful for and write down important tasks you want to accomplish today.
  • The next 90 minutes are dedicated to the most important thing you need to accomplish today. That is, putting first things first.

3. Make your calendar your best friend.

Often we only use our calendar to schedule meetings leaving many professional and personal tasks and commitments out of it, which leads to inefficiency and a state of stress because we often don’t get to do everything.

The most important task you must carry out to complete something and improve your productivity is to allocate time to it. Without time it is impossible to complete anything. To be productive, it is essential that you plan your day and your week effectively, and that means allocating time slots for different tasks, professionally and also personally. Schedule slots in a single calendar for all your tasks and commitments in all areas of your life and be sure to schedule times in your day or your week to review and update it.

4. Take care of the basics, watch your rest and nutrition.

Productivity starts with wellness. If you are physically unwell, it is impossible for you to be productive. Therefore it is tremendously important that you take care of the basics, your rest hours and your diet. To be productive, you need energy, and if your body is not well-rested and nourished, it will be impossible for you to generate the energy you need.

Establish a healthy routine to get a good night’s sleep. Turn off electronic devices. The blue light generated by the screens of our devices activates the brain and keeps us away from sleep. Recognize the hours of sleep you need to feel rested. They are not the same for everyone and establish a schedule that makes it possible for you.

Use moments of disconnection during the day. In a comfortable position without lying down, close your eyes and connect with your breath by calming your mind for a few minutes. The brain needs moments of low frequency to optimize its performance.

Set a schedule for your meals and eat light and healthy but frequent meals. Avoid heavy meals. Your body needs energy for the digestion process. If you eat a lot and heavy meals, you will have a hard time finding energy in the afternoon. It is better to eat light meals and have healthy snacks during the day, such as fruit or nuts.

5. Don’t isolate yourself. Connect and nurture your personal relationships.

Human beings are social beings. A huge part of our well-being comes from social interactions with people we care about. Working from home can lead to isolation. Lack of contact with other people, limited mobility and the closing of public spaces are limiting our interactions. It’s important to make time to connect with the people who matter in our lives. In whatever format you can, if you can’t see each other in person, set up video conferences, but make it a priority to keep in touch through meaningful conversations that are important to you, that give you space to share, to generate another perspective, to maintain connections and a sense of belonging.

A sense of belonging is a fundamental human need. We are all born with the need to be seen, to be recognized, and to be part of something. Social media is not a good substitute for this. They are often more of a distraction than help and often create a feeling of loneliness despite the noise and activity.

There is no substitute for human relationships. Establishing and maintaining trusting relationships that provide you with support and security is fundamental to your well-being. Focus on the relational part of your life.

6. Improve your communication and collaboration skills.

An important part of your professional day will be dedicated to teamwork. In this context, your productivity and your ability to perform well in a group depend to a large extent on your communication and collaboration skills. In all areas, professionally and personally, communication is the most important skill when it comes to collaborating and generating results, whether with your team or with your family.

Planning a meeting effectively, allocating the right amount of time for each topic, leading the conversation into action, agreeing on roles and responsibilities for different tasks, managing conflict and bringing together different visions are fundamental collaboration skills that can be learned and developed.

Designing messages effectively, communicating clearly and assertively, inspiring and motivating to action, generating new scenarios and possibilities through conversation, giving clear instructions or persuading in an influential way are key communication skills that can also be learned and developed.

7. Put your focus on the 20% maximum impact. Avoid multitasking.

The Italian-French engineer, sociologist, economist and philosopher Vilfredo Federico Pareto established last century a statistical principle that became known as the Pareto principle or more commonly known as the 8020 rule. This principle describes the statistical phenomenon whereby in any population contributing to a common effect, it is a small proportion that contributes to most of the effect.

This principle has been extended to many areas related to productivity. For example, when a warehouse has a large inventory, in order to concentrate control efforts on the most significant items, the Pareto principle is often used. Thus, by controlling 20% of the stored products, approximately 80% of the value of the items in the warehouse can be controlled.

Applying the Pareto principle to your work would mean establishing that 20% of your activity controls 80% of your results. Not everything you do in your day-to-day work has the same impact or contributes in the same way to your results. If you can identify the key activities that generate the greatest impact on your results, you can focus on them and optimize your time.

Focus is fundamentally about avoiding multitasking and distractions. If you manage your activity from your calendar by assigning time slots to specific tasks, you will gain focus. If you can also identify the tasks that generate more impact on your results, you can give them more priority and more time, improving your productivity.

8. Sharpen the saw and get insanely good at key skills.

The last tip for improving productivity has to do with your personal and professional development. The constant development and improvement of your skills is what Stephen Covey called sharpening the saw in his bestselling book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It is the last habit and also the last tip on this list, but it is just as important as the others.

In your professional context, there are a number of key skills that are essential to get the most out of your activity. Some of them are generic because of the current circumstances in which we live. These fundamental skills are.

  • Critical thinking – The ability to find new answers and innovate by asking new questions.
  • Creativity – The ability to transcend established ideas, rules, patterns or relationships to create new solutions and new models of thinking, collaborate, design or produce.
  • Collaboration – The ability to generate an outcome with a team that is greater and more valuable than the sum of individual contributions.
  • Communication – Communication is the one that has the greatest impact on mobilizing, organizing, inspiring, motivating, leading, creating demand, selling, supporting and establishing valuable relationships.

Within your work environment, there is also a set of specific skills and competencies that are key to improving your professional productivity. Identifying them and mastering them will allow you to generate much more value with your work.

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