News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay

This article was first published 9 years ago  » Getahead » 5 ways to improve your productivity at work

5 ways to improve your productivity at work

By Khiv Singh
March 03, 2015 12:44 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

The challenge for the modern day professional is an ever-expanding ‘to-do’ list and an increase in time spent on work at and away from office. The answer may lie in improving your productivity -- getting more done in less time. That’s easier said than done though. Here are 5 work-habits you should consider adopting if you want to do more with less, time that is!

1. Do not call

Venus Williams said ‘I focus on my goals and I try to ignore the rest.’ That is sound advice. Consider the sheer number of interruptions in our day ranging from email, phone calls, instant and phone messages and that doesn’t even count colleagues trying to get you to join their coffee break. Studies have shown that we may be interrupted as often as 73 times in a typical work day and that it may take as long as 20-25 minutes after each break to get back to peak concentration.

Clearly the first thing to do is turn off the distractions -- put that phone on silent, close that email window and put out that ‘do not disturb’ sign.

Putting the task at hand at the forefront of the consciousness and letting it occupy all the focus and mental bandwidth is what we call being mindful about work.

2. Bust the multi-tasking myth

Be honest! How many of you think ‘multi-tasking’ is one of your strengths? We’ve all tried working on emails while on a conference call or checking our messages while in a meeting but neuro-science tells us this is not multi-tasking -- the brain just switches from one task to the other.

The bad news is that there is a significant loss of efficiency each way due to this switching. Stanford professor Clifford Nash puts it very bluntly ‘‘Multi-taskers are terrible at every single aspect of multi-tasking. They’re terrible at ignoring irrelevant information, they’re terrible at keeping information in their head nicely and neatly organised, and they’re terrible at switching from one task to another’.

The message is very clear -- do one thing at a time and do it well.

3. The plan truth

Time management author Alan Lakein had famously said that failing to plan was the same as planning to fail. This suggests a way to approach the work day in a way designed to yield more output. Start the day by breaking it into 4 or 5 chunks of 90 or so minutes each -- that’s about the limit of concentrated effort the mind can take.

Build in appropriate breaks and time off. Short bursts of concentrated effort are the way to go to get more done.

4. Join the club

We have seen how the mind switches from one task to the other and also suggested to break the work day into manageable chunks. A natural extension emerges -- the suggestion is that in those chunks of concentrated work try to group activities that call for similar action or that can reduce the need for context switching.

An example is doing similar tasks like report preparation or addressing emails in clumps. 

5. The path to self-quantification

To know where one has to go, it is first imperative to know where one stands to start with. Self-quantification is a move to take a dispassionate view of one’s own work habits to identify those that are causing time or effort to be wasted.

This also allows one to identify exactly what effort is being put into each task and the amount of time being spent on tasks that may not be core. Once you know what is not working the logical next step is to be mindful of those habits and to slowly reduce their influence.   

Let me close with one more quote -- Paul Meyer said ‘Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focussed effort.’

Truer words may never have been spoken about the state of personal effort and achievement in the work-place today!

Photograph: hatalmas/Creative Commons

The author is AVP Sales -- America, Sapience Analytics

Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
Khiv Singh