Six steps to being more productive every day

A heavy workload can be daunting. But by structuring your time, and thinking ahead, those tasks might get finished sooner than you think…

Six steps to being more productive every day

1. Make a list

Not on the back of an envelope, but on a pad of paper (or digital ‘stickie’) that is prominently displayed on your desk or screen. Prioritise the list and make sure you keep the important things front of mind. That doesn’t mean you should do them first. If there are quick fixes (like filing a receipt or calling to confirm a meeting), get them out of the way. It feels great to cross lots off the list in one go, and you’ll have a clearer path ahead for what needs to be done.

2. Give yourself a deadline

Think about how long a task should take, and then work against the clock to complete it. If it’s a new task, make a note of how long it took for next time. If you’ve done it before, be realistic about the time you allow. Deadlines keep us focused and moving forward, and are a good guard against distractions!

3. Make time for the inevitable…

Phones ring, emails arrive, queries crop up… the working day is peppered with unexpected, unsolicited calls, contacts and questions. Set aside a time every day to answer emails and return phone calls. Let others know when that time is, so they don’t think you’re ignoring them. You’ll be more constructive with your time, because you won’t spend half the day answering other people’s queries.

4. Turn off the phone

If you really need to concentrate, take the phone off the hook and put your mobile on ‘vibrate’. Emergency calls will reach you via someone else in the office, and the Caller ID on your mobile will tell you who’s ringing, so you can choose to answer if you want. Close the door if you have one, with a Do Not Disturb sign for added effect!

5. Keep a steady head

Don’t feel overwhelmed by a huge workload. Do tasks one at a time, work methodically, and give everything the time and consideration it needs. Remember to do the quick fixes on your to-do list as well as the priority ones. You might be surprised how quickly your list shrinks!

6. De-clutter your desk

It’s very difficult to work at a messy, cluttered desk. Stacks of paperwork and files are distracting, and will take your eye off the tasks in hand. Keep a rubbish bin by your desk and use it, and try to keep on top of filing. You’ll be more efficient – and less stressed – if you can find things when you need them.