Note: This post is written by Joan Selby
A productive member of society is the bastion of civilization.
People that contribute little or nothing to society are a burden to it. That said, all work and no play make Jack a dull boy, so there’s no call to look down on people that want to have a little fun.
However, productivity is critical to your work success.
Whether you are a regular employee or self-employed, your level of productivity will determine how far you will go. It makes it easier to be productive when you like what you do, but no matter how much you love your work, sometimes you need an extra boost.
Here are four best tips to boost your productivity at work.
1. Set a Schedule for Yourself
Regular employees have work schedules, but that does not mean they are productive the whole time they are at work.
The self-employed are even in worse case, because they don’t have a regular schedule. A schedule provides structure to your day, and narrows down your choices on what you should do at any given time.
American psychologist Barry Schwartz says in his book The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, “choose less and feel better.” When you have too many choices, you feel unhappy and anxious, and tend to make wrong decisions on what you should do based on how you are feeling.
Eliminate the agonies of indecision by scheduling your tasks according to priority. What needs your attention immediately? How much time do you need to accomplish a task? If you are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work you need to do, for example, you may be tempted to simply walk away from it.
Scheduling these tasks helps you concentrate on one thing at a time, and before you know it, you’ve done everything you needed to do. Break down a major project into smaller, more manageable chunks to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Setting a schedule with realistic time frames will also help you decide what you need to delegate, and when you should say no.
2. Take Breaks
Many people find it hard to focus when they work on something for too long a stretch. Their attention wanders, and their bodies begin to ache. This is a signal from your brain it is being overloaded.
It would especially be true if you are wrestling with a difficult problem. This is the principle behind the Pomodoro Technique, where you intersperse short breaks between longer bouts of work.
You can be more productive if you step back for a little while from what you are doing. Take a short walk to the cooler for a drink of water, or take a longer coffee break to stretch your legs and think about something else for a little while. When you go back to your task, it will be with fresh eyes and more focused attention.
3. Quit Multitasking
You might think you can get more work done when you multitask. You might get through more work, but you are likely to botch one or all of them when you do.
According to one study, trying to accomplish more than one task at a time can significantly reduce your productivity. After all, productivity is a noun, not a verb.
The mere act of doing does not mean achieving. The human brain is not equipped to focus and process more than one task at a time. When you force your brain to work on two or more tasks simultaneously, it simply switches from one to the other as needed.
Because there is a tiny lag every time you switch tasks, this can lead to mistakes and misses. It can also heighten your sense of stress and fatigue. You end up not getting anything done, or doing one or more things poorly. This reflects on your overall productivity.
Quit multitasking and concentrate on doing one task at a time as well and quickly as you can before moving on to the next. This is a good time to make use of your scheduling mojo.
4. Set Deadlines for Yourself
An important aspect of scheduling is setting a reasonable amount of time to accomplish a task.
However, this does not mean you can take your sweet time. Your productivity depends on how well you use your time, so manage it wisely. A deadline will also keep you motivated to work faster and shut out distractions. People have a tendency to seek structure in everything they do because it makes them feel more secure and in control.
Industrial designer and MythBusters host Adam Savage says, “Deadlines refine the mind. They remove variables like exotic materials and processes that take too long. The closer the deadline, the more likely you’ll start thinking waaay outside the box.”
Deadlines condition the mind to work within those confines no matter what, and prompt the mind to come up with ways to accomplish the mission in the time allotted. In other words, you gotta do what you gotta do. Set deadlines to make sure you can accomplish all the tasks you need within the time you have.
Productivity is not about just doing things, but doing things right the first time. These top tips can help you on the path of productivity at work and heightened job satisfaction. It will also help you manage your time so you can work hard, and play hard.
Joan Selby is an ESL teacher and a content marketer at Edugeeksclub which provides online assistance to students and supports them. Former CalArts graduate and fancy shoelover. A writer by day and reader by night. Giving creative touch to everything. Find her on Twitter and Facebook