Ways to Improve Productivity at Work

If you’re like most people, you think of yourself as a hard worker, and you probably are. However, you probably have wasted time in your day that could be put to better use. By addressing the five practices of procrastination, planning, prioritizing, communications, and delegation, you can significantly raise your own productivity. Chances are you could improve in one or more of these areas.

For most people, procrastination is the biggest time-sink. The first step to overcoming procrastination is to acknowledge that you procrastinate, whether you’re reading email, chatting with a co-worker, or thinking about getting a snack from the vending machine. Knowing the things that...

you’re most likely to procrastinate about is another way to diffuse the time-killing power of procrastination. What do you put off as long as possible and why? Identify the reasoning behind your procrastination and you can often find solutions, such as breaking down overwhelming projects, or rescheduling them so you get them out of the way sooner. Banishing procrastination does wonders for your time management.

Planning is necessary for new projects and for repeated tasks. Using a computer calendar or a desk planner for recording repeat projects gives you a “heads up” for when you need to start getting ready for repeat tasks (such as quarterly tax preparation). For big projects, break it down into steps and assign dates to complete the steps. If you delegate tasks, keep track of who is doing it and how they are progressing. Planning is one tool that can help prevent procrastination as well as making big projects seem more manageable.

Prioritizing tasks is a big time saver. If you bounce from task to task, not completing any of them, it’s easy to feel as if you’ve accomplished nothing at the end of the day. If you find yourself constantly panicking to meet deadlines, it’s a good sign that you need to prioritize your tasks better. Prioritizing takes place both short term (like prioritizing items in your in box every day) and long term (by prioritizing longer term projects based on deadlines).

Communication can prevent lots of problems. Make sure you understand instructions given to you and that instructions you give to those who report to you are clear. If your boss gives you instructions for something you need to do by noon, try repeating the instructions back in your own words at the end of the conversation to ensure that you understand. Be clear and concise, and if there appears to be confusion, try to clear it up immediately.

Effective delegation is a fifth way to increase productivity at work. If you have staff that report to you, delegate what you can without overburdening them. If you have a routine task that the summer intern can attend to, communicate your instructions clearly and leave the task to him or her. Always review delegated work promptly to ensure it’s been done properly. If so, sincerely thank the person. After all, they’re saving you time to pursue higher level work without the hassle.

Anyone can increase their productivity by practicing a few basic steps like avoiding procrastination, planning adequately, prioritizing tasks, communicating clearly, delegating when possible.

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