The Washington Post is rightly skeptical of wild claims that American workers fritter away trillions of dollars in wealth due to lost workplace productivity. It’s not at all clear that our economy is really losing $1.8 trillion each year to bad habits and poor work ethic.
But it’s not at all controversial to note that most people could be more productive, if only they’d put their minds to it. If you find yourself in that camp, you’ll want to try out these six straightforward workplace productivity strategies. Here’s to getting more done!
1.- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Worrying about petty internal conflicts or perceived slights is a great way to sap your productivity. It diverts mental energy away from the tasks at hand and increases the likelihood of preventable mistakes.
“Spending so much time mentally entertaining or sharing your angry, resentful and vindictive thoughts is self-tormenting and a misuse of your attention and energies,” writes Autonomy and Life founder Arnold Siegel.
As hard as it sounds, you need to train yourself to ignore or at least compartmentalize everyday trifles — and save your emotional bandwidth for truly important matters.
2.- Structure Your Time
Next, take measured steps to structure and protect your time. Assign discrete tasks to discrete blocks of time, and try (to the extent an unpredictable schedule allows) to stick to a routine — in other words, to perform the same tasks during the same blocks of time on an ongoing basis.
If you need more ideas to structure your on-the-clock schedule, check out these tips from the University of Leicester.
3.- Organize Your Workspace
If your workspace is cluttered or disorganized, get it in shape. Make sure you can easily access the items you need on a regular basis and that no important documents or devices get lost in the clutter. Avoid desktop clutter, the bane of millions of white collar workers’ existences.
“Supplies used every day can go on the desk,” writes CNN Money reporter Kathryn Vasel. “Items used a couple times a week should go in a drawer under or to the side of a desk.”
Words to live by, indeed.
4.- Delegate Effectively (And Without Hesitation)
If you’re in a position to delegate lower-value tasks to subordinates or colleagues, do so promptly — and with enthusiasm. Protecting your time isn’t merely about structuring and routinizing it. It’s also about making sure you’re not spending valuable minutes on tasks better suited to someone else.
5.- Automate Time-Consuming Processes and Tasks
Some tasks don’t need direct human oversight at all. Wherever possible, use automated software to handle rote or routine processes that would otherwise tie up valuable human resources. If your organization has yet to invest wholesale in process automation, bring it up with your boss — or, if your position allows, take the initiative yourself.
6.- Dole Out Small Rewards for Jobs Well Done
Always reward yourself for a job well done. Whenever you complete a task that’s been hanging over your head, do something to celebrate — whether that’s taking an extra-long lunch break or buying yourself a small gift. If you don’t take the time to recognize your successes, how can you expect anyone else to do the same?
Productivity Begins at Home
Productivity isn’t just a 9-to-5 (or 5-to-9) issue. Truly effective people are masters of efficiency on the homefront, too. This frees them to be more productive when they’re on the clock.
If you’re frustrated by the inefficacy of your at-home routine, perhaps it’s time to consider some strategies to improve your domestic productivity: outsourcing routine or time-consuming chores, automating your finances to the extent possible (just as you automate rote work-related tasks), and organizing your possessions. With less to worry about at home, you’ll have more mental bandwidth to focus on getting the job done at work.