Productivity- the difference between "I had a great day today-I got so much done!" and the dreaded "What a terrible day, I was interrupted constantly all day, and got nothing done".
It often feels that our ability to be productive lies out of our control, and too often is in the hands of external forces- our co-workers, our phone, our e-mail inbox. However, that is just not true! There are many things you can do to have a really great, productive day, right now today. And not only for today, but to create good, positive work habits for life.
For many of us, the first thing we do each morning is turn on our PC, and check our e-mail. Blogger Sid Savara recently wrote a great article called '7 Reasons you should never check e-mail first thing in the morning'. Savara warns that checking e-mail first thing is a symptom of not knowing what else you're supposed to be doing, "an excuse to lack direction". He writes that because you are in "check e-mail mode", you start replying to them at the expense of the task you should be working on, and goes on to advise against letting e-mail suck you in, and cause you to devote more time to it than you can afford. http://sidsavara.com/personal-development/do-not-check-email-in-the-morning
Planning your work is vital- plan your week, and plan your day.
Determine what you need to work on, and give tasks a priority status so that you know which ones are high priority, and which ones are low priority. Make a to-do list; this can be a written one, or an online one. Make a timetable. And single-task. Tackle the task with the highest priority status first.
Timetables need to be revised and updated regularly. A task that you alloted a half day to complete, can sometimes end up taking a day and a half of your time. Be flexible, and manage your expectations. The outcome is most important-that the highest priority tasks get done, and done well.
To cut down on delays, it's essential to eliminate your own personal timewasters.
Beware of the distractions of co-workers. I suggest you look at the task that you are planning to work on- is it a collaborative task, or best done alone? Some collaborations are done best, sitting together in the same office, sometimes even at the same PC. So to be most productive, both people need to plan to schedule that time together.Some tasks require total space, a quiet place, and no distractions. According to 'Bring back our shushers' by John Woodworth, "Those employees unlucky enough to work in an 'open office' will run to building lobbies with their laptops. They plead for a telecommuting day. They hide in the dark corner of the company cafeteria with backs to the door, hoping no-one will see them". He also states that "Social Interaction has it's place and time, but so does uninterrupted work". http://passepartout.posterous.com
If the task requires peace and quiet, then in order to get the task done, ie to be productive, it is vitally important to create that workspace. Ask your employer if you can work from home on those days. The significant increase in your productivity will be worth him/her creating a more flexible work arrangement. Businesses lose $600 billion every year due to workplace distractions. That is according to the testimony of Ann Bamesberger of Sun Microsystems to the U.S House of Representatives in November 2007.
And now for some good news- breaks are good, and they boost your Productivity!
Dr. Brent Coker at the University of Melbourne has found that taking a few minutes off work to use social networks or to browse the Internet is actually a good thing, and does, in fact, boost productivity by giving the brain a break! "Short and unobtrusive breaks such as a quick surf of the Internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days work, and as a result, increased productivity". http://uninews.unimelb.edu.au/news/5750/ Also a short walk outside to stretch your legs and get some fresh air, and eat and drink regularly.
So to sum up, plan your day, make a to-do list, give priority status to tasks, single-task, create an uninterrupted workplace when needed, and take breaks to replenish your energy. Take control of your ability to be productive, and enjoy the sense of accomplishment that goes along with that.
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