Tips To Increase Productivity At Work
Updated: Mar 23
In March 2021, Action On The Side ran a virtual Work Experience for Level 3 Media students. This article has been written as part of that, by Ross E.
Dear Readers of the article,
I watched three videos and made notes on those videos. There were three sections to each video, and now I’m going to put what I learnt into action!
Managing Your Time Effectively: What Distractions Do We Have?
To improve time management, you’ve got to set goals for what you want to achieve in that time period and focus on the most important tasks.
The video I watched called the things that distract us from our work as “time thieves”, which is a rather nice and nifty little saying, and then gave me some help with how to improve my time management.
The first thing, before anything, is to know what distractions we have. It could be answering phone calls, doing emails, or having to help someone who needs the help, and the biggest one for a lot of people, overthinking tasks.
It could be that you are working in an office, and it’s too noisy, or you're getting too distracted by people coming in and asking for help. It could also be that parts of your day are making you less productive, such as lack of sleep and travelling to and from work or meetings.
However, sometimes for a lot of people, it’s procrastination, as working isn’t always the easiest.
Managing Your Time Effectively: What Can We Do?
There are many ways we can start to manage our time effectively.
We can start with making a note of how long it takes us to complete individual tasks. Recording how long you spend on your daily tasks will allow you to identify factors or behaviours that are stealing your time, and how you can work on it.
Try to create a daily timesheet or log, which can be done using Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel, or in a notepad on paper. What you want to do here is write down everything, be totally honest with yourself. It’s not a problem, we are all here to get better, so write down everything that happens. Every task, interruption, anything that happens in your daily work time. Ideally, you should try to collect this information for a week or so.
The next step is to look at your disruptions, and see how you can minimise them. You could use an online productivity tool such as Asana, Basecamp or Google Keep, can you help you create digital to-do lists, or you can make one using your notepad. Some of these will allow you to send tasks to others, or send you a friendly reminder when deadlines are approaching.
Remember to be realistic. Trying to do too much can result in a drop in productivity, and can stress you out.
Start with a prioritised To-Do list - either on paper or on the online tools we’ve mentioned. Ticking things off of the To-Do list is great motivation and will help you build momentum with getting things done.
Google’s Top 5 Tips You Can Integrate Into Your Routine
Stay focused at meetings - Avoid all unnecessary meetings and focus (both physically and mentally) on the ones you need
Create daily To-Do lists - Get into the habit of creating prioritised To-Do lists every day.
Take breaks - Taking 5-10 minute breaks can really boost your concentration, and it helps if you move around and stretch.
Eliminate distractions - Let people know you don’t want to be disturbed, as even the slightest distraction may cause you to lose focus.
Get a good night’s sleep - Lack of sleep can affect the way you work, so always try to get enough hours!
Prioritising Tasks - How Can It Help?
When you have a To-Do list as long as your arm, work can feel a little overwhelming and scary. For this part of the article, we are going to be looking at how Prioritising and Delegating can help us.
Prioritising tasks allows you to focus on the most important tasks, creating a sense of purpose and clarity, by breaking it down into chunks that are easier to complete. It can help you discover the areas you need to work on, giving you the opportunity to delegate tasks.
But before we look into delegation, I’d like to show you something called the Eisenhower Matrix.
The Eisenhower Matrix is a useful tool for discovering how to complete your work. Let’s say you have 4 tasks (Which I’m going to list now)
A very important report that needs to be done in a few hours
An important report that can be done later
A smaller report that someone else can do
Going out to get office decorations
So, the tasks you need to complete in a day. The first one, the very important report, would go in the Urgent and Important section, as it needs to be done by today.
The second one, the important report that can be done later, it is not Urgent but it is Important, so you can write down a time to focus on it later.
The third one, the smaller report, you can get someone else in your team to do it for you, if you're too busy to do the work. It is Urgent but Not Important. This is known as delegation.
The fourth one, the office decorations, doesn’t really serve a purpose and can be deleted from your list of tasks.
Try limiting yourself to 10 tasks per quadrant in the matrix.
Delegating Tasks - How Can It Help?
Delegation can be extremely useful if you aren’t working on your own, providing you delegate well.
Some of the deadlines won’t be doable on your own, and you’ll need help from your team to help you. This is not a cheat sheet however, you still need to do your own work.
The key to remember when delegating tasks is to play to people’s strengths. Think about your team, who can do the work and who would be best for what work.
Make sure to explain to your team clearly what’s required - set clear progress tasks and make sure to check in and help them if you need.
When it comes to your workload, try and use the Eisenhower matrix to organize your work, and make sure to tick off and reward yourself when you complete the tasks!
Working Collaboratively in the Cloud - What Is It?
With online businesses becoming more global, connecting with people in different time zones or locations is needed. Let me introduce the Cloud. The Cloud is a data storing service that will store your data somewhere else for you, and can also be used to share this data with other people using the Internet. If you use software such as Google Documents, cloud software allows you to collaborate with people over the Internet as the Google Documents are normally saved to a Cloud.
Cloud-based collaboration platforms such as G-Suite and Office 365 allow you to share, edit and work with others simultaneously. Collaborating on text documents, spreadsheets and presentations in the cloud allows you to add content and work together in real-time, even with people thousands of miles away from you.
For example, some companies may use this as they may have employees all around the globe, and can rarely get face-to-face meetings.
Without the cloud, each member would have to work on one document, and then pass it along to the next person when done, causing severe delays.
You should make sure your Wi-Fi connection is stable while working, as it could cause problems with trying to work online with people, and you may lose work if you haven’t set up offline working.
Offline working is extremely helpful if you need to finish some work on the train and you don’t have any Wi-Fi, as you can edit your work even if it’s not online. However, it isn’t always set up by default, so I would make sure to check and enable it if so.
Thank you to everyone for reading this article! I hope it was helpful and informative!