Despite spending an average of 8.8 hours at work every day, the average American is only really productive for about 3 hours. In context, this isn’t so surprising – it’s hard to focus for eight hours straight, and when your job includes a lot of busywork, like searching for that one document you need in the file room, what you actually accomplish may not be as much as you hoped for.
These easy workplace strategies can be implemented in minutes, and they won’t just help your productivity – they can make you and your workmates happier, too.
Yes, there’s evidence that a cluttered desk encourages more creativity, but you can have your cake and eat it, too. Keep items that inspire you to be creative, like personal desk decorations, and tidy up everything that’s just clutter. You’ll make it easier to find what you need when you need it, and you’ll still have everything at hand that inspires you.
Organize Your Office/Filing System
Searching for one paper in a tower of filing cabinets is an awful way to spend your day. If your company hasn’t already hopped on the document scanning trend, suggest it or another way to make files easier to sort through, especially if they’re used on a daily basis.
Multitasking? Just Say No
Our brains are great at switching quickly between different tasks, but contrary to how we’d like them to work, they can’t do two complex things at once. In fact, trying to do both at the same time can double the time you’d normally take to complete them. When you have a singular task, stick with it, and resist the urge to try and knock two things out at the same time. You’ll work better, and your brain will thank you for it.
Hide Your Phone
Yes, seriously. Put it in your desk drawer, stuff it in your purse, stash it wherever you feel is best, but get it off your desk. The average person checks their phone once every 12 minutes, and when this is stretched out over a workweek, it can add up to a lot of lost time. Put it away, check it at lunch, and marvel at the extra hour you find in your schedule.
Practice Better Communication
How many times have we wasted time trying to figure out what another department wanted us to do? If something’s unclear, take the few minutes necessary to make it absolutely transparent. If you have misgivings about an assignment, or if you don’t have the resources you need to make it happen, speak up.
Take Regular Breaks
Taking a lunch break isn’t a sign of laziness – it helps you maintain better mental health and can also improve how productive you are on a given day. Taking small breaks throughout the day can help, too, especially if you’re staring at a computer screen for most of it. Every twenty minutes, look away from your monitors, stand, and stretch for a bit. This gives your eyes a rest and can provide a quick pick-me-up before you continue your task.
Track Your Time
It may seem like a pain at first, but tracking your time is a great way to figure out exactly how much of your day goes into a certain task, which means you’ll be able to plan ahead better when that task reappears next week. For example, if it takes you two hours to put together this quarter’s marketing report, you’ll be able to schedule that in for next quarter without worrying if you’ll be able to finish everything else on your to-do list for that day.
Get Everything You Need Before You Begin
Yeah, sure, you’ll eventually need to dig up a file or two, but that can wait until you actually need them, right? Wrong. Gather everything you need for a project before you dig in. This will mean you’ll have to interrupt yourself less often, which means you’ll be able to concentrate better, which means that you’ll be done by lunch.
Tackle the Hard Things First
Very few people actively look forward to entering a ream of data into Excel by hand, but it’s got to get done. If there’s a task on your schedule that you’re absolutely dreading, roll up your sleeves and dive into that one first. Getting it out of the way will help the rest of the day seem light and pleasant by comparison (and you’ll be able to stop dreading doing it).
Make it Easier to Collaborate
Whether that’s using an in-company chatroom like Slack or setting up documents that everyone can edit at the same time, making it easy to get everyone on the same page will save lots of time and avoid unnecessary headaches.
Important Doesn’t Always Equal Urgent
Making sure the office payroll is finished by the end of the week is an important task, to be sure. Making sure your meeting notes are ready for the shareholders’ presentation in a half-hour is restricted by time, and should fall into the “urgent” category. Learn to differentiate tasks based on their levels of importance, and you’ll avoid working yourself into a corner.
Have a Celebration
It’s easy to brush off work parties and birthday celebrations as something frivolous, but there’s data to back this one up. Companies that actively prioritize employee happiness and job satisfaction see a productivity increase of up to 37%. Take time to celebrate company anniversaries, birthdays, and achievements. It’s time well-spent, and it will make the workplace a more pleasant place to be.
Automate What You Can
It’s the 21st century. Do you know where your calendar is? If it’s stuck in the 1980s, with you pencilling meetings in as you go and hoping you remember in time to send out reminder emails, it’s way past time to adopt online, automatically-syncing calendars. Booking the boardroom, ordering refills of office supplies, and paying bills can all be automated processes, which will free up time for you and the rest of the office. You can even outsource your document storage – image scanning will allow you to access your items digitally, and if you need the actual hard copy, the management company likely offers next or same-day delivery.
Keep Meetings Short
Forbes reported that professional workers can attend over 60 meetings every month (that’s roughly 3 every day, assuming a normal 5-day workweek). How much of that time is actually productive, and how much is empty air filled with corporate jargon? Keep your meetings as short as possible, and follow a strict, data-based agenda. This will allow you to focus on the important decisions to be made rather than trying to burn time on painfully drawn-out presentations.
Leave Your Work at Work
When you take pride in what you do, it can be hard to switch off at the end of the day. 24% of Americans report doing some or all of their work at home, out of the office. However, it’s important that when you leave for the day, you leave your work behind, too. Coming back in the next day rested and refreshed enables you to take better care of your own mental health and your relationships with those close to you. Close the computer, turn off email notifications, and enjoy the rest of your day.
For more information on how document imaging can help improve your workday, give us a call at 1-800-225-1080 or contact our office online. Want to cut back on the time you spend filing? We also provide document management and storage services.