In the workplace, it's all about getting it done faster and with less help. Employers, always looking to do more with less, expect workers to be efficient and effective. Sometimes, this means one person is assigned work that two people might have handled in the past.
How can you overcome these obstacles and walk out of the office without feeling like a chicken without a head? Follow these steps:
1. Get organized. You wouldn't travel to a new place without a map, a GPS or directions. Don't expect to be productive without a list of things to do and a workspace that is conducive to getting it done. Arrange your workspace so that you have everything that you need handy. Don't forget to straighten up your computer's desktop so it's easy to find files. You'll save yourself valuable time and a lot of aggravation when you plan ahead so that you can find things you'll need.
2. Be realistic. There's nothing worse than starting the day full of optimism and with a to-do list a mile long only to realize that you only had time to check off one or two items. Consider your day and the constraints on your time when you put together your list. You'll be more productive when you set out to complete a reasonable amount of tasks.
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3. Don't multitask. Workplaces seem to encourage multi-tasking; don't we all seem to do more than one thing at all times? While you may think it makes sense to check email throughout the day while you're in the midst of other projects, for example, all you're doing is setting yourself up to fall down a potentially never-ending hole of things that will distract you from your important priorities. Make times during the day for all of your major activities, including returning phone calls and emails. You'll likely notice that you can get more done by the end of the day.
4. Figure out your most productive times. What are the best times for you to get your work done? Do you get your best work done first thing in the morning, or are you a true night owl? When possible, try to schedule your most challenging tasks for when you'll be at your best. In addition, consider the ebbs and flows of your workplace. If you know you'll be interrupted constantly in the mornings, you'll be more productive if you plan to complete short tasks during those times and save your projects that require more focus for quieter periods.
5. Don't waste time on the computer. Do you stare unproductively at your computer screen for extended periods, even if you know you aren't getting your work done? This is a big waste of time. You'll be more productive if you take a break. Take a walk, read something or clear your head and get back to the computer once you get re-inspired.
6. Just say no to meetings. You want to be a team player and volunteer for committees and to help with events at work, but be selective. Try to identify ways to help out that don't involve a lot of in-person meetings, which tend to be big time sucks. If you are in charge of a program or activity, limit the number of scheduled meetings and try to get things done via email or brief phone calls.
7. Use social media as a break. We all know how easy it is to get distracted when checking social media. One minute, you're checking out a friend's photo, an hour later, you're still posting comments and making updates. Unless you're incorporating social media as part of a professional strategy at work, it's probably best to save yourself a lot of time by only viewing social networking sites when you have free time outside of work. Also, your boss may notice if you are always updating your status during the work day, so it's best to avoid even scheduling posts during those times.
8. Identify ways to keep up with the news you need to know. While mindless social media use doesn't improve your productivity, when you use Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn and Facebook to help you stay abreast of the news you need to know, it can help you be more productive and in-the-know at work. Make a point to identify several great online resources who share details that help you get your work done and follow them closely. Select a time or two each day to review their updates and you'll be well prepared for your productive day at work.
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