We all have those days at the office when things are going slow and you’re feeling sluggish and unproductive. You feel as though you haven’t accomplished everything you wanted to and the work just keeps on piling up with no end in sight or no way out of the slump.

While for some this is just a passing phase, for others it’s a real daily challenge. If you’re wondering how to increase work efficiency and how to stay productive at work, this post is for you as we offer some examples of productivity in the workplace.

Table of content:

1. Create specific to-do lists

There are many benefits of creating to-do lists, one of these being that they help improve your memory by acting as an external memory aid. However, that’s not all there is to it.

To-do lists also help you prioritise tasks that are more important, and they also help you clarify your goals. Furthermore, they can be an encouraging and motivating factor at work. Creating a to-do list the day or night before can help you set clear goals and targets for the next day at work, helping you be more productive.

With such a list, you’ll have a clear vision of all the tasks that need to be accomplished. Sometimes, just having a vision and putting things down on paper can be a great encouraging factor to get you to achieve your tasks. However, with to-do lists, make sure they are specific and actionable.

For example, the task “sort out inbox” is quite broad and vague. Instead, you might say something like “reply to XYZ’s marketing email” or “send email to ABC about production”.

Making your goals for the day very specific also makes them actionable. And the best part is that once you’ve done the task you can cross it off your list, giving you an added level of satisfaction.

Small milestones like these build up and gain momentum over time, so creating to-do lists is one way of improving work productivity. 

2. Set timers

A timer can be an online clock that is used to measure units of time. When it comes to improving work efficiency, a timer can change the game around completely, creating a game-like feeling for getting tasks done and also ensuring they get done on time.

They provide a competitive element where you have to try to finish your task before the alarm rings. They are also great ways of keeping you accountable because by using them, you’ll immediately know if you’ve dedicated too much time to one task if you go over the time limit.

Time limits should not be set in stone, you can try to be more flexible.

For example, if you think that the task of replying to an important email will take you 15 minutes, and you exceed this time frame, you can extend the time limit by providing brackets of time instead.

This could mean that instead of allocating 15 minutes to replying to an email, you might place this task in a 15-20 minute time frame. This level of flexibility can help you manage your tasks better as they will help keep you focused

3. Answering emails

Many people use the method of a zero inbox to address their emails. This means dealing with each mail as it comes until your inbox is completely clear.

However, this methodology only works in some cases and is not applicable to those who receive an influx of emails in their inboxes every day.

To this end, it’s important to try and prioritise incoming emails. This can be done by briefly skimming the subject line and body of the email, checking if it contains any deadlines or actionable steps on your part and then leaving it for a dedicated time slot later when you will actually be able to address this email.

Prioritising important emails over others is a great time saving tool, and it helps you stay more organised and focused.

Once you’ve prioritised an email or a set of emails, add them to your to-do list and set a specific time slot for responding to them during the day or the next day (if the time for it allows).

Then, remember to set a timer as you’re drafting your response to keep you accountable and responsible when meeting these goals.

4. How to handle phone calls

Telephone calls can happen at any time of the business day and they can last a few seconds with a colleague who just wants to clarify something or a good couple of minutes, almost becoming as long as a meeting.

If it’s possible, you need to try and set a specific time for answering phone calls during the day, helping your colleagues understand when you are available for calls and when you are not.

Calls can be a great distraction as they tend to divert your focus from the task at hand, popping in something else in its place with a higher priority.

Telephone calls are one of the main issues when it comes to multitasking, but research has shown that multitasking isn’t as effective as focusing on a single task at hand.

Therefore, try to prioritise your phone calls and set a specific time of day for them as they can be great distractions, leading to lower productivity.

The same can be said for blocking all social media and websites which are distracting. Dedicate a certain part of your day for these activities, but make sure you don’t fall into what seems to be a never-ending time trap.

5. Maintaining your energy levels

The importance of physical movement at the office is crucial for your mental and physical well-being. Physical movement helps you maintain your energy levels.

This is especially the case after you’ve had your midday meal when individuals feel the most sluggish and tired. One way to counter this time of low energy is to take short, two-minute walks around the office.

Chat to a colleague. Get some water or a coffee. Just make sure that you balance the time you’re sitting on a chair and standing up and walking around.

While some people claim that working standing up helps them be more productive and physically active, this is not the case for most individuals and you need to find ways to physically move your body throughout the day in short bursts every couple of hours, to get your blood circulating and to regain your energy levels so that you don’t feel sluggish and to enable you to concentrate and focus on your work.

Conclusion

While this is not an exhaustive list of all the steps you can take to improve workplace productivity, it’s certainly a great starting point when trying to be more efficient at work.

From setting clear and actionable to-do lists to maintaining your energy levels at work, there are tips here to suit almost anyone who wants to be more productive at work and who needs to avoid distractions.

At the end of the day, if you don’t manage all the tasks you set for yourself, you also need to give yourself the necessary space to breathe as well as forgive yourself for not accomplishing all your tasks.

Taking care of yourself first and being kind to yourself when things don’t go according to plan is one way to reduce stress and continue to handle all the upcoming tasks by giving them your absolute best.