Efficiency is something we all strive for in the workplace, but with so many competing tasks and office distractions sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. Should you finish your current project or help your co-worker launch a new campaign? Should you take a ten minute coffee break or power through to the next item on your to-do list?
When it seems like your only options are to drink another cup of coffee and keep going all night or leave a project unfinished, try out some of these tips that will increase your productivity without the added hours.
Organize your workspace
This may seem like a stall tactic, but trust us: a clean desk increases productivity. Schedule an hour at the end of a workday (we suggest a Friday) to eliminate the clutter and paper stacks that have been accumulating for who knows how long. Sort the mess into drawers, desktop organizers, and yes, the trashcan.
Struggling to decide what to remove from your workspace? Use the one-month rule. If it has been more than 30 days since you last used the item in question, it doesn’t belong on your desk!
Prioritize your to-do list
Instead of making one big to-do list, make two: a have-to and a could-do. If you find yourself putting every task on the have-to list, compare each item to another one on the list to determine what is actually top priority.
Pretend you can only complete one of the tasks in question. Should you call a company partner back or come up with a new and improved marketing logo? The winner of this face-off goes on to compete against another task on your list. After going through each bullet on your to-do list, you will have a list ranked by importance.
Think in the morning, do in the afternoon
Most people are more focused and productive during the morning. As soon as you sit down at your desk, get started on the most thought-provoking tasks you have to do that day (think numbers, analysis, and creative writing). Another task to finish early in the day? That thing you’re dreading. Don’t waste mental energy worrying throughout the day.
After lunch, you may think all you want to do is take a little catnap. However, this time is actually perfect for social interaction. Schedule meetings with co-workers and brainstorm ideas in the afternoon. Working with other people will also help your day go by faster!
Stop checking your email
Instead of being alerted every time you receive a new email, thus interrupting the task you are trying to complete, only check your email once an hour. We promise the world will not end if you are not completely accessible 24/7. This tip goes for social media outlets too! Use Facebook as a regulated work break, not a website you visit every five minutes.
When you do finally check your inbox, don’t just read the emails. Take an action with each one, whether it’s replying, deleting, or moving it to the appropriate folder.
Take mini breaks
Studies have shown that brief mental breaks actually help you focus and increase productivity. Work for 30-45 minutes and then take a 5-10 minute break. Walk around the office to get your blood flowing. Eat a healthy snack to keep your brain fed. Chat with an office mate to regain your sanity. Then, you’ll be ready to take a fresh, new look at your work and come up with some creative ideas.
With these productivity tips you can get everything done and still be home in time for dinner. What do you do to increase efficiency throughout the day?
About the Author: Jordan Graves is a Marketing Manager for Shoeboxed.com, the fastest way to turn a pile of paper receipts into digital data for effortless expense reporting and bookkeeping.