It’s no secret that employee productivity has been on a gradual decline in recent years. Did you know that at present time, if you were to disconnect from what you are doing (i.e. get interrupted in some way), it can take up 23 minutes to get back on track. Imagine if you had people coming up to you 4 – 5 times a day, that amounts to almost two hours of lost productivity. Not only does this mean that it is likely you will not reach your targets, but it could also put you on the chopping block as your results will not be great. To avoid this, here are 10 steps for you to increase your productivity –

1. Plan based on priorities – both at work and outside it.
They say that goal setting is the key to success and we agree. However, one important element that needs to be combined with goal setting is constant activity that will bring you towards achieving these goals. Nothing comes easy but the whole process can be made a lot easier if you start planning based on your priorities. Should you be saving up for the new house? Or should you reschedule your trip around that important board meeting? How you arrange your goals and targets will determine how successful you will be in making them a reality. Long term priorities can be shortened into quarterly goals or targets so that they don’t seem so unachievable in the extended time it will take for you to get to where you want to be. On the other hand, you can plan your day week or month based on what needs to be done at work or home. Set it up so that you always start the day the smaller tasks that need to get done so that you feel a sense of achievement and thus are more motivated to get through the bigger tasks. This will kelp you balance your priorities at work and home, allowing you to work towards a healthy work-life balance.

2. Customise your plan
To achieve and then continue to manage your work-life balance, an easy to follow and implement plan is necessary. Planning can come in various forms. You can do it digitally (there are shareable calendars for ease of communication) or on a physical calendar or book. Studies show that writing things down helps with remembering the details but it’s a lot more convenient these days to have your tasks, meetings and important notes all in one place, easily accessible by phone. You can go as far a to colour code your plans by type (i.e. red for urgent tasks, purple for home chores, blue for daily work tasks, green for finished tasks and so on) or by theme. Another, more detailed way of planning is to jot down every.single.task that you need done – no matter how minute. While this may seem like a bigger distraction, it will be a good way to save time and stop yourself from skipping steps on your priority list. These plans can then be daily, weekly or monthly. Daily calendars will help you get what you need done today, done. Weekly calendars will give you the flexibility to move some tasks or appointments around.

3. Plan for interruptions
It’s important to leave room for surprises. It could be big things that will affect a full day at work such as the long lost return of a close relative, a sudden meeting with a prospect from way back when, or even a colleague leaving. On the other hand, it could be small interruptions like bathroom breaks, colleagues asking for help, headaches, calls from family members, unexpected drop-ins by clients’, the air-conditioning not working, an internet disruption and the list goes on. While some interruptions can be dealt with swiftly without much of a break in your work, some may take more of your time, causing you to lose momentum and your train of thought. If an unavoidable interruption happens, don’t forget to put a pin in your thought process. This saying means to make a mental note (or an actual note if you want) of where you were in your thought process, where you stopped and a reminder of where you were trying to get to. This means that you will need some time set aside in your schedule to take these notes and review them, an additional step in your work process but necessary for you to be able to jump straight back into your work.

4.Understand your energy spikes
Even with the planning skills of a master, it is not possible to do everything you need to do in one go. This is because we are prone to random spikes and dips in energy. Some people are more productive in the morning (what kind of superpower is this?) while some are more productive after lunch (how are they not sleepy after a meal?). Whatever the case may be, it is normal for your energy to fluctuate at different times of the day. By understanding when you are more productive, you will be able to get things done better. For example, if you are someone who works well in the afternoon, leave the more creative stuff (designing, writing, creating proposals and sales pitches) for then and fill your mornings with the tasks that do not require so much thinking.

5. Reduce the time spent in meetings
Everyone hates meetings for good reason – they take up so much time! Not to mention the fact that they cost money. Doodle’s State of Meetings report released in 2019 showed that the costs of poorly planned meetings can reach $399 billion in the U.S. and $58 billion in the U.K. That is an absurd amount of money that can be saved simply by shaving off meetings. While it may seem that the eradication of meetings can only happen in an ideal world, it is possible to make them that much more bearable and productive by reducing the time spent in a meeting. This can be done through clear agenda setting, by cutting down the number of people present at the meeting and even by using more visual stimuli like pictures and videos.

6. Simplify your data
There are hundreds of data organisation systems, applications and software – how do you choose the right one? Not only does it have to suit your needs (i.e. is tailored to your industry or field), it has to cater to the size or geographical diversity of your team. And with the internet, data is everywhere; it’s in everything we do. It is important to reduce the amount of time wasted in trying to understand, compute and react to all that data. In a survey by harmon.ie, 67% of survey respondents believed that it would be easier to focus on work if important information from all their apps appeared in a single window. Talk amongst your colleagues and higher-ups for ways to simplify data if your job has a lot of it (i.e. using CRM for sales). In your personal space, design a simple way for you to store all of your own personal data should you need to pull it up.

7. Take advantage of your time in traffic
One of the big reasons that advocates of “working from home/wherever you are” support the idea is the fact that commuting takes so much time. Especially during rush hour, one could spend hours crawling to and from work. Back in 2017, it was recorded that Malaysians’ spend an average of 53 minutes stuck in traffic in a day and – get this – an additional 25 minutes in search of parking. That amounts to over an hour of productivity lost (assuming traffic isn’t that bad, there haven’t been any accidents and you’re not trying to find parking in SS15). To maximise your time in traffic, try to get some work done. Make important calls, take voice notes of ideas or simply listen to podcasts and audiobooks. It is an opportune moment to catch up on different tasks without taking your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road. In doing so, you are more likely to catch up on your calls, appointments and missed opportunities – who knows, you might close a deal in the middle of a complete standstill.

8. Take regular breaks
As odd as this sounds, you need the break. While we don’t condone half an hour breaks every half an hour (there’s no 50:50 option here, sorry), there are tonnes of statistics that support taking breaks at work. If you’re worried you will look complacent or as if you were slacking off (“curi tulang” here), show your boss these stats! You can even try “microbreaks”. These can be as short as 30 seconds and yet, have proven to boost productivity by 13%. Other simple practices such as 15-second breaks (to stretch or breathe) every 10 minutes can reduce your fatigue by as much as 50%. Imagine how much more you can get done with that added boost of energy, rather than dragging yourself through the hours.

9. Speaking of energy, why not start taking the stairs
Okay, taking the stairs may be overkill if you’re on the 28th floor of your building. If you’re thinking that going to the gym after a long and gruelling day at work may be the last thing you want, you don’t have to. There are tonnes of ways to get that little bit of exercise in your busy schedule. There is merit in parking a little bit further than you usually would or choosing to jog the few 100 meters to the store rather than taking your car. With technology like Fitbits or the step tracker on your phone, you can set a daily step target that is easily reached by walking around the office as you think or call your clients. Just 10 minutes of activity a day will decrease your chances of fatigue, arthritis, heart disease, overstressing and depression.

10. If you’re happy and you know it, you’re more productive.
If this hasn’t occurred to you before, it’s time to think about your happiness. It can be both happiness outside work and at work. If you feel as if you haven’t been very productive, ask yourself if you’ve been feeling less happy than when you were at your most productive state. Studies have shown that happier employees achieve sales as high as 13% more than their less elated counterparts. While it is growing increasingly difficult to be positive every day with the internet being both a positive and negative force, it is not impossible. By going through steps 1 to 9, you will be able to create a rhythm that works for you, that will help you boost your productivity, and will ultimately bring you better work-life balance.

For help with increasing productivity, mindset training, strategic planning and productivity, contact us and schedule your free consultation today!

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