A large portion of the workforce spends at least eight hours a day in an office. Hold on tight, because research has shown that we are probably only really productive for around three hours a day. And that means a lot of time is wasted behind the desk!
The office is full of distractions and the temptation to read news articles, check social media and share last weekend’s experiences with colleagues is lurking. The number of hours in the day is limited, so naturally, you want employees to be as efficient as possible during the hours they spend in the office. The ten simple tips below will help you on your way to a more productive team.
1. DON’T SPEND TOO MUCH TIME ON TASKS
Limit the time employees spend on various tasks. People generally tend to lose interest quickly if they spend a lot of time on something. So start the day by determining the maximum amount of time you want to spend on the task and stick to it.
2. TAKE REGULAR BREAKS
If you sit at your desk for 8 or more hours a day, without moving much, you have less energy and you are less productive in the workplace. Scheduling regular breaks have a positive effect on concentration. Taking a few short breaks during long tasks helps to stay productive and alert.
3. MAKE TO-DO LISTS
Make a small, short to-do list, instead of a long list of projects and tasks that need to be done. How you go about that list is mostly personal preference. Some people like to start the day with the easiest tasks and then pick up the more difficult tasks. A to-do list that syncs with an app on your phone helps you keep an eye on your most important tasks when you’re out and about. One of the best things about making a to-do list is that you can check off tasks when they’re done. This gives a feeling of satisfaction and visualizes the progress you are making.
4. DON’T GO TO UNNECESSARY MEETINGS
Time is valuable and in many companies, meetings are one of the most time-consuming activities. It can be tempting to please every colleague you ask for a meeting. But this comes at the cost of the time you can spend on important projects. Knowing which meetings you can safely skip is an important skill. For example, you can safely skip a meeting where you are only ‘needed’ for one agenda item and instead just join in for that specific item or answer any questions via e-mail.
5. STOP MULTITASKING
With a long to-do list, it’s tempting to start multitasking. Many people think that the ability to multitask is essential to being effective at work, but this is not true. Trying to do several tasks at the same time actually has a negative effect on productivity. Therefore, try to complete one task before starting another.
6. CHECK YOUR E-MAIL AT FIXED TIMES
The mailbox is a huge distraction for many people. We regularly check whether we already have mail and are therefore immediately out of our concentration. It is better to check your mail at a number of fixed times during the day. This prevents you from stopping what you are doing the moment you see an email arrive. Many mail programs have the option to pause incoming mail. This is a handy function if you notice that you keep checking your mailbox.
7. KEEP INTERRUPTIONS TO A MINIMUM
Conversations with colleagues, telephone calls, and all kinds of other distractions are part of everyday life for many people. But sometimes it’s important to keep all those distracting things to a minimum. For example, by closing the door or putting your phone on silent. Think about what distracts you the most and think about ways you can better deal with those distractions.
8. GO FOR ERGONOMICS
No scientific studies are needed to prove that if your back hurts because your chair is not comfortable and supportive, your productivity is lower. At such times, employees are more focused on the aches and pains they feel than on their work. That is why it is important to take care of an ergonomic office chair.
9. FOLLOW THE ‘TWO-MINUTE RULE
The ‘two-minute rule’ is simple, but effective: if there’s a task you can complete in two minutes or less, do it right away. According to entrepreneur Steve Olenski, it is faster and more efficient to do a task immediately, instead of putting it off.
10. PROVIDE GOOD OFFICE FURNITURE
The office furniture that the office is furnished with influences the effectiveness of your employees. If the work environment has become dull and gray over the years, it can have a negative effect on the employees. A fresh, up-to-date working environment has a positive effect on productivity.