Modern workers have to deal with different work challenges each day. From managing and responding to ongoing communications to dealing with time-sensitive tasks, there’s a lot to get through each day.
Even with the best time management system, you may still miss out on many things and struggle to be productive. That’s why we’ve put these 20 tips together to help you boost your performance whether you’re working from home or an office.
What to DO
Here are things you should do to boost your productivity.
- Time Tracking
A time tracker will help you log your billable hours and automatically create your timesheet. If you’re a freelancer, you can use a time tracking tool to create invoices for clients using your tracked working hours.
But there’s more to time trackers. Since they track your work schedule, you can use data from the program to optimize your working hours. You can also use the tool’s data to keep you focused on meeting your goals.
- Find Your Productive Hours
Your productive hours, or golden hours, are periods during your work day when you’re more energized and focused to work.
According to a study published by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, peak performance times start at 1:30 PM.
But another online poll by Moneypenny reported that 10:54 AM on Mondays is the most productive time of day. The study, however, admitted to differences according to industries.
That said, everyone has unique productive hours. You can find yours by tracking your time and looking at periods during the day or night when you do more work.
To use those productive hours, reserve them for tasks that require focus and critical thinking. This way, you’re able to efficiently handle them without wasting time.
- Prioritize Your Tasks
Prioritizing your tasks allows you to achieve more. Some assignments are more important and pressing than others. With a good prioritization system, you can identify tasks that will make your day successful.
This way, you’re focused on things that matter and can reschedule or delegate non-critical tasks.
- Set Realistics Goals and Deadlines
Setting realistic goals means you won’t be taking on more tasks than you can handle. When you prioritize your tasks effectively, you’re able to identify and focus on only tasks that matter.
That said, you may have more jobs to handle at any given period. You don’t have to set a record of finishing earlier than a particular deadline. There’s nothing wrong with talking to your client or supervisor and letting them know what is achievable.
While speed is important, work quality should be prioritized. You’ll execute most tasks efficiently by taking your time, not rushing them.
- Take Breaks
Breaks allow you to recharge and refresh. Working for long hours without slowing down could cause you to break down. So, add 15-minute breaks to your daily work schedule and make sure you respect them.
Studies have shown that exercise increases energy and boosts mood. These effects go on to positively affect productivity. When you’re happy and energized, you’ll perform better.
So, make time to work out and exercise. You could do early-morning runs or take bi-weekly yoga classes.
Whatever you do, make sure to get regular physical action to boost your mood and energy levels.
- Break Down Large Tasks into Smaller Assignments
You may get mentally drained and discouraged just by looking at the sheer size of some tasks. The good thing is that there’s a simple remedy to this situation.
By breaking down these tasks into smaller manageable parts, you can tackle them head-on. This method allows you to deal with such projects like any other work.
For example, if a task involves writing a 5000-word article, you can break the job into:
- Creating a draft
- Breaking up the article into segments
- Treating each segment as a sub-article that should be researched and handled separately.
- Putting everything together and proofreading the article.
- Use the Eat the Frog method
The Eat the Frog Method involves handling your biggest and most challenging task before moving on to others. This way, you’ll be dealing with less challenging work the rest of the day.
- Practice Time Mapping
Time mapping involves using a visual representation of your schedule to go through your activities. It helps you know the next activity to move to once you complete a specific task.
The good thing about time mapping is that it helps you avoid procrastination and Parkinson’s principle. According to Parkinson’s principle, work expands to cover the time allotted to it.
That means, you’ll likely spend more time than you should doing a task if you’re fixated on keeping to your normal schedule. However, with a time map, you’re encouraged to move from task to task even if there’s time left on the clock.
You can use your digital calendar to create the time map and use colors to categorize tasks according to type, urgency, and importance.
- Use a Project Management Tool
Project management tools allow you to organize and work through your tasks with ease. You can use them to create objectives and milestones, assign tasks, monitor project progress, and even streamline your team’s workflow. Some solutions allow you to track expenses and monitor project costs.
What to Avoid
Here are things you should not do if you want to boost productivity.
- Time Wasting Activities
Some work activities like handling emails and participating in unproductive meetings can reduce productivity. That’s because they take up the time you should use for more important tasks.
Identifying and avoiding these activities will help you boost your effectiveness and output. You can use your project management tool and time tracker to identify activities you should deal with after work.
You can also replace meetings with reports and regular announcements where necessary.
Multitasking causes multiple interruptions in quick successions, which can lead to costly mistakes and wasted time. So, make sure you always focus on one thing at a time and only move on to the next task when the previous one is completed.
The effects of overwork are devastating. There are mental and physical health implications attributed to working for long hours, apart from the known productivity downsides. So, you can use time tracking to determine when you’ve worked over your defined work hours for each day.
Also, make sure you take adequate breaks in between your working hours.
Overcoming procrastination is one way to significantly boost productivity. Reschedule whatever may want to tempt you to push any critical task to another time period. Avoiding distractions and killing the urge to multitask can also help you prevent procrastination.
Tips for Remote Workers
If you’re a remote worker, you have an extra set of challenges when it comes to boosting your productivity.
As it turns out, telecommuting further erases the work-life boundary. As a result, you may not be able to truly get off work. Also, activities from your personal life may seep into your work schedule and keep you distracted.
So, while studies have shown that remote work may boost performance, you also have to deal with domestic distractions and other issues that may hurt your output.
Let’s show you additional tips that you can combine with the earlier ones to boost productivity while working from home.
- Create a Home Office
A dedicated domestic office allows you to get in the work mood and focus on your tasks. This way, you’re able to block out all the distractions that come from telecommuting.
Make sure you choose a comfortable space with great lighting. It should be away from places like your living room where distractions are the highest.
You should also fit your home office with all the supplies and equipment that you’ll need. That way, you won’t have the need to leave your workspace in the middle of work.
- Stay Organized
It’s not enough to create a home office. Your workspace – and home – must be organized. A cluttered and scattered work area can mess with your mind and cause all kinds of distractions. You don’t want to be wondering where you kept a file in the middle of an important meeting.
So, develop a system for arranging files and optimizing your office space.
Working from home tends to make you feel isolated, causing you to work alone and hurting your team’s collaborative efforts. This reduced collaboration could lead to costly mistakes since workers fail to reach out to colleagues to clarify simple issues.
That detachment from your team can also reduce morale and motivation to work. So, ensure you have a stable communication system with the rest of the team.
If you’re a manager, encourage collaboration by organizing regular meetings and team-building activities.
You should also leverage remote communication tools like Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams to ensure you’re always in touch with the rest of the team.
- Define Your Work Hours
Defining your work hours allows you to structure your day and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
If you recently transitioned from an in-office environment, you can go for your regular working hours. This way, you’re using a schedule you’ve been used to.
You could also use a work structure that suits your personal and work life. Determine when you’re more focused on work and have less domestic engagements.
- Avoid Domestic Distractions
Dealing with domestic distractions is among the biggest challenges of working from home. Sometimes, it may seem impossible to avoid or eliminate them. That said, you can make arrangements to deal with these interruptions.
While using a dedicated office can help, you still have to anticipate other things that require your attention. For example, you could get someone else to pick up a delivery or get the courier to drop it off rather than ring your bell.
- Remember to “Turn off” Your Work Mode
Keeping your mind glued to work around the clock reduces your productivity. You must learn to keep work away during your personal time.
That’s why it’s important to keep a strict work schedule and stick to it. You should also take your dedicated home office seriously. What’s more, you can use separate work and personal devices.
Using auto-replies when you’re out of the office also helps. This way, whenever clients and colleagues send an email, they will receive an automatic reply saying you’re off work, notifying them when you’ll be available.
Keep practicing these tips and finding ways to boost your productivity whether you work out of an office or from your home.