5 Steps That Improve Productivity At Work
Do you find yourself being stuck at your workstation staring into your laptop all day, and yet, get no work done? You’re not alone.
Do you find yourself being stuck at your workstation staring into your laptop all day, and yet, get no work done? You’re not alone. On average, a person stays productive for only 2.5 hours during a workday.
- Eliminate all distractions
On average, checking social media, reading news websites, and chit-chatting among colleagues alone take up to 2.5 hours out of your workday. Just imagine you finished your work at 4 PM instead of 6:30 PM, before anyone else!
So, to save those two and a half hours you need to do two things:-
Digital Detox : Take a 2-day detox from all things on the internet. Use a screen time app on your phone and laptop that prevents you from even opening these distracting apps and websites. Do not cheat! This saves the time spent on social media and news/online forums. You will not believe how much lighter you will feel by just doing this detox.
Get a pair of headphones : Socializing is an essential part of work culture, but take care that you do not spend too much time on it. When you must focus on the task at hand, just wear those headphones and stop looking around your office. 😄 Not only does wearing headphones blocks out the noise at your workplace, but it also gives you an excuse of being on a call whenever someone distracts you from your task. Now don’t be rude, just ask your ‘distractor’ to come back later, or ask how you can help them if it is urgent. This keeps the conversation short and to the point, while also not distracting you too much. It helps even more if the headphones are active-noise-cancelling though this is not mandatory.
- Start Recording All Tasks & The Time You Spend On Them
Start taking notes on what you do and how long you do it. Note down everything, even coffee breaks! Do this for a week at least. Best if you do this for 2 weeks, daily. It’s better to use Google Sheets. After 2 weeks, brew yourself a cup of coffee and review this data. Create a table (in a new sheet) containing only the unique items from the list you have. Add checkbox columns, one for each of the following headings:-
Tasks that did not contribute to your work
Tasks that could have been avoided
Important tasks that can be done by someone else as well
I feel it’s a good practice to break down the work-related activities in such a way that every activity takes less than 30 minutes continuously. This criterion will force you to break down long activities which make these logs more specific, and this will become precious data when you try to optimize your time later on. Pro Tip: It helps to wear a watch and keep a small table clock on your desk. And don’t worry about your colleagues’ puzzled reactions, just shrug it off.
- Automate Repeatable Tasks
By now you have a list of tasks that you have marked as repeatable. But all repeatable tasks cannot or should not be automated. A task having the following features may be automated:-
An automation solution for this task can be built. Duh!
It does not require your complete focus.
It takes more than 3 hours per week in total. Otherwise, there is not much to gain by automating this task.
It will be part of your job for the next 2–3 months at least. Building an automation solution takes time. No point if it will not be used after a few weeks, except when a lot of time can be saved in the short run.
The time you expect to spend building this automation should result in a net gain in time savings within the first month. Let’s say you have a task that takes 4 hours every week, building the automation will take 4 hours, and after automation, you will need to spend only 1 hour every week. Then, on the first week, you would spend 5 hours on it (4 hours for building the automation and 1 hour for doing the automated task), resulting in a net loss of 1 hour. But in the next 3 weeks, you would spend only 1 hour per week. That means in the course of a month, you went from (4x4) i.e. 16 hours to (5+1+1+1) i.e. 8 hours. Thus, a net gain in the first month! Hurray! 🥳
- Delegate Tasks
At this point, find the tasks that you have marked as ‘important but can be done by someone else’ from the list you created in step 2. Ideally, the tasks in this subset should only be:-
Tasks that cannot be eliminated, and
Tasks that cannot or should not be automated, and
Tasks that need not be done by you specifically, and
Tasks that you can offload to somebody.
Eliminate before you Automate. Automate before you Delegate.
- Document and Share Your Journey
While you are working on this process, please make sure to document your actions and results at the end of your day. This helps you keep track of your progress and allows you to build a case for you to your superiors when the time comes to ask for a raise or promotion.
Not only that, but it also motivates other people when you share your journey on social media platforms (probably the only bit of social media that I advocate).
I am a startup founder, data analyst, ERP consultant, and Mobile App Developer from India. Soon to be starting a new chapter in Canada. Stay tuned for updates on the same.