Improving Your Productivity

John Krautzel
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For professionals with a constantly growing workload, it can be a challenge to stay on top of key projects and tasks. By finding ways to improve productivity, you can save time and end each day feeling accomplished and confident.

Clean Your Email Inbox

An overflowing email inbox might seem innocuous, but it can have negative effects on your workday. Important messages can get lost in a sea of spam, and a high concentration of messages forces you to waste time hunting for the item you need. Reduce the hassle and improve productivity by scheduling frequent inbox cleanups. Each day, take five to 10 minutes to delete unnecessary messages, archive emails that no longer need attention and flag emails that require action. If you have a slow day, go through and sort items into folders until your inbox is completely empty. With regular maintenance, your email can be a source of convenience rather than stress.

Try the Pomodoro Technique

If you have trouble focusing for long periods of time, the Pomodoro Technique can help you improve productivity. The process is simple: set a timer for 25 minutes, and focus on a single task until time is up. Then, leave your desk for a five-minute break. Repeat this pattern until you've completed four 25-minute blocks, and then take a 20-minute break. This pattern works by harnessing your ability to focus without overtaxing it. By focusing on a single project at a time, you can avoid the distractions of multi-tasking.

Know Yourself

Individuals have different patterns and preferences that affect office performance. Learning to work with your own rhythms — instead of fighting against them — can improve productivity dramatically. For a week, take notes each hour about how you feel and what you're working on. At the end of the week, look for trends. If you notice that you struggle to focus in the afternoon, try working on intense tasks first thing in the morning. If your notes indicate that creative thought is difficult when you're hungry, leave those projects for right after lunch or plan a mid-afternoon snack.

Be Proactive

During the workday, a variety of unplanned intrusions can disrupt your concentration. Improve productivity and work smarter with a more proactive approach. Each Monday, make a list of the things that might need your attention during the week, such as a looming deadline or a major software deployment for a customer. Then, plan to address them in advance. If you're scheduled to deliver a project on Friday, call the client on Tuesday to go over final questions and concerns. If a deployment is scheduled for Wednesday morning, check in with the customer on Tuesday afternoon. By staying on top of projects, you can save time, make clients feel more supported, and reduce the number of last-minute calls and emails that sabotage your productivity.

As you strive to improve productivity at the office, don't be afraid to make changes to suit your situation. By tailoring each technique to your personality and responsibilities, you can build a customized system that transforms each workday.

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