Getting more done every day is a hallmark of professional success. Employees are always looking for innovative ways to boost their efficiency at the office. With that in mind, here four top tips for making your time at work more productive from Harvard Business Review and Tech.co:
- Drop Busy Work
Being busy may appear productive, but it doesn’t mean you’re effective at your job. Instead, constant busywork can actually indicate that employees are wasting energy and failing to prioritize.
Harvard Business Review contributor Ron Friedman brings attention to a powerful insight from Christine Carter at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, “Busyness is not a marker of intelligence, importance, or success. Taken to an extreme, it is much more likely a marker of conformity or powerlessness or fear.” Rather than conform the expectations that you embrace busywork, focus on projects that yield your highest contribution as an employee.
- Take Time Off
“Top performers view time off not as stalled productivity but as an investment in their future performance,” says Friedman. A 2015 study revealed that work-related stress can lead to an inability to regulate emotions and process new stressors. Time-off — in the evenings, on the weekend, and during vacations — is an integral aspect of a productive work life.
- Batch Your Tasks
According to The New York Times, switching back and forth between different tasks drains mental energy and decreases efficiency. Batch similar tasks and projects together into 90-minute sessions to build a more productive work schedule. Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square uses this approach to manage two companies:
“I could no longer afford to be present everywhere and jungle the business backends, customer support issues and marketing strategy at the same time. Now I color-code the days and weeks in my Google Calendar to set the priorities right and keep my focus sharp.”
Batching your work by periods or days brings focus to projects, ensuring that you get meaningful work done rather than focusing solely on reactive work like incoming emails.
- Practice Saying No
Successful employees struggle to say, “no” to managers, executives, and coworkers. Friedman suggests that individuals start with building a strategy for protecting your time. This approach means “you don’t have to stop and think about how to phrase your response each time you need to turn someone down.”
Friedman suggests writing language in advance that you’re comfortable with — it should honor your boundaries without alienating team members. “Create an email template, or write out a script that you can use when doing it in person,” says Friedman.