Dwindling productivity is a major concern in today’s business world. A routinely overlooked but fundamental driver of economic success, productivity is at the heart of global economic slowdown that the world has been witnessing ever since 2009. Britain’s poor productivity record of 18% lower than average and productivity of American businesses and workers declining by a 1% annual rate in the first quarter of 2016 – marking the fourth decline in the past six quarters, is worrisome to say the least. No, we are not referring to workers suffering Monday blues and taking extended weekends here. We have a larger problem at hand of employers and employees who report to work but are unable to generate much productive output by the end of the day/week.
Here are 7 habits to improve productivity at work, practiced and preached by successful people around the world.
#1 Multitasking is no good – work in batches instead: The human brain is not programmed for heavy-duty multitasking and the resulting mental overload can cause productivity loss, as reported by American Psychological . Creating 30-minute blocks for tasks at hand and focusing on one at a time is the ideal way to improve productivity, add more power to your brain, and get more done in limited time.
#2 Overpromising on deliverables is a sure-fire productivity dampener: Always start with the end in mind and refrain from setting unrealistic goals. Not only will that lead to a downward spiral in your productivity, it will also create an environment of stress that is no good for your health. When setting timelines for tasks consider both – expected and unexpected circumstances that can affect the same, and once finalized, make sure you deliver by that time.
#3 Prioritizing is a continuous process: In his best-selling book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author and business tycoon Stephen Covey advises readers to put first things first. Meaning, distinguish between the important high-value tasks that need immediate and more attention from the ones that are low impact and can be tackled later. Applying the ‘priority matrix’ as described in his book to your to-do lists can help you in putting tasks into their appropriate categories and ensure you tick them off the right way. Remember, your job doesn’t end with prioritizing – you must keep re-prioritizing as the day/week unfolds to make sure you are always on top of things.
#4 Exercise improves productivity at work: Beyond the physical benefits of lower blood pressure, diabetes risk, and a more attractive body, exercise affects our brainpower and cognitive ability and consequently the overall productivity. Taking cues from studies on the topic, organizations across the world are installing gyms, yoga rooms, games rooms, etc. in office premises and encouraging workers to exercise/indulge in a sport before, during, and after work hours.
#5 Block distractions: Interruptions are one of the biggest enemies of workplace productivity and they can come in any form – social media notifications, emails, co-workers asking for help, or unnecessary meetings clogging your schedule. If its social media and mails – block them out when attending to high-value tasks, if you have team members coming to you for help often – try documenting the solution for them to help themselves, and if innumerable meetings are eating into your time, delegate the same to an assistant or a trusted team member and request for an email from them encapsulating the minutes of the meeting for you to see.
#6 Encourage constructive collaboration: Synergy with colleagues, project heads, and stakeholders ensures everyone is in on the same page and working towards a common goal. This increases turnaround time, reduces glitches, and improves productivity manifold.
#7 Take time off to rejuvenate: Your physical and mental energy management is all about replenishing the same at regular intervals. Whether it is taking off on a vacation, pampering yourself at a spa, meditating, or doing some retail therapy – take time off to do what energizes you, soothes you, and refreshes you to take on bigger challenges.
Adopt these tried and tested habits to improve productivity, reduce stress, and have success knocking at your door!