If you’re struggling to adjust to your ‘new normal’ work environment, whether it’s returning to the office, or juggling working from home with other commitments, then you might need a little help in boosting your productivity. We lose four hours of work a week due to inefficient processes, according to Officeworks’ content and learning hub, Noteworthy. I can well believe it; the past couple of months have seen me drowning in unfinished tasks, half-answered emails and a messy desk. I turned to Noteworthy to get some advice on how to boost my productivity.
Here are some of my favourite ideas:
I almost dismissed this suggestion, as getting my inbox down to zero would be no mean feat. But after reading Noteworthy’s advice that Inbox Zero is about “freeing workers from the distraction and control of a constant barrage of emails,” I decided to give it a go – especially when I read that most employees pause to check emails or messages every six minutes, seriously disrupting any train of thought.
The idea of Inbox Zero is to look at your emails just three times a day for 30 minutes each time. It felt strange at first, but not being distracted by unimportant messages pinging through meant I could properly concentrate on what I was meant to be doing, and I got through tasks much faster. When I did look at my inbox, I followed the rule of either deleting, delegating, responding or deferring each email. It felt good to deal with things in an ordered way, and definitely meant I was able to keep on top of things. It was a great way of bringing some organisation to my working day.
The Pomodoro Time Management Technique
Working from home means constant distractions, and I’d been finding it impossible to get stuck into a work project without spotting something else that needed doing around the house. I liked Noteworthy’s suggestion of trying the Pomodoro Technique, which is a time management hack to increase productivity. The rule is that you dedicate 25 minutes of total concentration before taking a ten-minute break. After four 25-minute cycles, you can take a longer break of 30 minutes to let new information sink in. The article suggested setting a timer to keep myself on track, and to keep a notepad and pen handy to jot down any good ideas or important tasks that pop up during your 25 minutes of focused time.
It worked well. Knowing I had just 25 minutes to complete something made me focus, shut out distractions and work quickly. The timer helped too as I didn’t have to keep checking the clock. In fact, I got more done in my first four cycles than I had for the whole of the previous day.
Working in a small home office means I’ve been surrounded by piles of – mostly pointless – paperwork, making it hard to be efficient when searching for documents or notes I’d made. Noteworthy suggested streamlining my stuff could boost my productivity. I spent a few hours converting nearly all my paperwork to digital files, which I then put on the cloud so I could get rid of all the physical copies. I took the article’s advice and spent 30 minutes each week sorting through my desktop and downloads folder, deleting anything I didn’t need. It felt great to see both a clutter-free physical desk, and computer desktop. Going digital has definitely saved me time and lowered my stress levels.