Productivity Hacks: 8 Tips to Enable Smarter and Faster Work
Every business wants to maximize productivity. Not only can productivity improve output, but it goes a long way towards reducing workplace stress, promoting healthy work habits, improving customer satisfaction, and enhancing the way teams work together.
Whether it’s introducing new tech into your arsenal, rethinking the way you tackle projects, or simply prioritizing, it seems like just about everybody has a unique tip or hack they use to improve their workflow.
The best way to start is by learning from those who have turned their productivity game around - using the research these newly productive people have already conducted, you’ll be able to become a smarter, faster worker before you know it. Here are some of the productivity hacks employees swear by.
While multitasking was seen as a “must-have'' workplace skill a decade ago, businesses everywhere have come to realize how damaging multitasking can be for productivity. Multitasking still has its time and place, but for workplaces looking to boost productivity, constantly diverting the attention of employees is the last thing you want to be doing. Too much multitasking only encourages employees to divide their attention in many different areas, resulting in no single task or project getting the full undivided attention of team members.
This results in lower quality work, decreased productivity, and a lessened ability to effectively process information. Constantly flipping back and forth between tasks and projects only serves to blur the lines between high-reward and low-reward work, confusing priorities and often putting too much focus on low priority items. Instead of multitasking, employers need to encourage employees to put more focus on prioritization and focusing on high-reward items before tackling anything considered “low priority.”
Focus on the projects that matter most and use deep work to your advantage
In order to avoid context switching and reliance on multitasking, improving your productivity means being able to identify and focus on the tasks that matter most. Which projects have the highest reward? Which ones are due sooner, and which can be put off until later? What tasks will require your undivided attention? These questions need to be answered in order to identify high priority items - so you can block off time in your schedule and make it easier to get into a state of “deep work”.
Deep work is the idea that employees can greatly increase productivity by becoming deeply immersed in a singular task or project. No “shallow work,” no pings or notifications, no habitually checking emails, just you and the task at hand. Anything that isn’t considered high reward, has a flexible due date, and won’t require all of your attention should be considered “shallow work” or low priority and put off until your deep work is done.
Knock off difficult tasks first
The typical workday starts with checking emails, Slack, and any other tools you use to determine incoming requests. The temptation is to get back to everything right away, and do the “little things” first. The problem with this method is that the “little things” creep in throughout the day. If you have something really important to get to that you know will take quite a bit of your attention, take some “deep work” time and focus on that task first. Most of the little things you do first can wait until that task is off of your plate. The only thing to note if you rejig your workflow this way is to make some time for yourself in the afternoon to do smaller tasks, which by then likely have accrued into about an hour’s worth of work.
Schedule time for those stressful, low-reward tasks
Once you’ve tackled those high priority items, then you can put aside some time for anything considered “low priority” like responding to non-urgent emails and other low-reward tasks. These things still need to get done eventually, so it’s important that you schedule time in your day or week to address them. Leaving them for too long can cause additional and unnecessary stress, so make sure that your schedule reserves the appropriate amount of time for these tasks, and that you do it at appropriate intervals for the low priority workload you’re faced with.
Scheduling time for lower priority tasks boosts your productivity by ensuring all aspects of your workload are accounted for and can be completed in a timely manner, letting you give your undivided attention to each task and project in a way that makes sense.
Get organized and stay organized
In order to maximize productivity, each day should begin with some much needed organization. You should have a clear idea of what needs to be done each work day and how your day is going to break down in terms of what is priority and what tasks can wait. Getting organized helps to prioritize tasks and creates a clear roadmap of how your day, week, or month is going to go in terms of workload. As your day wears on, you’ll be able to cross things off your list and continue focusing on getting the next thing done, making it easier to avoid context switching and allowing you to block off time for deep working.
Remember that all it takes is a few distractions to derail your plans and throw your state of organization into chaos, so aim for long-term organization. The more organized you are, the easier it is to stay organized in the grand scheme of things, allowing you to block off time for those distracting tasks and keep critical tasks at the top of your list.
Integrate your workplace tech arsenal
Integrating your tech stack is a great way to boost productivity by putting everything your employees need to work smarter and faster in one centralized location. Rather than constantly switching between apps that have no connectivity and completely derail productivity, your employees can easily harness the power of their favorite tools through unique integrations. This could be as simple as being able to make a sales call from the comfort of an email inbox, or a more complicated integration tying several tools together.
Integration reduces the need for context switching, ensuring that your employees won’t lose crucial focus or have to reset their brain to go back to the state of mind they were in prior to switching. Ideally, all your workplace tools should have the ability to integrate with each other - essential tools like CRM solutions, cloud office suites, communication tools and project management apps often feature this ability, and it’s up to your team to make the most of them to enhance productivity.
Rethink the way your team does meetings
Let’s be honest - meetings can be a huge drain on our productivity. Meetings are a critical part of any successful team, but oftentimes they can be wholly unnecessary. Enhancing productivity means optimizing the way your team approaches meetings. Not everything deserves a meeting, especially if it can be communicated via an email or Slack channel. These are far more convenient ways to relay important information to teams, doing much less to distract and interrupt workflows than hourlong (or even longer) meetings or conference calls.
Save meetings for when they’re absolutely essential to the success of your team or an ongoing project, and ensure that when they do happen, they’re optimized to only include essential attendees and run for only as long as they absolutely need to. This way, employees can work productively all day long without needing to block off an hour or three for a meeting that only serves to frustrate and stress out your workforce.
Keep a healthy work-life balance
The key to staying productive is keeping stress and anxiety at bay. There are few better ways to do that than to develop a healthy work-life balance so you can give your all during working hours and focus on doing the things you love in your off time.
Whether you’re in the office or working from home, it’s critical that you separate your personal life from your work life. That means avoiding checking or responding to work emails after hours, not taking meetings or calls outside of your working hours, blocking off your unavailable times, and keeping separate work and personal profiles so you aren’t tempted to get a little bit of work done when you shouldn’t be working or thinking of working. If you’re feeling stressed and have too many things coming at you, that’s precisely the time you need to step away from the screen and go for a run or grab a quick snack. Working in a state of stress enables mistake-making and is the worst thing you can do for productivity - and your own mental health.
Workplaces can help to improve work-life balance by allowing employees to experience the flexibility of working from home at least sometimes. This enables workers to create a schedule that actually works for their habits, walk away from their desk when they need to, and work in an environment conducive to personal productivity.
Management can rely on actionable productivity insights to boost productivity
It can be extremely difficult to know how your employees are actually spending their time, especially without access to contextualized productivity data. Prodoscore solves this problem by offering unparalleled visibility into how your employees are engaged each day, providing managers and employers with actionable insights that give you an accurate indication of who is engaged, who your allstars are, what tools are becoming redundant or increasingly important, who’s at risk of burnout, and what’s working and what isn’t.
The qualified productivity data provided by Prodoscore allows you to increase engagement and productivity within your workforce by offering additional coaching, reallocating resources to help employees in need or at risk of burnout, and increasing employee flexibility so team members can work in a way that better suits them. Prodoscore is the perfect way to understand how your workforce is operating, what engages employees, and what drives them to work productively and push your organization to the next level.
Realistically, each employee will have their own work style and will find some productivity hacks helpful and others disruptive to their workflow. As a manager, you need to provide solutions that will help them, be flexible, and discourage multitasking and interruptions from other workers. Shoot for meetings about once a quarter which include training on increasing productivity and sharing between co-workers of what is working and what’s not to keep your processes finely tuned. Your staff should also be encouraged to come forward to you privately if they are being disrupted by other managers or staff on a regular basis. It may mean that those staff members need boundaries reinforced, or it may mean that the employee needs some help; either way, you can help them reach maximum levels of productivity and efficiency.
To find out how you can boost productivity, increase engagement, offer flexibility, hold your employees accountable, and get the most out of your workforce with actionable productivity insights offered by Prodoscore, get in touch with us today.