Work smart, not hard: How to increase productivity

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We always hear that we should work smarter, not harder: usually from people who manage to get a lot done in just a few hours. For a lot of us, a single task can take a lot more time. Some feel accomplished in the end of the work day, while others clock out disappointed, exhausted and overwhelmed.

So what do productive people do differently? Before anything else, it’s all about working smarter, not harder.

Productivity is a skill, and can be developed like anything else the better we get at it. There are ways to hack this latent power, to get more done in less time, build productive habits, and beat procrastination.

Every employee should adopt the right techniques and learn how to maximize the workflow and increase productivity. Here are some ways to start:

Single-Tasking For Productivity Improvement

A common problem in the workplace is that everyone is doing so many things at once in a desire to double the results. But it just doesn’t work like that. Our mind doesn’t perform well when we jump from one task or activity to another. Task switching leads to distractions, poor performance and no progress. If you really want to get things done and do a good job, you need to perform one task at a time, and dedicate yourself to it entirely. Simply decide on what to do first, focus your full attention to it, and don’t leave it until it’s completed.


Break big projects down into small tasks

New projects often look scary and difficult. And that makes employees anxious, as they start thinking they’ll fail. Work is put off as they procrastinate as long as they can, and the stress compounds in a vicious cycle.

But in its essence, each project is a step-by-step process. Each of these steps is tiny, simple, and can be tackled in no time. We just need to get to the first one. Sit down and think the project through. Break each larger task down into smaller actions. Then, do it again and again until you have one clear and quick thing to do right away.

That makes the working process more bearable, faster, and easier.


Eliminate distractions at work

Distractions are all around us these days. People come in while we’re trying to focus; someone calls or texts all the time; we receive notifications; we want to check email and social media; we start thinking about the next thing we’ll work on; this list goes on. All these get in the way of getting things done. So they must be eliminated.

First of all, let others know when you’re starting to work on something important so that they won’t bother you. Use software or tools to help you stay away from the Internet. Let go of random thoughts, and clear your mind–you can come back to those later.

Focus is something we learn over time. Meditation can help with this, actually: try staying still for a couple of minutes in the morning or evening and focus on only one thought. You’ll find it hard at first, but in time, it will get easier. Before you know it, this ability will bleed into other aspects of your life, and you’ll be able to concentrate for longer periods of time at work too. It just takes a little discipline at the outset.


Brainstorm with colleagues

You’re not alone in this. Others want to do their best and most productive work too. Employers are usually ready to make the necessary changes when it comes to receiving better results. So why not have a bi-weekly meeting where you can discuss productivity techniques, tools you’ve found that work, ideas, and more? Take the reigns, and suggest it yourself–it’s a fair bet your boss hasn’t even considered this tactic.


Break the monotony

Another reason for low productivity levels is monotony. Employees get bored if they do the same things daily and nothing new happens. They lose motivation and often try to just complete all the tasks as fast as possible regardless of the quality of the end result.


To change that, consider some of the following:

  • Remind yourself of your “why.” Each task has a purpose. Define it and be aware of the benefits of completing it.
  • Ask to be given new projects. this will help you get out of your comfort zone and try new stuff.
  • Try doing the same work in a new way and track the results.
  • Have fun. Enjoying the process is key here. Find ways to make your day at the office more pleasant, so you can stay motivated and consistent with your work.

These are some first steps toward and doubling your productivity in no time. But where do you go next? Taking courses, reading books on the topic and doing research can help too. There’s a lot of powerful advice on how to be more productive and efficient from experts out there. If we have the desire to improve and make the most of each day, then we can also take the time to find the right resources and consume information on the topic.

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Amos Tay

Amos Tay

I have over 10 years’ experience in the Logistics and Transportation industry working both as an in-house HR professional as well as an external recruiter. I have a Gallup CliftonStrength certified coach. Connect with me for your next Logistics & Supply Chain hiring role.

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