The secrets of success in any sort of workplace usually lie in the area of effective time management. (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee , flickr)
By Carlo Pandian
Whatever it is you do for a living, it usually feels as if you just don’t have the time to fit everything in that needs to be done. The secrets of success in any sort of workplace usually lie in the area of effective time management. Here we include a few useful and proven tips to help you be more productive in the workplace.
- Use batching. Often there are a load of peripheral tasks that need to be addressed but which are not much of a priority. It’s just annoying having a cloud of them hanging around needing to be dealt with at some time or other. Checking analytics is one example. Batch processing is a useful technique that can be used here, and it essentially involves concentrating on one particular task for a short period in the day and afterwards never looking at it again. Give your whole attention to emails, for example, at specific times of the day (mid-morning, after lunch and mid-afternoon) and then ignore them for the rest of the day instead of loitering around your inbox.
- Cultivate single tasking. Multi-tasking gets in the way of productivity. Trying to do a lot of things at the same time practically guarantees that you’ll do none of them really well. Draw up a to-do list that is not too overwhelming and kill any possible distractions before you start going through it. Tools like NowDoThis are useful to use in this context, and there are extensions in Google Chrome that limit distractions whilst you’re online.
- Make an accountability chart. All you need is paper or a whiteboard and a pen for this. Draw a couple of columns on the paper or whiteboard. In the left column list a productivity session’s time span. In the right column list the various tasks that have been accomplished in that span. You can adjust the tasks and time spans according to personal working preferences. Monitoring your own performance by writing it down helps you stay realistic.
- Manage energy better. Longer hours at the desk don’t add up to better productivity. We get a lot more done when we feel suitably energised rather than just sitting at the right place physically. Proper energy management cuts out internal sabotage stratagems such as trying to ‘pace’ ourselves so as to keep working. Plan breaks over the course of a day to restrict this mental conflict and instead work in sharp, effective bursts with breaks in between.
- Make daily rituals. Rituals are good for performance. Once in place we can effectively go on autopilot because an automatic brain reaction is triggered when the brain knows that certain things are expected of it in certain circumstances, reinforced by regular repetition. You sit at your desk only to work, for example, or go to bed only to sleep.
Incidentally, a software equivalent of this can be found in advanced accounting suites such as QuickBooks from Intuit. This package processes financial activity and prepares tax returns largely automatically, freeing up resources in the company for other things.
- Draw up a Not-to-Do list. This is simply a list of things which, if you did them, would distract your attention away from the work that needs to be done. For example, it will tell you not to check emails more than once or twice a day, or not to work on any single task for longer than an hour at a time to avoid slips in focus.
Carlo Pandian is a business writer and regular contributor at Startup Malaysia. He is interested in productivity, finance and new ventures and can’t stay without reading TechCrunch for more than one week.