5 Top Tips for Being More Efficient at the Office
Contributed by Nicky Sarandrea
A huge number of Americans (around 86% based on recent estimates) spend their days sitting at a desk and staring at a computer. Many work a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday job in a cramped office, tapping away on the same keyboard. It can be soul-destroying and after a few months it can also feel like every day is the same and that you’re just an automaton working on autopilot.
But with a few simple changes to your approach, you can turn your working day around, drastically increasing your productivity. If you’re a freelancer or remote worker, the following tips could even help you to increase your free time and allow to spend more time away from the keyboard.
5. Set Small Goals
Goal-setting helps to gamify the working day, giving you objectives to aim for and triggering a release of endorphins when you reach those goals. But rather than setting several big goals, you should break each goal down in several constituent parts, making it more manageable and turning what may seem like a daunting task into several easy ones.
As an example, rather than “Finish Project X” you might write down the following:
Research Project X
Write 1,000 Words
Run the project by a colleague
Meet with client
Deliver Project X
Goal setting in this manner not only adds a little order and structure to your day, but it also provides an uplifting boost when you tick each one of them off.
4. Set Your Goals High
It’s important to keep your goals somewhat realistic, otherwise you may give up on them when you realize that no amount of work will get you over the line. But at the same time, goals that are too easy to achieve will result in a wasted, unproductive workday.
There is actually a scientific principle for this known as Parkinson’s Law, which dictates that no matter how trivial work is, it will take up all of the time that has been allotted for it. In other words, if you have a 10 hour work then regardless of whether you set yourself a 2 hour or 10 hour task, you’ll spend all day working on it.
So, pile-up those short tasks, work on those longer ones, and make sure that your goals account for every minute of your working day.
3. Do the Tasks you Don’t Like First
If you begin your day with tasks you hate and end it with tasks you like, you’re dangling the proverbial carrot-on-a-stick in front of yourself and giving yourself an incentive to power through.
If you do the opposite, then once you finish the task, you like you’ll get so disheartened doing the one you hate you’ll slow down and start procrastinating.
2. Work in Bursts
Our brains work best in short bursts of around 1.5 hours to 2 hours, after which inattention kicks in and procrastination becomes more prevalent. A lot of research has been conducted on this subject and researchers have discovered that working in 90 to 120 minutes bursts results in the most productive workday. So, rather than working for several days straight and then taking a short lunch break, get your head down for a couple hours at a time and take short breaks in-between to chat with colleagues, drink a cup of coffee or even go for a short walk.
Not only will you get more work done, but it should be to a much higher standard as you’ll always be giving it your fullest attention.
1. Don’t Check Your Emails Straight Away
Office workers across the United States begin their days by checking their emails, a tiring process that can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple hours, leaving them drained by the end, which is when they actually begin to do some work.
The morning is actually when we are at our most productive, as our brains have yet to be affected by work and are alert and ready to go. So save those emails for later in the day and use the first two hours of the day to do the job that requires your full attention.
Bio — Nicky Sarandrea is a writer and marketing expertly currently working for Deskhub San Diego. He writes on a wealth of topics, including business and productivity.