This Year, Commit to Being Happier and More Productive at Work
Does every day at work feel like Ground Hog Day? Are you looking for more satisfaction from your work? Would you like to get more accomplished each day…and still have a personal life? Well, it’s possible — perhaps counterintuitively — with just a few simple changes when you commit to being happier and more productive at work. It’s just a matter of organization, time management, and staying focused on those things that are truly important.
Break the Email Obsession
It’s a fact: Email is addicting and the biggest source of workplace distraction. According to the research firm, The Radicati Group, the average corporate user receives 133 emails a day and very few, if any, require immediate attention. Still, many of us check our inboxes every five minutes for something more urgent or more interesting than what we’re doing at the moment. But this habit takes a toll on our productivity: 96 interruptions and a loss of 2.1 hours of work time in an 8-hour day!
Break the addiction by setting some rules. If you can, avoid checking email first thing in the morning. Instead, check it at regular intervals, say 10AM, Noon, 2 and 5. Save the emails requiring additional thought for later when you can fit them into your schedule. Other ways to better manage email? Turn off the email alarm, use Reply All sparingly, resist the temptation to send an email if a phone call will do, and don’t send email after working hours.
Tackle Tough Jobs at Peak Energy
Do you zip through your to-do list in the morning, but slog through it in the afternoon? Then like most of us, you’re a morning person. Whether you get your burst of energy first thing or later in the day, use your peak energy time to tackle your toughest assignments. Turn off the email, close your door, and let others know you’re unavailable during that time.
Keep a Single To-Do List
Many of us scatter our projects across sticky notes, day planners, notepads and electronic calendars. Valuable time is wasted keeping track of scraps of paper, transferring items and living in fear you forgot something. Avoid the confusion with a single to-do list. Once you get into the habit of writing everything down in one location, you’ll be able to concentrate on getting things done. When creating your list, be sure to prioritize those items that are most important and delete or “parking lot” the rest.
Tidy Up Your Desk
You may think a messy desk shows how busy you are, but if you have to spend time searching for things, you just look unorganized. Every day set aside a few minutes to clear your desk. Keep pens, pencils and pads neatly stored, line up binders and books and keep extraneous items away from keyboard and mouse. A well-placed in-box gives co-workers a handy landing spot for documents that might otherwise be strewn haphazardly across your desk and chair.
Keep Files Organized
Keeping your electronic and paper files organized is essential. Start by creating a logical filing system using clear, concise names. Place current electronic folders on your desktop, then move them to a hard drive directory when the assignment is complete. For paper folders, color code according to project type or importance. For example, use red for urgent matters, green for accounting, etc. When retrieving papers, leave a trail so you can return things to their rightful spot. Simply place a sticky note in the file where you removed the document and place a matching sticky note (either colored or numbered) on the actual document. To return the document, simply match up the sticky notes.
It’s a fact that eighty percent of what is filed is never looked at again. Before saving any document, consider whether this information would still be up to date the next time you needed it. If not, it’s time to pitch.
Stock Up On Supplies
It’s always the little things that slow you down – running out of printer ink for a big report, not enough pads of paper for meeting attendees. If you don’t have sufficient supplies on hand, it seriously slows down productivity. Every office or department needs a central supply of frequently used items. Whether that’s a closet or a single drawer, make sure your inventory is stocked with the necessary goods to keep you and your team on task. Your local Office Supply Dealer would be happy to help you place a standing order so you never run out.
Seems counterintuitive, but slowing down actually makes you more productive. Think about the last time you hit Reply All and had some explaining to do to the unintended recipients. Or, too late, double-checked a rushed project and found blatant, embarrassing errors. Rushing is the norm, creating a false sense of urgency, driving up stress, and increasing mistakes. Besides rushing being a risk for a heart attack, it also makes you impatient, frustrated and angry. If you tone down the panic, you’ll get the job done more quickly and accurately.
Resolve to be happier and more productive. All it takes is a commitment to renew good habits and ditch the bad ones to see an improvement in both your professional and personal life.