5 Ways to Boost Work Productivity

Six ways to work less, yet produce more.

Posted Jan 17, 2012

You may be reading this while you are at work.  Perfect - here are six ways to get moving with that work productivity.  You may even find that when you practice these six steps, you are getting more work done in a shorter amount of time.   And who doesn't want that?

1.  Block time-wasting websites

Firefox has a site-blocking add-on called "Leech Block".  You tell Leech Block which websites you want blocked, which days you want the sites blocked, and for how long you want them blocked each day.  Other browsers have similar features. 

You'll be surprised how second-nature it is for you to log in to Facebook.   You don't even think about it.  Until you get a blocked screen.  If you have to access a site for work, you can unblock the site easily. (And no, you don't need to view www.icanhascheezburger.com for work research.  No matter how much you try to convince yourself otherwise).

2.  Take naps.

It would be wonderful if all of our workdays instituted a mandatory nap hour.  The siesta hour (resting after lunch) is a great idea.  When you are tired, you just don't work as well.  You may be making more mistakes at work or even having to do your work over because your brain was asleep even though your body was awake.  Just shutting your eyes for a few minutes can help you recharge.

3.  Take your vacation time

If you have paid vacation time, by all means, take it!  Even if you don't get paid vacation time, take "emotional snow days". (Thank you, Pushing Daisies, for that great descriptor of "mental health days".) You don't get gold stars for overworking yourself.  Too much work and too little play can lead to burnout.  Signs of burnout include:

  • Feeling numb
  • Just "going through the motions" - not getting any enjoyment out of the day
  • Hating your job
  • Feeling like you don't make a difference
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling like a mouse on a treadmill - you feel like you never stop working

Take a break.  You need it, both emotionally and physically.  Taking a break helps you see your life through a wide-angle lens -  you see the big picture.  Reevaluate where you are going with your career and with life - and see if you need to make some changes.  And maybe you don't need to make any life changes - you just need to refresh and reenergize.

4.  Get it in writing

If you fall behind because you can't remember or aren't sure what steps you were supposed to complete with an assigned task, make sure you get directives in writing ahead of time.  If a coworker breezes by and tells you multi-step directions, ask them to email the directions to you.  Or email them to yourself immediately.  Not only do you have a reservoir of emails to reference, you also have created a paper trail.  So if your boss says, "I thought I told you I needed this last Tuesday!", you can look up the email showing him that you are actually turning in your work ahead of time.  Booyah.

This is also one of the principles that makes FedEx so successful.  They base their business on tracking information.  There's nothing quite like the feeling of satisfaction you get when forwarding a proof of delivery email to a company that says they never received your FedEx letter.

5.  Know your body clock

Everyone has a time of day when their brain is on the ball, and a time when they would just rather take a nap.  Schedule your most challenging tasks for the times when your brain is fully awake, and mundane day-to-day tasks for when your brain is at its lull.  (Or take a nap - see #2.)

In a perfect world, night owls would have jobs that started in the afternoon and ended in the wee hours of the morning.  Morning people would never have to work the night shift.  Do what you can to find a job that fits your sleep/wake cycle - and if not, schedule your most challenging tasks for when you are most alert. 


Copyright 2012 Sarkis Media LLC

(Author note:  I have not been paid to endorse, nor do I have a financial investment in, any of the websites mentioned.)