Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day. You find yourself busy all day, but you don’t get as much done as you think you should. Before you know it, you’re swamped. You can’t take on a single thing without another task falling by the wayside.
There has to be a better way. Maybe you’re truly overloaded. If that’s the case, talk to your boss. But before you do, try these work productivity hacks. You may find by changing a few of your office habits you can create the time you need to handle all your responsibilities. Your stress level will go down, and your performance will increase. What do you have to lose?
1. Say “no” more often
You have a finite number of hours in the workday. No matter how productive you are, there is an upper limit to the amount of work you can produce. This is why the first work productivity hack is to say “no” more often.
Many people can’t say “no” at work because they don’t want to upset others and don’t want to develop a reputation as someone who isn’t a team player. Declining requests from others doesn’t have to be upsetting to them, and it doesn’t mean you’re not a team player.
When telling someone “no,” do it politely. Briefly explain why you’re declining their request. Maybe you have an impending deadline, you’re about to go on vacation, or you have the entire rest of your day dedicated to other assignments. When people know why you can’t help, they’re more likely to accept that you can’t help them. Explaining why also helps dispel the notion that you’re not a team player. The other person can see you’re working on other assignments that contribute to the organization’s success.
If your boss makes frequent requests you feel like you need to say “no” to, here’s a great strategy for dealing with it. Bring your boss your list of current assignments, and ask which one needs to be delayed or removed to accommodate the boss’s latest request. You’re not technically saying “no,” but you’re managing your workload through transparency with your boss.
2. Hold better meetings
Meetings can be a time killer. At their worst, meetings are gatherings of people sitting around a table hemming and hawing over an issue with no chance of resolving it. Sometimes these time sucks are unavoidable; however, the meetings you call don’t have to be this way.
Holding productive meetings is easy when you plan for them to be productive. What are the most important things to ensure a productive meeting? Have an agenda; invite the right people; and document clear action items.
3. Schedule email time
Have you ever spent an hour cleaning out your email box only to find several new messages in a matter of minutes? It’s frustrating.
Most people respond to emails throughout the day. The inbox is perpetually open and only a single mouse click away. You can respond (or should we say react?) instantly.
Productive people don’t handle email this way. They set aside times of the day to handle email. You may need to start small. It may start with cutting down your inbox checking to once an hour. After a while, you may find you can check it just once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The frequency will vary by your job duties and your boss’s expectations, but try scheduling your email time to see how it fits you.
On your way to productivity
You can implement these work productivity hacks today. Expect some trial and error, and don’t be too hard on yourself when you fail. When you peek at your email at an off-schedule moment, recognize the productivity you lost and do better next time you’re tempted. Any small amount of improvement is still an improvement. No matter your degree of success with these hacks, you’re going to be more productive.