Welcoming distractions, procrastination and entertaining all your boss’ requests are among the ways of looking really busy at work without getting anything done. To make up for this, sometimes we work overtime just to feel better about our lack of focus. How can you really make the most of your 9 to 6? You can achieve more during your work hours by simply working smarter, not just harder.


Apply these tips to achieve higher productivity and better results:



1)    Start your day with a to-do list.

After listing your tasks, prioritize them according to importance and deadlines. One simple way is to give an ABC rating of your tasks – ‘A’ for critical ones (must be done by the day), ‘B’ for less urgent but important tasks (can be tackled after ‘A’) and ‘C’ (can be completed later). Doing so will help you to stay focused.


2)    Procrastinate no more.

Do you find yourself doing tasks that you like first? Tackle more challenging tasks when your energy level is high at the start of the day. It is tough to be productive when you start feeling tired during the day. Overcome procrastination by breaking complex projects into smaller parts so you can focus on completing one at a time.


3)    Organise your desk.

Are you spending too much time on searching for documents, tools or files? A cluttered desk can be a source of stress. Precious time can be saved if you keep your desk organized. Remove the clutter on your desk by designating places for different items, getting rid of things that you don’t need and creating folders for meetings and projects.


4)    Take enough breaks.

Do not feel guilty when you take a toilet break or walk to the pantry for a coffee break. Studies have shown that taking regular breaks at work can improve productivity. They help you to clear your mind so you can continue your task with a fresh mind. If you are tired, staying focused on your work will be a challenge.


5)    Learn to say no.

Being excellent at work does not mean you have to say yes all the time. You have a good reason to say no if you simply do not have enough time to help your co-workers or your other work will suffer if you take on a new project. By saying no, you can concentrate on the tasks at hand and deliver them on target. Explain your reasons to your boss and colleagues so they can understand where you are coming from.


SEE ALSO: Finding Meaning in Your Job


6)    Stay away from distractions.

Do you know that checking emails whenever you receive a notification or chatting with colleagues who stop by your desk will take you away from getting work done? Reducing distractions can help you to focus on completing your work. This includes saying no to social media. Carve out work periods, retreating to a quiet zone and disabling digital notifications to minimise interruptions.


7)    Focus on one task at a time.

Research has shown that multitasking is counter-productive. Reading your emails while making a call may result in you not fully comprehending the messages. Staying focused on one task at a time will help you to work faster and get more done.


8)    Batch together similar tasks.

How much time do you spend transitioning between tasks each day? Setting specific times to respond to your emails at one go and processing business expenses once a month are some of the ways to reduce the amount of time wasted on moving from one task to another.


 9)    Concentrate single-mindedly on a task.

Single-handling is a powerful time management technique for boosting productivity and improving efficiency. Once you start on a task, put your heart into it. Be disciplined and do not switch tasks halfway. Stay at it until its completion.


10)  Live a healthy lifestyle.

Research has shown that eating, exercising and sleeping habits can affect productivity at work. Eat well and get enough exercise and sleep so you have the energy to get through a busy work day. Skipping your meals or burning the mid-night oil to produce that proposal may be counter-productive.


A good worker pursues excellence. Start inculcating these good habits and it will go a long way in helping you stay on top of your game and be increasingly competent. It translates to better work-life balance, freeing you to pursue your interests and spend more time with your loved ones.


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