Around NEEP HQ, we talk a lot about efficiency as it relates to energy, but what about efficiency related to other prevalent areas of our modern lives? This Staff-Hacks post dives down to the bottom of office efficiency where readers will ideally surface with some sand in hand!
I'm a big fan of life hacks, or shortcuts and systems that make life a lot better with less effort. Check out a few of my favorite productivity hacks that I use to achieve better focus and crisp results with a smaller time-wasting footprint:
1. Don't multitask:
We all like to think that we are masters of multi-tasking. After all, isn't more better? Evidence suggests that multi-tasking is a myth and the true cost of task-switching may be up to 40% of your productivity. So the next time you feel the urge to check email and finalize a document during a meeting, consider a simpler and saner approach to work.
2. Plan for tomorrow, today:
Make a to-do list at the end of the day for things that you have to complete the next day. Prioritize the top two or three high-priority things that you want to get done the next morning or afternoon. This clears your mind for the rest of the evening and gives you a list to attack first thing in the morning.
3. Cut down on checking email:
Constantly checking and organizing email is a great way to feel like you're being productive without actually getting anything done. Restrict email checking to certain prime, batched times. I like right before lunch, hop in on the conversation after everyone else has finished their back and forth, and again at the end of my day. Set a limited amount of time to check your email and don't check it again until your next scheduled inbox visit.
4. Give yourself less time to do everything:
Block off your days and give yourself less time to do everything. Check out the 15-Minute Workday or try time boxing, both excellent systems for staying focused and on track. Give yourself a specific, short amount of time to accomplish one task. Once that time is up, move on to the next task. If you give yourself all day to finish a task that can be completed in 45 minutes, you will in fact take all day to complete it because that's the time you allotted to the task. By giving yourself less time to complete the task, you will work harder to hit your goal of completing it in a short time.
5. Turn off distractions:
While chugging away at one task in a time block, eliminate all other distractions. Close email and web browsers. Silence and put away your phone. Concentrate solely on the task at hand. Inevitably other things will come up while you're working. If it's something you can finish in 2 minutes do it. If not then put it on your list to finish later and finish what you were doing before the interruption.
6. Make time for breaks
Focusing on an activity or task for a long period of time can be draining. To stay engaged, break up longer sessions with short, scheduled breaks at regular intervals. Leave your desk for a walk around the office, stand up to stretch, grab a snack, or just take a second to recharge. Your brain uses down time to process information and to problem solve. Breaks give a chance for true creativity and innovation to happen.
7. Find your productivity hotspot
I'm known around the NEEP office for retreating to random conference rooms to do work. Find places that minimize distraction and maximize mental and physical space to get things done.
What do you think? What's your favorite way to get things done?