April 13th, 2009
Want to Be More Productive at Work? See these 11 Steps

You spend 8 plus hours a day at your desk juggling phone calls, emails and correspondences. Yet the stack of paper on your cluttered desk keeps growing taller, you eat more meals at the office than you do at home and you are still barely meeting your deadlines. Find ways to avoid time traps and to improve existing processes to be not only more productive at work, but much less stressed.

Step1

Spot time wasters. Common culprits are instant messaging, web surfing, personal phone calls and chitchat with co-workers. The minutes spent on these distractions can become hours of lost time and lost productivity. Set limits on these activities and find ways to politely end conversations.

Step2

Limit distractions and interruptions. Schedule times to review and respond to mail, email and voice mail. If possible, turn off instant messenger programs and do not answer personal phone calls while you work on other tasks.

Step3

Organize and prioritize. If you are constantly searching for items on your cluttered desk, set aside time to organize files, tools and equipment. Keep paper and electronic files in labeled folders. On your computer, create shortcuts and favorites to help locate items quickly and easily.

Step4

Use a single portable calendar to track all meetings, appointments and deadlines.

Step5

Create a schedule to start and complete a given task and stick to it. Begin and end tasks on time. A daily or weekly “To Do” list can also be a helpful tool to stay on track and stay productive.

Step6

Be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses and then budget time and tasks accordingly. It can be helpful to do the tasks that you like the least first, since they may be more time consuming and you are more likely to complete more interesting activities.

Step7

Write agendas for meetings and stay within the allotted time. Inefficient meetings that go late are a major cause of productivity loss.

Step8

Write down all key information such as date, time, attendees, agenda items and action items when taking notes. This may save considerable guesswork later. When in doubt, document.

Step9

Learn to use new and better tools to do your work and invest some time in learning to use existing tools more efficiently.

Step10

Find a coach or mentor or take a class in time management , organizational techniques and productive business communication.

Step11

Take breaks. This may seem contradictory when you in swamped. However, “crunch time” is when it is even more important to remain clear and focused. It is easy to make mistakes and when feeling overwhelmed. Actually schedule breaks into your day if necessary. Even a short walk around the building can clear your head and reduce stress, which boosts productivity. Courtesy: eHow Careers & Work Editor

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