Five ways to increase your productivity and go home on time

Everyone starts their day with the best of intentions. We will finish that important task, speak to that person, plan that long-term project and so on. But at the end of the day we’ve only accomplished a fraction of what we planned. So we end up coming in to work earlier, staying later, and working at weekends. We are always busy, but are we always productive? Here are five tips that will help you to increase your productivity at work:

1. Schedule time for yourself

Schedule blocks of uninterrupted time during the day. During this time increase your productivity by selecting one thing to do. Close your door, ignore the phone and email and give yourself time to concentrate and focus on this one task.

2. Make the most of your prime time

Your prime time is that time of day when your energy and enthusiasm levels are at there highest, as a result you have a greater ability to think and concentrate. Realise the time of day that you feel like this and use this time to concentrate your efforts on high value tasks. The aim of implementing prime time is largely to reduce stress, allow time for planning and to increase your productivity. Arrange meetings and other activities for other times of the day.

3. Avoid spontaneous meetings

Spontaneous meetings are really interruptions and time-wasters that decrease, not increase your productivity. They destroy your focus, and undermine your momentum. The next time someone comes to your desk and asks for ‘a minute’ tell them you would like to talk, but you need to get this task completed. Then suggest getting together at another mutually convenient time. You will be surprised at the amount of people that will say “it’s not that important” or words to that effect.

4. Plan your telephone calls

Every time the telephone rings it’s an interruption. If you’re focused on the completion of a task and the phone rings, let it go to your answer machine. You can then return the call at a time that is convenient for you.

If you phone someone and get through to their answer machine never leave a message asking them to call you back. If you do this you are giving them permission to manage your time, they will always call back at the most inconvenient time for you.

Instead leave a message outlining what the call is about, and give a time when you will call back. Eight times out of ten they will be waiting for your call, if you miss them again, send an email.

5. Help your staff and colleagues

In offices up and down the country, time is wasted by people asking questions of others, sometimes because it is easier than discovering the answers themselves. This interrupts both parties. Use the tips you solve this problem and help to increase the productivity of your staff and colleagues:

  • Put aside unmovable blocks time to meet with people
  • Don’t have sales and staff meetings on Monday mornings; it tends to drain people of their energy and enthusiasm. Why not consider having these meetings on a Friday, they can then be used as a motivational recap of the weeks’ successes, and a reminder of what needs to be achieved the following week. Staff can then hit the ground running on a Monday.
  • Help others to organise their time by handing out tomorrow’s work on the previous afternoon. This gives them time to organise and prioritise what they need to do and will lead to an increase in productivity.

If you would like more tips on how to increase your productivity, download my free Top 20 Time Management Tips Booklet.

Till Next Time

The Time Doctor – Mike Gardner

Mike Gardner aka ‘The Time Doctor’ and is highly regarded as one of the UK’s leading Time Management and productivity specialists. As well as being regularly featured in both online and off-line media outlets around the world, he is the author of the best selling time management book, Business Owners: Your Family Misses You. He regularly speaks on topics that are congruent with his mission of helping small business owners, entrepreneurs and independent professionals to be incredibly productive, whilst still balancing their business and family commitments in a way that enables them to feel fulfilled and guilt-free. He is an avid Aston Villa fan, a Dad to Neil & Emma, a hubby to Wendy and in his role as an Officer with the reserve forces, he has completed operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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4 thoughts on “Five ways to increase your productivity and go home on time

  1. Brilliant Post Mike – I love productivity posts! I love your tip for avoiding spontaneous meetings. I have really tried to set aside time for particular projects and time for myself to complete tasks (I love the idea of planning 3 big and two small tasks each day – it works well for me and I feel like I get something done!). And I totally agree with meetings not being very productive on a Monday – great post, thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi Mike,
    Great post. I completely agree with your suggestions.
    What do you suggest when you’ve blocked out time, closed the door, put up a ‘please do not disturb’ sign and colleagues stand at the door yelling out anyway even when you are on the phone? I’ve had a number of people do this in previous work places. Literally standing there demanding attention for not-at-all urgent matters.

    • Hi Caylie,

      I think sometimes it is just a matter of toughing it out and training others in how you manage your time, I think in the situation you have described, I would make the time for a very assertive conversation with the person concerned :-)