By Forbes Staff
If you're reading this article instead of calling a client or crunching a spreadsheet, chances are you could be more focused at work. You're not alone.
According to a recent survey by Salary.com, the average employee admits to wasting about two hours of each eight-hour workday, not including
lunch or scheduled breaks.
The Internet doesn't help. Like the college roommate who keeps asking us to hang out when we know we have to study, the Web (and e-mail) provide so much distraction on a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour basis that we can find it nearly impossible to give our full attention to higher-level tasks. And with few defined edges to many projects, we end up living in an endless jumble of work and life. We can book a trip to Turkey while participating in a conference call; we can send work e-mails from a towel on the beach in Cancun.
As the economy ebbs along with our focus, we have more to do and less time to do it. Enter the productivity experts. Their guru is David Allen, author of the 2001 book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (GTD to its devotees). There's no one-size-fits-all approach to boosting productivity, but Allen and his ilk have some effective tactics you can use right now.
Here are five of them. If the economy continues to slump, they may just help you keep your job. See the full list here.
Sounds counterintuitive, right? Truth is, we'd all be more productive if we checked e-mail only a few times a day rather than incessantly, says Allen.
Tame Your In-box
Technology is a wonderful servant but a terrible master. Allen says that if replying to or disposing of an e-mail takes less than two minutes, do so right away. Get rid of that annoying alert flashing on your computer every time a new e-mail comes in. Send less to receive less: Keep your e-mails short, and write fewer of them.
Learn How To Say "No"
It's only two letters but it can be the hardest word to get out. Again, avoid e-mail. If you can, try to help solve the requester's problem. For help on a related productivity killer, check out How To Tell Someone They're Wrong (And Make Them Feel Good About It).
Swear Off Social Media
If you don't need it for work, save Facebook for home and turn Twitter off during the work day. (For more on when and how-and how not-to use social media at work check out Ten Myths About Social Networking For Business.)
Bother To Make Use Of The Time You Save
Boosting productivity isn't just about making sure things get done and feeling more in control along the way. It's about freeing up time for deeper, creative thinking-perhaps about new products or other ways to generate revenue (or to cut costs). Schedule stretches of creative time throughout the day-mute your phone's ringer, close your door, avoid e-mail and think.
Now, isn't that better?
See more tips for achieving greater productivity at work on Forbes.com
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By Forbes Staff