Tips to Improve Your Productivity at Work

Try these tips to improve your productivity at work.

Staying productive at work is hard for a lot of us. Not because we're not capable employees, and not because we're not killing ourselves to get things done. Sometimes, staying productive at work is hard because the plan we've set for ourselves to manage our time just isn't working.

"Increasing your productivity is not necessarily about working harder - it's about working smarter," said Linda Descano of Citi's Women & Co. "Start by prioritizing and having a plan, and don't forget to take a break every now and then to recharge. Keeping an eye on the big picture at all times can give you the ability to add value and shape the direction of your work - which ultimately helps shape the direction of your career."

Check out these productivity tips that will have you maximizing your workday and conquering your task load in no time.

Make your inbox work for you.
One of the biggest productivity killers is failing to organize your email inbox. When your inbox is a mess, you end up wasting time later on trying to find important emails that your boss or coworkers are banging down your door about. To make your inbox easier to manage, create folders for the various projects you have to handle. Flag important messages or create a "Follow Up" folder for important emails that you receive and send. Putting important sent messages in that folder, or flagging them using your email portal's tools, will remind you to follow up on the task in case the recipient forgets to respond. Go through your "Follow Up" folder at least once a week to ensure you're staying on top of your game.

Related: 8 Ways to Be More Productive Working From Home

Maintain a to-do list.
It sounds simple enough, but it's easy to let even a basic to-do list become too much to handle. If you're managing multiple projects with multiple to-dos for each one, create a master task list and divide it up into sections based around the projects you're managing. Every day, identify the most important items from each section and put them on a separate to-do list for that specific day. Only add items to your daily to-do list that you know you're actually going to be able to complete. Being able to complete all of your assigned tasks will keep you more motivated throughout the day, make you feel accomplished when it's over and, ultimately, help you get more done.

Allot a certain amount of time to respond to email.
We've all been there - you have a massive to-do list, but you keep getting sidetracked because various emails are pouring in, or you get sucked into answering the ones you didn't get to yesterday. While you should be mindful throughout the day of important emails as they come in, it's important to set aside a certain amount of time each morning and each afternoon to go through your email, suggests Maitland Greer, senior marketing manager at bill management service Manilla.com. Think of it as another item you need to put on your to-do list. That way, answering email doesn't distract you from the rest of the items you need to complete that day.

Related: 10 Ways to Free Up an Hour of Your Day

If it takes less than 30 seconds, JUST DO IT!
I can't tell you how many times I've written, "Send email to ________," or "Follow up with ________," on my to-do list, and then it sat there for days at a time. When I finally go to complete these tasks, they take less than 30 seconds, so what was I waiting for? It's easy to overlook the quick, easy to-dos, and it's common to think, I don't have time to do this because I really need to get this bigger project done first. But the truth is, getting the smaller tasks done allows you to cross more off of your to-do list, making you feel more productive and giving you more motivation to get those more time-consuming projects finished. The rule to live by? If it takes less than 30 seconds to complete, just do it!

Breaks
Being productive doesn't mean working six hours in a row without leaving the building. Breaks are an important part of staying productive because they allow you to get away from your desk and clear your head. Experts say that after taking a break, your performance levels increase because you return to a task with renewed vigor and a fresh mind.

- By Sarah Kaufman, Manilla.com

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