Productivity Hacks to Make You More Effective at the Office, Part I

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(Photo credit: Thomas R. Stegelmann)

We all could use more time in a day, but the stark reality for most of us is that life is only speeding up and becoming even more hectic as technology propels us forward, especially in business and office environments.

Truth be told, we were sold a bill of goods about how technology was going to make our lives easier, since it would automate and take care of many tasks for us. The problem is that the technologies that have, in fact, done some of that have also forced us to do more, learn more, and be more connected, 24/7.

Since it doesn’t look like smartphones or other tech innovations that have complicated our lives will be going anywhere anytime soon, the best thing you can do for yourself, for personal and professional reasons, is to become a master of productivity.

Before we dive into some ninja productivity hacks, the following Zig Ziglar quote should serve as a disclaimer: “Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.”

Start Your Day Right

Energy and mental clarity are vital factors to your productivity, so prepare and start the day right, and set the course for the rest of the day.

Getting enough sleep is crucial in ensuring that the mental acuity that is needed for decision making and creative endeavors is there. If you want to be remarkable, then late nights and the subsequent days of zombie-walking through the motions just aren’t going to cut it. While there have been reports about how some very successful people get by on minimal sleep, that’s not the type of habit that you want to pattern after anyone else, since everyone has different needs. Your body will tell you whether you really need six or eight hours, but the bottom line is – recharge!

Before you get into the office, make sure you have proper fuel in that finely tuned machine that you call your body. Replenish from your slumber, first and foremost, by making sure you’re hydrated. Downing around 16 ounces of water will both fill you up and properly replenish your body.

Now, a success habit to model is squeezing morning exercise into your routine. Whether you walk, jog, do weights or yoga, exercise to start the day has shown to improve both your mental and emotional state, and for productivity purposes, physical movement is an undeniable productivity hack.

Mastering Office Obstacles

There are few time sucking phenomena as prolific as the email inbox. To think, we once were so excited to get email that our inbox would proclaim, “You’ve got mail!” The truth of modern office life is that we’re all drowning in email communication, so turn it off to get serious.

Yes, turn off those alerts. Get down to what really matters and get things done. If need be, set an auto-reply to put overload offenders on notice that you’ll be checking email at noon and 3 PM, and if it’s urgent and needs attention before that time, they should call.

Lastly, managing meetings can revolutionize your day-to-day productivity. While meetings are a necessity and requirement for effective communication, that doesn’t mean we can’t optimize the time we spend meeting.

Scheduling meetings to start at five minutes past the hour not only ensures that you can start on time if your prior meeting runs long, but it also will stand out and is more likely to be remembered by the meeting attendees as you begin to implement this. If you get colleagues to follow, congratulations, you’ve started a productivity movement!

A couple other tricks for keeping meetings effective is to send out agendas the day prior, so expectations can be set and all participants can hit the ground running. Also, when the information is not confidential, keeping the meeting room doors open is another way to stay aware of the outside world, keeping the likelihood of becoming too hyper-focused and losing track of time to a minimum.

Stay Tuned for Part II

With all of the communication, responsibilities and demands put on us in a day, anything that we can do to simplify our activities as to focus on real progress is golden. Productivity can become your company’s competitive advantage, with all other things being equal. Be sure to check back in as I examine additional, unconventional productivity hacks to make you more productive, in my next installment.

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