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Improving efficiency: Exploring techniques to progress workplace productivity

Improving efficiency: Exploring techniques to progress workplace productivity

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Whether you're a CFO, general manager, junior employee, or intern, we all want to be productive and consistent with our work. But, sometimes things get in the way, and we finish the day, wishing there were simply more hours to achieve, hoping it will be better tomorrow.

Yet, sometimes those factors that decrease our productivity are not within our control and can hinder us long-term, which can lead to undue stress and losing sleep in a bid to catch up on the ever growing to do list.

So to save you from this burnout and unnecessary stress, we've compiled a list exploring the different ways in which you can aid productivity within your respective workplace, be it fighting worker fatigue by installing standing desks for your employees or perhaps, working in a completely new environment?

Or maybe it's through communicating with your superiors so that you're all on the same page about how everyone in the office can get the most out of their day.

Set clear goals

Step number one may seem like an obvious one, but in the day to day of professional life, it can be lost. It is absolutely vital to set yourself and/or your employees clear and easy to follow goals. When there is no end in sight, it can lead to burnout, with people struggling to stay on top of even the most menial tasks due to exhaustion and this feeling that there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

Whilst we all want to impress our boss and ourselves by setting impressive targets, setting impossibly high and ultimately unachievable goals can decrease your mood and leave you feeling disheartened. Being sure to communicate what feels doable when including the rest of your workload and external parts of your life will ensure that you and your team are all on the same page, and you're able to complete your work at the desired time, without burning out or breaking down.

This meeting could have been an email

Whilst meetings are important and are a benefit as they can aid clear communication, it's important not to inundate employees with them. Too many meetings can not only feel overwhelming, but they also take away valuable time that could be spent taking on timely tasks. By inundating your team with them, they can begin to have the opposite effect to what you desire, instead, leading to workers losing steam and zoning out. So when planning meetings it is important to take into account a few factors.

Firstly, keep them consistent, have a Monday plan and attack meeting where you set goals and work out what needs to be prioritised, maybe even check in with how everybody is doing, but be wary of setting too many surprise or unplanned ones, and ensure only the relevant parties are involved, sometimes the entire team does not need to be involved.

Try and keep meetings short and sharp, people are more likely to lose focus during long and dense gatherings. Ensure you're getting to the point and getting everybody back to work as soon as you can. Finally, try and ask yourself, could this be an email? Rather than getting everybody to break away from their busy days to congregate in the conference room, send an email filled with as many dot points as your heart desires to get everybody on the same page.

Break it up

Sometimes, even with goals set, tasks can feel overwhelming, due to their sheer volume of work, especially when set against a tight deadline. As previously mentioned, factors like this can cause employees to burn out, there is no light at the end of the tunnel, only a giant stack of work needing to be done.

The simplest way to tackle this goal is to try and break it up into more palatable bite size pieces. Rather than looking at a task as one giant assignment, look at it as a few small ones. Suddenly, it seems far less overwhelming. You don't need to write 2000 words, you only need to write 500. Once that chunk is done, you can give yourself a little break to recalibrate and relax, and then move on to the next chunk.

Help to prioritise

By setting yourself clear goals, and breaking up your workload, you're aiding your efficiency and overall morale as a byproduct of that. However, there is still one more part that can really ensure you're never struggling to meet a deadline again, and that is by knowing what to prioritise. That 2000 word report may have been broken up into much more palatable chunks, but it's still being done last, even though it's the most important.

The way to tackle this is to enlist the help of a diary or date planner and write out all the tasks that you need to do and their corresponding due dates. From there, order them from earliest due to latest due. And, of the ones required to be done the earliest, reorder them into what is the trickiest or most time-consuming task. From there you can enlist the previous techniques of setting yourself goals and breaking up your workload. This process should ensure that you're at your peak capacity without breaking down or burning out.

Check in on workplace morale

There is a silent killer of workplace productivity, and it is low office morale. When the feeling within the space is low and stressful, even the simplest of tasks can feel overwhelming and stressful. As well as that, employees just want a break, leading to increased phone time, or mindless internet surfing. Employees may also not feel valued, which makes them less likely to actually want to do the work since there appears to be no thanks and no support. So, to combat this, check in on employees and how they're feeling when they're at their 9-5.

Be conscious that people can feel as though they will be judged or demonised if they speak up against negative work culture. So, perhaps incorporate a suggestions box into the office. Or, those in management can instigate small gestures to boost the overall feeling of workplace happiness.

This could be through a team dinner, flexible starting hours, team building exercises, and other things of this nature. These small fixes can help employees to feel appreciated or just decrease their stress levels generally, which will have an overall positive benefit on productivity output.

Interruption elimination and alternative tactics

Finally, one of the biggest detriments to productivity is interruption inundation. If people can't work without the possibility of interruption, they will never get anything done. A way to handle this is to have quiet spaces in which people can go to work without the general noise of the rest of the office. Having this alternative space will provide some solace and calm and allow workers to hunker down, and tick off that to do list.

Another option is to try alternative tactics for employees to try as a way to break up their routine. This includes the ever popular standing desks, which can decrease shoulder and back pain, as well as simply giving you a change in pace to your usual habits.

Alternatively, you could try blue light glasses; a decrease in productivity could come from painful headaches, a byproduct of staring at your screen all day. Blue light glasses can help to diminish this and keep you going for your full eight hours.

At the end of the day, there are a number of factors that can aid productivity, whether it's by simply communicating well with your employees to ensure they're feeling valued, and helping them to feel less overwhelmed. Or maybe it's through working hard to prioritise your workload, in a bid to get things done and feel less overwhelmed during your office hours. One thing is for certain though, by putting these tactics into practice, your output is sure to go up, as well as spirits within the workplace.