Tip of the Week: How to Improve Office Work
Working in an office is the reality for a lot of people, but it doesn’t need to be an unpleasant one. There are plenty of ways to make life easier while working in an office. Here, we’ll review five simple adjustments you can make to streamline your time throughout the workday.
1. Show Up on Time (If Not Early)
Want to simplify the workday, while also keeping your bosses happy? One of the easiest ways to do so is to simply show up on time, prepared for the day.
Management tends to view prepared workers as more conscientious than their coworkers, and as a result, will often score them higher on performance reviews. Whether or not it can be considered fair, those who perform at their best later in the day are often viewed less favorably than those employees who do their best work in the early morning.
Attendance in general is often a concern. We’ve all known someone who seemed to miss days of work until they just... stopped showing up altogether. This isn’t always because this missed time has caused them to fall behind, either. Many organizations will look to people who are in regular attendance at work (but may not perform as well) as better employees than high performers who frequently miss time.
As Woody Allen said, “90 percent of life is just showing up.”
2. Set Aside an Hour to Tackle Your Most Pressing Issues
For a place that is designed for getting work done, the office can often be a difficult place to accomplish this. You just get into your swing, when suddenly… emails, phone calls, instant messages, office chats... all start popping up at once. I don’t have to tell you how frustrating these interruptions can be, and how they can throw a day into flux. This is one of the reasons that it is so important to schedule yourself for one hour of uninterrupted work to address your priorities. Leveraging your office’s scheduling system to help manage this time and set aside this hour has shown to be an effective means of boosting productivity.
One of the most effective strategies is to proactively eliminate (or at least reduce) distractions. First of all, you need to make sure that your team is aware that you will be unavailable for a period of time each morning. In order for this to be effective, you need to maintain clear and direct communication with your fellow team members. Another option you have is to actually use the tools that you frequently overlook. Take the “Do Not Disturb” setting on your smartphone, or instance. This tool is a great way to shave back the amount of distractions that you need to deal with.
3. Turn Off the Music
With the modern penchant for open office spaces, the workday can get loud and hectic. This makes listening to music seem like a good idea. Unfortunately, this isn’t so much the case, as it simply substitutes one distraction for another. You may be under the impression that you are accomplishing things faster, but the research indicates that this isn’t the case.
One neuroscientist of prominence suggests an alternative: instead of distracting your brain with music as you try to be productive, listen to some music before you begin to put yourself in the right frame of mind. By listening to music - and then stopping - before you begin your task, you can also file away your mental distractions so that they won’t cause an issue.
4. End the Day by Planning Tomorrow
Those last few minutes of the workday can be a real drag, with everyone shifting into evening mode. As tempting as it certainly is to switch off “work mode,” we suggest you resist for a few additional moments to organize the following day.
Taking a few moments to review your schedule for the next day is, in many ways, like taking something out to defrost for dinner. Instead of flying by the seat of your pants to cobble something together, you know what you have planned and what you need to do in order to be successful. Which situation sounds better to you: coming home to something that just needs to be popped in the oven for a savory slow roast, or coming home and realizing that you have to microwave a piece of meat in order for it to (hopefully) cook properly? In our business, we’ve found that taking those few minutes to plan the rest of our day in the morning sets us back for the rest of the day.
Try these suggestions out to see if they have any benefit on your productivity. What else have you tried to maximize your workday’s output? Share what you’ve done in the comments and let us know how it worked!