Finding a job we are passionate about is one thing, performing well and be productive another.
The reason you got that job is because you impressed your new boss and gave the impression you will be productive, now it is time to prove you are worth the position you have. Employers want people who will achieve their business goals. As a new employee just like any other employee, you are under pressure to realize set goals. Employers want results. Remember, you impress by getting work done fast and efficiently. Many people lose their jobs every year due to lack of competence. It is no secret that some people are passionate about their jobs but still find themselves unsuccessful in reaching targets and beating deadlines. There are several things that can affect your focus and reduce your efficiency.
1. Time scheduling
Time is of the essence when it comes to working. How you schedule your time is crucial for success in your job. To spend more time on a task does not necessarily mean you will do it right and on time. Some people put in extra hours and work after hours doing tasks they could finish within working hours if they were disciplined enough and focused. Contrary to belief, it is spending less time on a task that will help you achieve your goals. The trick here is that when you have limited time to do something, you put more effort into completing it. When you have more time, you will keep postponing until it is too late. The key word is focus. You concentrate more when you are under pressure and can achieve this by planning a shorter period to complete a task. For example, If it takes you three hours to complete a task, schedule two and half hours for it. Be strict and use a timer if you have to. Anything else that is not immediately connected to your current work has to wait. Working for eight hours daily and overall 40 hours weekly is recommended. After this period, your concentration drops and procrastination takes over. Always work smart and it will pay off in the end.
2. Know your more productive moments
It is imperative that you discover the time of day when you are at the most industrious. It is easier to complete important tasks at this time. However, if you still allow distractions at that particular time, it will be futile since it will go to waste. You need to avoid distractions like emails, meetings and any other item that will affect your concentration. For example if your peak time is around 11 am, avoid small things like emails, Instant messaging, phone calls or meetings. You can check your email after completing your task. Unless it is a crisis office meeting make others aware that at a particular time of the day, you do not meet. It is about setting rules to govern your productive moments.
3. Assess your productivity
Do efficiency assessment on yourself in a bid to get to know how you spend your time. There are several ways to track your time. The question maybe how long should your appraisal be in total to give you reliable results. Experts claim that a month is enough to give you an idea how you perform your tasks. How you think you spend your time, and the actual way you spend it may not be the same. Rescuetime.com is believed to be the best option to measure both your online and offline activities. Depending on the version you have installed in your computer, your activities are tracked automatically either online or offline. The higher version that also tracks offline activities is not free though.
4. Important vs. Urgent
The difference between what is important and what is urgent can be a bit confusing. However, in order to be productive, you need to spend more time of your work day doing important things rather than those that are urgent. Important tasks include anything that helps you achieve your goals, what your employer has asked you to do as well as what you deem as important. The reason you wake up in the morning and go to your workplace is the crucial part of your work day. When evaluations take place, they usually are based on the goals you are afforded at work to attain. Remember if your superior requests that you perform a particular task that may seem unimportant, you still have to do it because it may be critical to them. More importantly you can be active participant in deciding what is vital to your work. When you take part in such decisions, you will be happy to perform tasks and know their importance.
Urgent jobs are not necessarily relevant. You need to develop the skill to assess different functions for their importance. It will help you choose and spend ample time on the important tasks first. Immediate tasks may come in the last minute, and you need to put your foot down and may have to refuse to do such tasks. Anything can be urgent. Remember, when you have important tasks avoid things like emails, phone calls, social media posts and messages. Conversely, the urgent task can also be essential. When urgent is vital, you need to make sure everything else take a back seat.
To help you with decisions pertaining to important tasks is The Eisenhower Decision Matrix. The Matrix will help you distinguish between urgent and important tasks. The Matrix has four quadrants namely Urgent/Important, Not Urgent/Important, Urgent/Not Important, and Not Urgent/Not Important. You should give immediate attention to the urgent and important quadrant (Q1) tasks since they encompass your business goals. Things that should receive immediate attention include deadlines, work related problems and crises in the office or with clients. Remember, you can eliminate critical jobs by being hands-on. When you perform tasks on time, your work will always be up to date. Tasks in the second quadrant, not urgent/ important (Q2) tasks require attention next. These tasks usually do not have the time limit or are not deadline driven, but they still assist you to achieve your overall work goals. These (Q2) activities are mainly related to improving or nurturing relations. They may also include putting together strategies for the future and self-improvement. Thirdly, not urgent/important (Q3) tasks and activities that are pressing but do not help us achieve our work goals. If a job does not help fulfil your goals, it is not important thus does not require immediate attention. Emails, SMSES, Phone calls are some of the urgent but less important attention seekers. Lastly, not urgent and not important (Q4) category, these are activities that require any of your attention at the office when you are busy. These are distractions you do not need.
5. Keep energy levels at the right place
Energy is vital for our efficiency and keeping the right levels is as important. Our bodies require nurturing at all times so that we can maximize our output. You need to ascertain that you get enough rest first of all. Taking work home is not such a good idea, so is working until late after you have put in eight hours of work during the day. Unfortunately, after 8 hours of work our bodies start to produce less no matter how much time we put in. Hence, it is advisable that you work 40 hours per week, although sometimes you will need to go the extra mile. Knocking off on time is also not enough on its own, you need to go to bed early and spend at least 10 hours there. Getting proper sleep will help you achieve crucial activities.
If our bodies are well rested, they will perform five times more.
Do not underestimate what food and drinks can do for your body. Eating and drinking water properly will also increase your productivity. Breakfast and lunch are imperative to a successful day. Also nominate one day in a week to rejuvenate and re-energize. Saturdays and Sundays are the best options for those who work Monday to Friday. During your off day avoid anything connected to your work. If your work uses mind then do nothing that requires the intensive use of your brain. If you use your hands, on your rejuvenation day do nothing that requires spending your energies.
Apart from eating correctly, make sure you exercise and think positively. If you are more active in the morning, then your mornings should be reserved for more important tasks. Learn to guard and nurture your strengths. Remember when you are well rested, you are unlikely to procrastinate.
Some people still believe multitasking helps with productivity. Well, it is time to get rid of this fallacy. There is available research proving that multi-tasking is a hindrance to productivity. Look at it as another way to self-distract by taking too many tasks at the same time. You end up not completing the relevant activities on time. Primarily, performing one task at a time will increase your productivity by many folds since you will focus on one thing at a time. Researchers also claim that multi-tasking increases your stress levels. There is also evidence that multi-tasking make you feel overwhelmed. Before you take on various tasks at the same time, think about how this is going to affect your output.
7. Learn to say no
Employers often expect their employees to perform various tasks with limited time. It may affect your productivity. Many young and inexperienced employees may feel pressured into taking on more responsibilities. Stop being Mr nice guy since it can cause enormous productivity problems. Hence, you need to learn to say no when you cannot do more. However, do it strategically. First of all, check how much time is required to complete the work. If the project does not fit your current workload, then refuse to do it. Remember even after you say no, still offer to assist your colleague with certain parts of the project. Unless additional responsibilities are advantageous to your work goals, do not take them. If they insist you do it, propose to tackle it at a later stage when you have completed your current project. When you turn down your boss, do it in person, unless you are a communication expert, you may use the wrong tone in the email. Do not come up with lengthy explanations, keep it sweet and short. Explain to your boss what you are working on and present him with your deadlines.
8. “The Pomodoro technique”
When people fail to complete tasks, it is not because they have limited time. In fact, the more time you have on your hands, the less effort you make to finish quickly. Human beings procrastinate more when they have plenty time for a task. Pomodoro technique helps with productivity. In the 1980s, Francesco Cirillo struggling to complete his school projects on time developed this method. Using a kitchen timer, he divided his tasks into 25 minute projects. In between, he took 3 to 5 minute's breaks. As the day wears on he altered to 15 projects and three to five minutes breaks.
9. Plan your day the night before
Scheduling your day well ahead will improve your productivity. You can schedule your tasks on your calendar using time boxing. How your day commences determines how it will end. All you need is a few minutes a night before to plan your next day. Make exemptions for crisis only. Always review what you accomplish every day and plan for the following day. Planning a day ahead helps to start your work as soon as you get to the office, instead wasting your morning to plan your day. Make to-do lists the night before, take into cognisance meetings, presentations, deadlines and breaks. Learn to organise your desk before going home every day and see the difference it produces.