20 ideas for increasing productivity in the workplace
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 19 May 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Productivity is an important metric that managers and employees may use to measure the efficiency levels of a company, department or individual employees. Being more productive at work can position you well for career advancement and can even increase your earnings in commission-based roles. Learning about methods and tips for increasing productivity can help you work more efficiently and find ways of working that best suit you. In this article, we discuss what productivity is and share different tips for increasing productivity in the workplace.
What is productivity?
Productivity is the measure of output per unit of input. The most common type of productivity is labour productivity, where you measure the productivity of people in the workplace by monitoring how much work they complete over a period of time. Being productive involves quickly completing high-quality work.
In terms of personal productivity, monitoring how efficiently you perform your work duties can help you complete more throughout your workday. By working more efficiently, you may take on additional responsibilities, pursue career advancement opportunities, position yourself well for a positive performance review, and perhaps even receive a pay rise.
Tips for increasing productivity at work
Here are some examples of how you can increase your own productivity in the workplace:
Prioritise your tasks based on their importance
In order to be productive at work, it's essential to review what duties you need to complete and which tasks are most important so that you can focus on more time-sensitive tasks first. To begin, make a list of the tasks you need to complete. You can add to this throughout the day as additional items arise. Establish which tasks are most important. Here are tools you can use to establish the priority of different tasks:
Action priority matrix: The action priority matrix requires you to prioritise tasks based on their urgency and importance, with its key takeaway being that not all important tasks are urgent and not all urgent tasks are important.
Decision matrix analysis: With decision matrix analysis, you can prioritise a list of tasks based on several factors, such as the time it will take to complete or any cost involved.
Eisenhower matrix: The Eisenhower matrix enables you to identify the best way to approach each of your tasks by determining whether to do something immediately, decide on a time to complete it, delegate the task or delete the task from today's list.
Related: What is prioritising?
Schedule time in your day for important tasks
It's easy to delay working on important tasks, especially if you don't feel confident about them, but scheduling time in your day to complete them ensures you have dedicated time to focus on completing high-priority duties and can hold yourself accountable for completing them. Tackling important tasks when you're most alert can help you complete them more efficiently. While everyone works differently, understanding how you work best and setting time aside to focus on high importance tasks can help to ensure they're completed on time and to a high standard.
Organise your workspace
A clean and organised workspace can help you focus on current tasks. Removing any clutter from your desk can help you more easily find important items. As such, it's important to ensure your workspace is tidy and that you have everything you might need throughout your workday nearby.
It's important to work in a quiet environment so that you can focus on your workload. Turning off notifications, putting your phone on silent and using noise-cancelling headphones can help you avoid distractions while you're working. If you work in a busy office environment, it may be beneficial to book a private meeting room when you have a high workload or urgent deadlines to meet.
Plan meetings ahead of time
Not all meetings have an agenda, but writing what you want to discuss in an upcoming meeting can help meetings to remain focused. This all increases the likelihood that these meetings finish on time. Try to limit your agenda to two or three items and consider sending this agenda to attendees ahead of time so that people can come prepared for the meeting.
Take regular breaks
Schedule regular breaks throughout the workday. Taking time to stretch or go for a walk can help you better focus on your tasks when you return. Ensure you have something to eat and drink during your break to remain energized during work. Taking breaks allows your brain to rest, allowing you to return to work feeling refreshed. This can make it easier for your brain to regain focus on essential tasks.
Check emails around once or twice a day
Try to set aside time to read your email around once or twice a day. This allows you to dedicate more time to more complex and higher priority tasks. Consider turning off notifications and schedule dedicated times towards checking and responding to emails. This keeps you from missing important emails and allows you to provide prompt responses to recipients while still efficiently completing other essential projects.
Ensure you're well-rested
Quality sleep allows you to focus effectively and accomplish more during the day. Try to ensure you receive around six to nine hours of sleep each night. This ensures you're rested and increases your ability to focus on time-consuming or complex tasks.
Prepare the night before
At the end of each day, write down the things you want to accomplish the following day. You can provide more specific details to ensure you outline all of the tasks needed to complete a larger project or focus on more general or larger tasks you hope to complete in the future. If you have many tasks to complete the following day, you may set small goals to complete throughout the day and can build a schedule for yourself to make them more manageable and attainable.
Write down your thoughts as they arise
Keep a pen and paper, or a digital notes application close by to write your thoughts as you think of them. This stops the idea from interrupting your workflow. Writing these ideas down immediately ensures you remember them, while still allowing you to document the idea or task so that you can return to it at a later time.
Establish systems and workflows
For tasks that you have to complete frequently, find the most efficient ways of working to remain productive. Developing systems that eliminate the need for decision-making can help you improve your day-to-day productivity. Some companies have established best practices for certain processes, but trying different processes can also help you establish workflows that work for you.
Increase natural light
Working close to a window for natural sunlight can not only improve your mood but also your performance. Consider taking a walk outside during a break to increase your exposure to natural light. You can also request to sit near a window if possible.
Set self-imposed deadlines
It may be easier to delay tasks if your supervisor doesn't provide you with a deadline to complete them. Self-imposed deadlines can provide a focus or goal to work towards completing. By scheduling your own deadlines, you can more easily manage your workload by taking your time to complete tasks throughout the week to increase the chances of submitting quality work.
Track how long you spend on tasks
An important element of time management is understanding how long tasks take you to complete. Understanding how long to schedule each of your tasks can make it easier to effectively plan your day. Timing the tasks you complete frequently helps you determine how long they take to perform so that you can schedule your time more accurately.
Work in intervals
It's difficult to remain focused for long periods of time, and tasks that take a long time to complete may be challenging to start. Instead, commit to working for a set interval, such as 60-90 minutes. Set a timer and commit to working for the duration of the interval before taking a break and returning for the next interval.
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