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Accomplish more in less time

HAVE you started your day not knowing where to start with your work? Have you ever wondered how to complete your assigned task, meet deadlines, answer calls, respond to emails within a relevant time? Or, ever felt that you have a lot on your plate and hardly have time to finish them all?

There are times when you feel like you are so busy, and yet, at the end of the day, you only accomplish a few things over the tones of workloads you need to do. Productivity shouldn't be confused with busyness. As the saying goes, "Being busy means doing stuff, being productive means getting stuff done." Here are some simple tips and ways to help you boost your productivity at work:

1. Declutter and organize. Keeping your work environment clutter-free and well organized is very important. It helps you to focus, concentrate and be more productive in your work. Clear your desk. Sort through all your stuff and set up your filing system for each project or client. Label your files and designate a spot for every stuff. This helps you easily find the things you need when you need them. Looking for misplaced items is a waste of time.

Do not let paperwork start to pile up on your desk. Make sure to sort papers and documents daily. Do not keep them on top of your desk. As much as possible, the computer, documents you are working with, and a simple photo or an item that inspires you should only be the items on the surface of your desk while working. Always clean up your work desk every day before you go home so that you will have an organized day to start tomorrow.

2. Plan each day the night before. Always plan. Know your schedules. Plan your work and work on your plan. Make a realistic to-do list. Your to-do list can make everything manageable. Having a clear outline of the task you accomplished and still need to be done will help you feel organized and stay mentally focused. Making a to-do list can help you track your progress and help remember even the things you normally forget.

As I mentioned earlier, your to-do list must be realistic. Keep it simple and achievable. Cramming on the things you need to do on your list will only make you feel preoccupied and overwhelmed.

3. Avoid multitasking. Most often than not, we believe that multitasking makes us more productive. However, studies have found that multitasking reduces your productivity by 40 percent. Switching from one task to another limits your focus. Every time you switch tasks, you will backtrack a lot and have to repeat a bit to find out where you last left off. Assess your priorities regularly and boost your productivity by focusing only on one task at a time.

4. Manage interruptions. Interruptions at work such as phone calls, hallway conversations, workmates stopping by your office, social media notifications, or anything else that unexpectedly demands your attention can be a key barrier to managing your time effectively and, ultimately, can be a barrier to your productivity. If you are often distracted by social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, eliminate digital distractions by setting limits on when and how often you'll use these things. Keep your phone on silent mode and turn off notifications while working so that constant updates won't distract you. See also if you could work with headphones to avoid distractions.

5. Eat-the-frog. "If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first." – Mark Twain.

It is the thing that you don't want to do but need to do. It is important to accomplish first the most unwanted task you have on your list because once that one task is done, the rest of the day will be easier, and you will get the energy and have a sense of accomplishment at the beginning of your day at work. If you have more than one important task to do in a day, simply deal with the biggest first.

6. Take breaks. Taking short breaks in between work boosts concentration and productivity. Constant sitting at your desk puts you at a higher risk of heart disease, depression and obesity. You can take a five-minute walk, take a nap, take a few deep breaths or meditate. Refresh and refuel your mind.

7. Maximize your daily commute. You may think that the time spent on your daily commute is a waste of time. However, instead of scrolling on your social media accounts, you can utilize that as bonus time to plan important tasks, respond to emails, create a to-do list, brainstorm or read news updates.

8. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Your health is vital to your productivity. Getting enough sleep and maintaining a healthy exercise routine, as well as your eating habits, play an important part in your productivity. Make sure to get enough sleep. An average adult requires seven to eight hours of sleep every day. Eat healthy breakfast every morning. Food properly taken nourishes your body and brain to perform better. Stay hydrated throughout the day. Water will cleanse your body, lowering the chance of illness and improving brain activity. Keep your water intake at a minimum of eight glasses every day.

Work smarter, not harder. Start increasing your productivity at work by deliberately implementing the tips and simple ways above. Increasing your productivity does not happen overnight. It takes time and courage to gradually make a habit of improving your productivity. Keep your goals straightforward. Manage procrastination and spend your work hours well. Have a productive day ahead!


Aileen Melchor, CTT is the accounting manager of Paguio, Dumayas & Associates, CPAs (PrimeGlobal Philippines), an institutional member of the Association of CPAs in Public Practice (Acpapp). The opinion of the writer does not reflect in any way the opinion of these institutions.

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