January 19th, 2010
Ever catch yourself being unproductive at work? You start out checking your personal e-mail, take a coffee break mid-morning, have a long-winded conversation at the water cooler, chat it up with your buddy in the next cubicle, surf the Web pointlessly for a bit, and the next thing you know, it's five o'clock and you haven't finished that report your boss needs by tomorrow morning. If any of this sounds familiar, you may need to find strategies to boost your productivity at work.
One of the best things you can do at work is to minimize your distractions, and for most people, that means eliminating the time you waste mindlessly surfing the Web. If you do most of your work on a computer, one of the best ways of doing this is to remove your Internet shortcut icon from your computer's desktop and keep it under Programs. That way, in order to get on the Internet, it is an extra click or two and not as much of an immediate temptation. You would be surprised at how well this works.
Related to this is not checking your work e-mail every five minutes. Check it in the morning, avoiding the temptation to click on that funny forward your co-worker just sent you, and only check it again once you have completed a task. Do not even touch your personal e-mail while at work, as doing so will routinely take you down time-wasting rabbit trails.
Start out your day by writing a to-do list, and be sure to complete the most pressing and difficult tasks first thing in the morning, rather than procrastinating them. Believe it or not, your brain is freshest in the morning and you'll find you're most productive in the moments just after you sit down at your desk. This also helps you to look forward to the work you have left in the afternoon since it's not as rigorous as the work you completed in the morning.
Bringing energy-boosting snacks from home will help you avoid time-wasting trips to the snack machine and give you a pick-me-up to combat the afternoon slump that sets in around 3 p.m. Good ideas include fresh fruit, peanut butter crackers, nuts, or a small amount of dark chocolate.
Finally, work until the last minute. Many people slack off during their last hour of work, anticipating the time they get to leave. Use your last hour at work to the fullest, and you'll be surprised how much you'll get done.