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Work smarter, not harder! Try these life hacks to streamline your office habits and increase your productivity at work.
The stats are alarming: each week we lose about four hours of essential work time due to delays, distractions and inefficient processes. But a well-organised workspace and the right routine can help you optimise your workday and score huge wins when it comes to time management and checking things off the old to-do list. Here are some helpful life hacks to increase your productivity at work for the long term.
Research has shown prolonged sitting is linked to health problems such as Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. These worrying findings have led to a revolution, with many businesses adopting standing desks across the board. But here’s the thing: sustained standing can be just as harmful as sitting.
The key is to find balance. Take regular breaks to stretch or walk around. Another healthy habit is to alternate periods of standing and sitting throughout the day. A sit stand desk is perfect for this. They are easy to use and OT approved; simply lift it to the height you require. Complement your new desk with a mat to support legs when standing – and don’t forget an ergonomic stool or chair when sitting.
Clutter is the enemy when you’re trying to be organised: if you let the papers pile up you’ll soon become swamped! Set up a filing system so that keeping things tidy is an effortless enterprise. Have an in-tray for all current documents and use Post-it page markers to keep things in order.
Be ruthless, too. As soon you’re done with paperwork, file it away in a folder to refer back to later. File racks are useful and can help you find the folder you need instantly. Sensitive documents should be kept out of sight – house those in a document box or filing cabinet under your desk. Good work habits like these ensure you aren’t wasting time searching for documents. Discover more filing hacks to change the way you work.
Do you struggle with time management? You’re not alone. According to data collected by the RescueTime app, most employees pause to check emails or IMs every six minutes and 21% of our working day is taken up by social media and the internet. Distractions are everywhere and their impact on our productivity is real.
A solution could lie in adopting the Pomodoro Technique, a time management life hack invented by Francesco Cirillo. It encourages people to increase productivity by paying attention to one task at a time, dedicating 25 minutes to it before pausing to take a 10 minute break. After four 25-minute cycles, you’re allowed a longer break of 20-30 minutes to help new information sink in.
Hot Tip Set a timer to keep yourself on track! Keep a notepad and pen handy to jot down any good ideas or important tasks that pop up during your 25 minutes of focused time. You can attend to these later.
Step into the 21st century with Microsoft Office 365. This super software suite saves time as it allows you to store all your files in one place and access them from almost anywhere across multiple devices. Working from home or offsite is instantly easy and there’s no more worrying if you’ve remembered the right USB stick.
With access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Publisher, you’ve got all the tools you need to create and edit documents and presentations, plus you can also increase productivity in an organisation when collaborating with fellow team members in real time. It’s a game changer for getting stuff done.
There’s no question that digital calendars are convenient and easy to use. This life hack sounds counterintuitive but let us convince you of the value of an old-school paper planner. Firstly, there’s evidence aplenty that writing things down by hand allows you to better retain information and encode memories.
When you’re pausing to write in your planner, you’re slowing down and being more mindful about your schedule and work habits. Plus, having one physical book in which to record all of your appointments, goals, task lists and phone numbers is practical and beats wasting time flicking between various apps.
Hot Tip Take things to the next level with Bullet Journalling, a buzzworthy notebook organisational hack that’s so popular it’s amassed over 8 million tags on Instagram.
How do you attack the day? The jury’s still out on the best way to structure your day for maximum productivity but you can take away plenty of tips from the experts. Apple CEO Tim Cook is a notorious morning person who wakes at 3.45am each day so he can tackle his inbox. While that’s overkill (sorry Tim!), you can still start your day with an email-first policy to help you schedule and set the tone for the rest of your day.
Or follow in the footsteps of Audrey Gelman, co-founder and CEO of women’s co-working space The Wing. Her life hack to stay focused involves grouping together similar work activities, such as a day of video meetings with clients. This system saves time as it maintains a sense of flow, continuity and also makes the most of your wardrobe choices.
Hot Tip Listen to the How I Work podcast for tons of hacks on structuring your work day. Host Amantha Imber chats to innovators, writers and entrepreneurs.
Mouse technology has come a long way in the past few years, so there’s no excuse for sticking with a clunky clicker. These days there are many wireless and ergonomic options and both have bonus features to maximise efficiency and productivity at work.
A vertical mouse is a good choice if you suffer from hand or wrist pain – the unusual design keeps the arm in a neutral resting position and prevents strain. Got an Apple device? The Apple Magic Mouse 2 is much lauded for being a trackpad and mouse all in one – it increases productivity as it has no buttons and lets you swipe and scroll with ease. Or keep things simple with a compact wireless mouse, perfect for travel and staying productive on-the-go.
It’s an essential office communication tool but is email also contributing to poor time management? According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, the average worker spends 28% of their work life managing email; precious time wasted on deleting junk mail and sorting messages into folders.
With emails pinging into your inbox all day, it can also be an unwelcome distraction from crucial tasks. Author and podcaster Peter Bregman suggests this life hack: schedule specific times to read, respond to and check email and switch off our inboxes at other times.
Hot Tip Aim for three 30 minute email sessions per day – one in the morning, one in the middle of the day and one at the end of the work day.
According to Atlassian.com, 31 hours are spent in unproductive meetings each month which is a huge drain on resources, time and energy. And while many have moved to mostly video meetings, if you can still cut back on the frequency or duration of them you can hopefully redirect this time towards more relevant pursuits.
Step one, save time by identifying who really needs to attend a meeting and ensure extraneous people are left off the invitation. Next, set an agenda and stick to the scheduled time so meetings are kept short and sweet. At the end of a meeting, provide actionable notes for everyone in attendance – this hack creates a productive work environment and makes certain that future meetings won’t rehash the same topics.
OK, so you’ve just spent 10 minutes reading this article. Are you meant to be working? The tricky thing about procrastinating is it’s a lifelong trait and experts say it’s probably genetic. But there are things you can do to curb the habit.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of procrastination. Often, it stems from confusion about how to start a task. If something seems difficult or requires a lot of decision-making, we put it off in favour of simple things like scrolling through Instagram. Here’s a life hack to increase productivity. You can tackle any task, no matter the size, by breaking it down into tiny manageable steps. Write these steps down and cross each one off your to-do list as you go.
Hot Tip Prevent procrastination and hold yourself accountable – get a buddy to check on you to ensure you’re making progress on completing tasks. There are also online tools and apps that can help, like Procraster.