Working Smarter, Not Harder: Tricks to Help You be Your Most Productive Self in 8 hours or Less

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Let’s face it; most companies these days are on a budget. You have to do more in your workweek even though your days aren’t getting longer. You’re the assistant, the researcher and the project manager. The struggle is real!  

For me, this became apparent when my son was born. I had this little human who needed me to come home after work, despite what deadlines were looming and what projects needed attention at the office. Plus, I reallywantedto go home after work. I also didn’t want my career to take the back seat so I had to figure out ways to do the same quality work in 30-40 hours rather than 40-50.

Below are the five most significant things I did to reduce the amount of time I spent at work by maximizing my productivity.

  1. Turn Off Email Notifications

    Turn off the chimes, bells and pop-up windows that alert you to a new message.

    Emails are a distraction. You could be in the middle of something and the pop up notification appears, along with that dreaded chime, and your brain goes right to that email and away from your work. You need to answer the question, you needto respond as soon as possible, the person on the other end of the chain needs to know how hard you are working. The sense of urgency is overwhelming.

    Imagine the sense of peace you will have if you turn off notifications. Your emails aren’t going anywhere, they just aren’t distracting you anymore.

  2. Check Emails Less Often

    Let’s say you checked your email once every two hours, you’d have two blissful hours of uninterrupted progress. Imagine what you can get done!

    Since I have implemented this trick, I have not stayed late in the office a single day.

  3. Keep Lists

    The first thing I do in the morning when I get to my office, before I turn my computer on, is make a list of everything I need to focus on that day. If I have meetings I write: “meeting prep,” if I have a deadline, I write: “project due by 3pm.” My list is usually a full page and I always try to add two or three easy wins, such as “email Joe” or “send document to Cindy.”

    Crossing things off your list can be very satisfying. Things that don’t get done will go to the top of the next day’s list.

  4. Use Your Calendar

    Calendars are not just for meetings.

    In the same way I write lists, I also cram my calendar. Set 30-minute meetings for every deadline. Make all day, recurring events to remind yourself of those things that you do daily or weekly. Block out “office time.” If you make time for what you need to get done, you will have very few days where you miss the mark.
  5. Manage Meetings

    Make meetings 45 minutes instead of an hour and always request or have an agenda ready.This one is a biggie and probably the hardest to accomplish. How many meetings have you sat in that start 10 minutes late, do not have an agenda and end with no plans for action? When I receive a meeting request without an agenda, I request one from the meeting organizer. In meetings that I run, I always attach an agenda to the invite.

    Meetings that start on time, have an agenda and call out action items are the most productive.

Your job is demanding, and it should be! It should also be productive and rewarding. Most importantly, you should leave at the end of the day on time without the stress of unfinished work. you use these five tricks, I am certain you will be more productive and less stressed.  

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