‘Work smarter, not longer.’
This is the attitude more and more employers are adopting as flexible and part-time working becomes increasingly normalised by businesses. There are only so many hours in the day – to avoid taking work home with you, it’s important to be productive in the time you have. In a world of short attention spans and incessant distractions, however, that can be difficult. Here are 10 small ways you can increase your productivity at work and better attain that mythical work/life balance.
1. Document Your Time
Humans’ awareness of time is historically warped. In very few scenarios can we accurately estimate how much time has passed, with our perception able to be distorted by factors such as temperature, season, time of day or emotional state. It’s therefore a great idea to document how much time a day you actually spend on completing certain tasks. Having an objectively clear picture of how your day tends to be spread out will help you better structure your time in the future.
2. Set Deadlines
Now you know where your time is going, try limiting the amount of time you spend on one task. ‘Perfection is the enemy of good,’ so they say. You can always return to an activity and polish it up later. In the meantime, however, it’s a good idea to keep up momentum and move onto a new task when you can – you may be surprised at how much you can achieve if you’re strict with yourself!
3. Hold Standing Meetings
This one may not be for everyone, but the results behind it are interesting. It’s been suggested by research that standing meetings (literally meetings where everyone is standing) are more time efficient and productive. Without seats or tables, there tends to be less territoriality and increased group collaboration, not to mention quicker meeting times. One study found their average meeting length was reduced by 25% when participants were standing throughout.
4. Act, Don’t React
It’s easy to let your day be dictated by phone calls and emails, putting out fires with every response. While this reactionary attitude is a great way to simply ‘cope’, it stops you making headway of your own with projects that require you to be proactive in how you handle them. While it’s difficult to ignore a pop-up notification or a blaring ring tone, carving out time in your schedule when everybody knows not to disturb you, or turn your notifications off.
Many busy leaders tend to believe it’s quicker to complete a task themselves (and definitely get it right first time) rather than explain the task to a co-worker and have them complete it (maybe not quite right first time). This can result in complete overwork on the part of the leader, and perhaps an unhealthy environment of mistrust or micromanagement in the workspace. Instead, consider assigning tasks to colleagues based on their strengths, and take the time to explain to them clearly what exactly you’re looking for from them. You might be pleasantly surprised when they do it as well, or better, than you could!
6. Stay Healthy
One of the most effective ways to increase your productivity is to keep your brain in top shape. Some things you can do to maintain energy levels and sharp thinking are:
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Stay hydrated
- Keep healthy, nutritious snacks in your desk drawer
- Exercise regularly, particularly in your breaks
- Take a full lunch break
- Don’t take work home with you when you can avoid it
Taking breaks to improve productivity sounds somewhat counterintuitive. However, scientists have suggested that taking regular mental rests from work actually makes us more productive in the long run. As University of Illinois psychology professor Alejandro Lleras elaborates:
“Deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused…From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that, when faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task!”
Why not give it a go? Try working in 90-segments with a 10-minute break between each. Really disconnect from your desk during this time – take a walk, get some fresh air. When you return to the problem at hand, you’ll be forced to think about it globally rather than specifically for a few minutes, perhaps enabling you to see solutions and perspectives previously hidden from you.
8. Avoid Multi-tasking
When your to-do list is overwhelmingly long, it can be tempting to hop from task to task, generating an illusion of control for your own benefit. However, studies have consistently suggested that we are most productive when we set our minds to one job at a time. While you might feel you are getting more done while multi-tasking, in reality you are wasting time as you jump between headspaces, losing the clarity that comes with continuous focus.
9. Try Listening to Music
Research suggests that certain types of music at the right time can really boost productivity. There is disagreement as to why exactly this is – some credit the boost in mood, some claim it is the ability to drown out office chatter. Regardless, music can be really useful in helping workers eliminate distractions and power through a task, particularly repetitive ones.
Instrumental music is particularly praised as a focus-tool. The lack of lyrics means it’s hard for you to get distracted by words and meanings, enabling you to dedicate 100% of your concentration to your work. Similarly, the soothing effects of classical musical can help alleviate stress, helping you be more productive.
We all have most productive hours. If you’ve followed our first tip and documented how you spend your work time, you should know what hours those are for you. Therefore, it’s only logical that you should assign yourself your most difficult tasks, and the priorities, in those ultra-productive windows. That way, a task that would otherwise take you an entire morning could theoretically only consume half an afternoon, if that’s how you work.
As most workers grow increasingly unproductive throughout the day, it makes sense to reserve the easiest tasks for the afternoon. You won’t have to channel the same level of energy into these tasks, while also ticking items off your list.
These are just 10 ways you can increase productivity in the workplace. While these are useful tips you can enact in your everyday working life, it’s important to remember that productivity is primarily a state of mind. If you love your job and find your daily workload rewarding, you’ll likely be considerably more productive than someone who does not. If you’re struggling to maintain productivity across the working week, perhaps it’s time to take a step back and assess whether this position is really the right one for you, or perhaps consider that you are suffering from Burnout (just this week classified as a diagnosable illness by WHO).
Posted by Susannah Hunt on 16 July 2019
How To Beat The January Blues
How To Beat The January Blues
Here are small, yet effective, measures you can take to improve your wellbeing in the workplace that can spread into your personal life in a positive, affirming way. Work/Life Balance Sir Ken Robinson noted in his keynote speech at Talent Summit 2018 that, although the invention of emails was promised to save us time, we have since found that, if anything, we are less and less able to leave work behind in the workplace. It is now part of most people’s routines to check their phones first thing in the morning and reply to work-related emails at all hours of the day, always thinking about what needs to be done. It’s important that you ‘work smart, not long.’ This means actively leaving work behind in the office, working efficiently during the day so you don’t feel compelled to continue with it after hours. If the quantity of work you are being expected to complete within working hours is too much to do so successfully, be sure to speak up and discuss the manageability of your workload with your supervisor. Communication is key – they’re going to keep piling on the work as long you stay quiet about how overwhelmed you are, so make sure you speak up and be heard before it becomes too much to handle. Employers won’t know where the pressure lies unless you tell them. If you’re unsure of how much your work life spills over into your personal life, why don’t you try keeping a log for a month? Jot down in a diary how many hours you work every day – not just when you’re sitting at your desk, but when you’re thinking about work at home, composing emails and returning calls out of hours. It may build a more objectively troubling picture than you can see currently from the inside. Make The Most Of Your Breaks Don’t be afraid to make the most of the breaks you are allotted at work. Once you’re on a roll, it’s tempting to power through lunchtime and eat at your desk, one eye always on your computer screen. Try and avoid doing this when you can. Take a walk, practise mindfulness or meditation, experience new places to eat, socialise with co-workers or friends who work nearby. “But I don’t have time to meditate!” I hear you exclaim. Yes, you do! ‘Meditation’ is not always synonymous with pulling on yoga pants, lighting up a stick of incense and adopting the lotus position. You can meditate absolutely anywhere – in a local park, at a café… even sitting at your desk! If you’re not confident leading your own meditation, you can find five-minute guided sessions free online, like this one here. There are also some great customisable apps you can get on your phone, such as Timer and Headspace. It is impossible to overvalue the importance of taking time to relax, clear your head and focus on your own wellbeing. You’ll find this re-energises you for the rest of the day, as well as provide an invaluable opportunity to assess your current state of mind and mentally address any emotional concerns or anxieties. You may also be pleasantly surprised at how easily solutions pop into your head when you take just a few minutes to collect your thoughts. Communication This one works both ways for employers as well as employees. Communication is the key to destigmatising conversations about mental health. In his TEDx talk on workplace mental health, Tom Oxley says ‘you don’t make people unwell by talking about mental health – you give them the opportunity to speak out sooner’. There’s a flawed unspoken terror that speaking out about mental illness will somehow worsen the problem, as if it’s contagious or seem as if you conjured it up into existence within your own mind. The reality is that many sufferers don’t feel able to speak up due to the prejudice surrounding mental health, and the fear that their workplace would not be supportive of them if they did so. The best way an employer can foster an atmosphere of positivity, health and wellbeing is to ensure that their workers know that they are free to talk openly about any feelings of stress, anxiety or depression and won’t face indirect penalisation for doing so. The first reaction of many employers is to offer a struggling staff member limited time off to recover, then expect them to return to work and continue as usual. While time off may be a solution for some employees, bosses should also consider the advantages of offering flexible working hours to affected workers. Tom Oxley strongly advocates for good communication practices between employers and employees to ensure that no one ever feels alienated from their place of work, and that anxieties don’t build up over time into uncontrollable crises. In turn, employees should communicate to their employers about their feelings on mental health in the workplace, as far as they feel comfortable to do so. Being transparent about how you’re feeling and what you need from your job to help you recover will give your boss the tools to help you in the way that’s most beneficial for you. If you are worried that taking time off would only serve to isolate you from the company, voice that concern. Your employer should want to get the very best out of you – they hired you for a reason. It’s in their interest to give you the support you need. Create a Healthy Routine Studies have consistently proven a strong link between mental health and physical health, and specialists are adamant that one of the best ways to maintain good mental wellbeing is to look after your physical welfare. Your job can be intellectually demanding, with long hours and difficult tasks taking a toll on your mental health. Your job is also more than likely sedentary. Indeed, scientists have connected the rise in global obesity to the increasing number of jobs that don’t require any form of physical activity. It can be hard to find the time to exercise during a busy work week, but it’s important you look after your body – the injection of endorphins from exercising can only beneficially impact your mental wellbeing. Take a stroll during your lunchbreak, do 30 mins of yoga before work, or even try training for a half marathon over the course of a few months. The same can be said for your diet, avoid that pastry to go with your coffee and instead be sure to stock up your desk drawer with nutritious snacks rather than sugary ones, such as nuts, fruit and protein bars. Snacknation has published an extensive list of delicious office snack ideas if you’re dry on inspiration. These are just a few ways you can work to improve your mental wellbeing in the workplace, which will in turn hopefully boost your productivity, energy happiness and eliminate the possibility of coming down with the January blues. While mental health is something we can’t always necessarily control, we can impact the way in which we talk about it, breaking down the harmful social barriers that currently ruin constructive discussions on preventative measures.
How to Organise Yourself in 2020
How to Organise Yourself in 2020
A new year is a time for new beginnings and fresh starts. Are you back in work this week with the best of intentions to start on the right foot, but you're finding it hard to get started? We have made a list of things to help you start your new year by being more organised and help you to have a very productive 2020. Start Your Day Right If you're overrun with many different tasks at the one time and find it difficult to know how to structure your day in the most productive way possible, don't worry, you're not alone. A simple solution is to try coming into work 10 - 15 minutes before you are due to start and use that time to make sure your desk is tidy and you lay out all the tasks you need done on that day and during the week in a notebook or use an online tool such as Google Tasks or Google Calendar. Write a list of what you need to do today and a list of the deadlines you have for the week. Taking the time to do this in the morning before emails start flying in and your phone is going off will start you off on a productive path and it should help to keep you on that path throughout the day. Prioritise Once you know what you want or need done in your day/week, the next step is to learn what tasks are the most important. One of the key elements to being organised is being able to prioritise the important stuff and know what needs your time first. A handy way to decide this is by using the below table. For every task you need to complete, you should evaluate each one by placing it in the below table. You should never have more than two priorities that fall in the box of ‘urgent and important’. The rest fall under the other categories of ‘important and not urgent’, ‘urgent but not important’ and ‘not urgent and not important’. Always structure your time around the urgent and important things. This short film about prioritising might inspire you... Ask For Help Most days you will handle your workload just fine on your own, but every now and then when you see your to-do list is particularly long, sometimes the best (and only) way to get things done is to ask a colleague for help. If you have too many urgent and important items on your to-do list, you should go to your boss to look at delegating some of your workload or see if some deadlines can be adjusted. Missing a deadline is much worse than letting someone know in advance that you need some help to get something done. Being organised doesn't mean you must manage everything yourself, it's being able to look at your workload and know how it will be done and when it will be done. Being organised is a skill, but it is one we can all learn very easily. Setting aside time every day to get organised is half the battle. Why not start this year by settng your new years resolution to give yourself time every day to get organised and prioritise? You'll see it makes all the difference to your day!
Hoping To Get A New Job in 2020? Here Are 5 Tips To Help You With Your Search
Hoping To Get A New Job in 2020? Here Are 5 Tips To Help You With Your Search
Searching for jobs is a job in itself. It can be challenging and time consuming but there are ways of making this task a little easier. If you are planning on finding a new job, Sigmar Recruitment has devised a list of top 5 job searching tips to help you in your pursuit of the perfect job this new year. Get Employers to Come to You Uploading your CV online can increase your chances of being seen by employers. Most job searching websites like; Jobs.ie and Monster.ie allow job seekers to create an online profile using their CV content. This profile can then be viewed by potential employers. There is also an option, when you create your account, to highlight specific jobs and organisations you’re interested in and receive email notifications when positions become available. This is handy for any job seeker as it does the hard work for you and allows suitable job opportunities to come directly to you. Update your LinkedIn Profile The first thing you should do before applying for a job is ensure your LinkedIn profile is up to date with all your relevant work experience. Often employers will search for you online while reviewing your CV. It’s important to make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date as it could be the reason you get called for an interview. Extra Tip: If you are unemployed and don’t have an issue with making your employment status public, you may want to update your LinkedIn profile headline to something like, “Currently seeking (insert type of role here) in (insert location here)”. This will let your network know that you are currently job seeking Target the Right Companies It’s important to know what type of company you are looking for. This all comes down to your personal preference. Knowing what you want will make it easier. Would you rather be; “a big fish in a little pond” or “a little fish in a big pond”? By eliminating the type of companies you don’t want in your search, you will narrow down the available jobs suited to you. Extra Tip: If you know of a company you think you would like to work for, search for reviews of the company online. Glassdoor.com lets you search millions of reviews of companies that are all posted anonymously by employees. This is a great way to get an honest appraisal of organisations you’re considering applying to. Network Use the contacts you have to enquire about available jobs and get the word out that you’re looking for a new position. Often jobs can be found through people we know so it’s a good idea to get in touch with any relevant contacts you may have. Building on your current network can also give you an advantage in your job search. Attending conferences and job expos are a great way to network and find out about career opportunities. Be Positive Finding the perfect job isn’t easy and may take time. As rejections start coming in, it’s important to always try to stay positive. It’s only natural for you to feel deflated when things aren’t going according to plan but try to use the rejection as a motivation to work harder. The right job is out there for you and you will find it if you stay persistent and optimistic. Don’t have the time to job search? If you find yourself not being able to find the time to search for jobs properly, you can contact us in Sigmar Recruitment. You can upload your details and CV to our website and create an online profile that will be accessed by our specialist recruitment consultants to review your details and contact you with potential job opportunities.
6 Job-Hunting Tips – Your Game Plan To Get Your Next Job
6 Job-Hunting Tips – Your Game Plan To Get Your Next Job
The search for a new job is rarely an easy task. It takes time, commitment and hard work, but most importantly, you need a Game Plan. 1. Be Clear On What You Want To Do Before you jump online and start applying for every role you find in a generic search, first think about what you actually want to do and search for this or related roles instead. This will stop you applying for roles just for the sake of it and will make you focus your job search on a more well defined area that is likely to be more closely related to your skill set, experience and interests. 2. Read the Job Spec Often a candidate will apply to a role because they think they might be able to do the job (even though they’ve never actually done it before) or because they might hold one out of the four required skills. This is not enough. If a job spec lists a skill/ability/qualification as being required, it is hugely important that you actually hold this required specification. These specs are carefully and thoughtfully designed to give you an idea as to whether or not you are suited to this role. If you think you are able for a position but unsure whether to apply, simply pick up the phone to the advertiser/recruiter and ask the question. It never hurts to try. 3. Set Up a LinkedIn Profile Anyone who is serious about securing a new role should have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile set up. LinkedIn is your opportunity to network, to connect with recruiter(s) and follow companies of interest to you, giving you a front row seat to all updates from both recruiters and companies on new roles. Not only this, but when looking to fill new roles, hiring managers and recruiters will often search LinkedIn for specific skills, experience or job titles in the hunt for new candidates and talent for ready to fill roles – if you’re on LinkedIn with the required talents and an up to date CV, you’re going to be found. Keep active on LinkedIn too as the more activity on your page, the more traffic you attract. Be sure you’re constantly updating your page with relevant dates, new skills and new qualifications – I mean what’s the point in having them if you’re not going to show them off? 4. Expect Follow Up – Be Available Always be sure when you’re putting your contact details on your CV, that you are in fact contactable! There is no point in including your email address if you’re not checking your emails regularly. Similarly, if you are including a telephone number, make sure you can actually take calls. If you’re going to focus your energy on a job hunt, you need to be able to make a little time to discuss it too. Of course, understandably every now and then you will miss a call, so it’s important to make sure you have voicemail set up (which you check) and that you return your missed calls. Failing to follow up on missed calls not only means you might have just missed out on a great opportunity, but it could also make you look like you’re not taking this job search seriously and may deter the person who is looking to fill this role from reaching out to you in the future. 5. Keep Track of Applications When applying for a number of roles at once, I would suggest keeping track of the roles you’ve applied to. Whether this is in a small notepad and you’re jotting down the Job Title, Duties and Experience, or a more sophisticated spreadsheet (for the super organised), it will allow you to recall which roles to follow up on, or will refresh your memory on a particular role when the hiring manager or recruiter calls to discuss your application. It should also prompt you towards what questions to ask so you can get as much out of the conversation as possible too – letting them know what you want and why you’re interested in this role. 6. Be Patient The main thing to remember though is to be both realistic and patient with yourself (and the process). Your ideal role won’t always present itself immediately so give yourself time to find it. There’s no point in settling for the wrong role right now…wait for what you want and it’s usually worth it.