For years I worked outside the home, then after having kids I was lucky enough to be a work at home mom, and now I’m a proud stay at home mom. Despite the fact I’m a perfectionist and there is always room for improvements, I am constantly doing something – working on a project, taking on tasks, and moving along through life like the wind. However, sometimes I feel I work more at home than I did in the workforce, yet I still feel I never get enough done.
The recent “Productivity in the Workplace” study commissioned by Fellowes found respondents feel the key to productivity is making adjustments within the existing workday versus working more hours. Employees in the workforce are working an average of 44 hours per week, of which only 29 were considered to be productive, according to a new survey of 1,200 full time office workers. Chatty coworkers top the list of productivity killers, with unnecessary meetings, cell phone disruptions and problems with office equipment also on the list. Respondents identify productivity boosters as cutting back on meetings, having more quiet spaces to work, schedule flexibility and more up-to-date technology.
And that’s just in the workforce. Moms face daily setbacks with household chores, school meetings, club activites, cooking dinner, entertaining, etc. among other motherhood and wife duties. When do we ever have time to get anything completely done?
In my latest discussion with Laura Stack, also known as “The Productivity Pro,” she travels the country helping organizations of every size improve their employee and team productivity.
Whether you’re a working woman, a work at home mom, or a stay at home mom, if you feel like you’re working more, but getting less done, you’re not alone. Here are 9 tips Laura suggests can keep us all productive and on task.
1. Give disruptions the boot. Resist the urge to constantly check email and turn off email notifications. Put your cell phone on airplane mode, instant messaging on Do Not Disturb, and let calls go to voice-mail.
2. Speak up. Need something new in the office to help your coworkers and you stay more productive? It never hurts to ask. Office equipment, like printers and shredders, are now being made with advanced technologies that can make your job easier and help you get back to work.
3. Cut down on meetings. Ask yourself if you really need to have a meeting. Can you cover agenda items via email? Cancel meetings if face time isn’t imperative and give colleagues more time to get their jobs done. Also, try to schedule one day a week on your calendar that is meeting-free.
4. Don’t multi-task, single-task. Most of the time we are swarmed with things to do in the office. Between meetings, paperwork, customers, and more, it can become overwhelming. When you do have a meeting or a task to complete, make sure you are 100 percent focused. You don’t want to miss crucial updates and next steps on projects, it will only hurt your productivity later on. Make yourself completely aware of what you are doing IN THAT MOMENT.
5. Practice “on, in, around, or shred.” Eighty-eight percent of people use paper in the office. Keep items you work with daily on your desk, those you work with weekly in your desk drawers, and those you work with monthly around your desk, in archives, or filing cabin Use an automatic shredder for everything else, like Fellowes’ line of AutoMax shredders, which shred up to 500 sheets of paper at a time with the simple touch of a button -which helps avoid disruptions.
6. Break it down. If you have trouble getting started with a big task, break it into smaller chunks. Ask yourself, “What is the next action step I need to take to see progress on this project?” Then set a timer, leap into action, and focus on the next step.
7. Vary activities. For mental and physical alertness, vary sitting activities with standing ones, mental activities with physical ones. It will help prevent fatigue and keep your efficiency high.
8. Put some fun into your work. Turn boring tasks into a game. Make a deal with yourself that when you complete the activity, you will do something fun afterward – like taking a walk or having a piece of chocolate. By creating internal enthusiasm, you can stay focused longer.
9. Change of scenery. Try to work in a different setting once a week. Whether you work from home, the library, or a nearby park, new surroundings can inspire ideas and give you the energy you need to tackle your to-do list.