Accountant using QuickBooks Enterprise to be more efficient.

5 clever ways to increase your productivity and save time

Wouldn’t it be nice to get an extra hour out of your workday to complete needed tasks? There is an easy fix; just change one habit.

That’s right – make one change and you can increase your daily output, while saving time. It’s easier than you might think. Here are five ideas to get you started:

1. Block time on your calendar for you. One of the most common complaints at any company is how much time people have to spend in meetings. If you’re in an office, chances are you also deal with regular interruptions from colleagues and clients – so how are you supposed to get the time you need for all the items on your plate? 

Start by blocking time for YOU on your calendar.

Maybe, you need two hours to work on a particular project. Then, you need to block two hours on your calendar to work on it. It’s that mental trick – if it’s “on your calendar,” you’ll make time for it. In this case, if it’s on your calendar, you’ll make time for it AND other people won’t be able to schedule over that time (thanks shared calendars)!

For good measure, it’s also smart to turn off the ringer on your phone, send calls to voicemail, and put a note on your door or desk that you’re not available. That way, you’ve got the bases covered.

2. Only ask for the time you need. Sticking with the theme of time, you know how valuable your time is, so remember to be respectful of other people’s time.

We forget that our calendars default to one-hour blocks when an item gets added, making it easy to schedule an hour. You can always end the call early, right? Well, now we each have an hour blocked off on our calendar that isn’t necessary.

Think before you request. Maybe, you truly only need 15 minutes of someone’s time. Then, only ask for 15 minutes, versus booking them for thirty minutes or an hour. This puts everyone in a more efficient mindset because we use the time we “have” on the calendar.  

This is also true in other instances, where you need more time from people. Take kicking off a project with your team, for example. Schedule the time you really need to “kick-off” – even if it’s a half day – and you’ll be saving time in the long run because everyone will have the time they need to be better prepared to execute, since they have the time to get clear on what needs to be done.

3. Don’t depend on email for everything. Email is easy, but it’s certainly not the right tool for every “job,” especially internal communications. Sort of like how texting is only good for directions and confirmations (not conversations). Think about how much time you spend formulating a message to a colleague when you need to catch them up or share something. Or, all of the times you’ve waited for a time sensitive email to be returned with an answer to move on in a project – ugh!

Most people are faster at talking. Picking up the phone, or just walking down the hall and asking the person for an answer, can actually be more efficient. And, now you have one less item in your inbox to take care of.

4. Take regular brain breaks. Most people wrongly assume that staying chained to their desk means they are more productive, when, in reality, your brain is running a marathon, and it’s fatigued, making you less efficient. To avoid this, give your brain a break.

A “brain break” means you put work aside, put your phone down and do something creative. That could be going outside for a short walk, listening to a relaxing song or reading a magazine article. It could even be taking a moment to close your eyes and meditate.

Even if you only have three to five minutes, a break is like alternating between sprinting and walking; it allows you to reset so you have better focus for the periods of time you spend on each task.

5. Stay hydrated throughout the day. You might be wondering what this has to do with workflow or productivity. Well, it’s easy to reach for the coffee (or a snack), especially during that 4 p.m. slump. Chances are, by 5:30 p.m., you drop again. It’s a lot of pressure to try and squeeze all of your work into the periods when you have the “most” energy.

Staying hydrated allows you to accomplish several things:

  • Hydration curbs cravings for salty and sweet snacks (no more guilty snacking).
  • It will likely force you to get up from your desk more for bathroom breaks, which most people dread at the office, but just think of all the steps you’ll get in!
  • Those bathroom visits also give your brain more of those needed breaks (see tip four), and get you up and moving, stretching your body out (bye desk butt).
  • Lastly, you’ll experience less yo-yoing of your energy levels.

Ultimately, with more consistent energy, you’ll perform better throughout the day. Who knew a few more glasses of water could be so helpful?

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