You’d like to move into management. You’re bucking for a promotion. You want your boss to know that you’re an up-and-coming achiever. Layoffs are on the horizon and you want to make sure you’re not among the casualties. Increasing your productivity at work pays rich dividends for your career-as the boss who made the hiring, firing, and promotion decisions in my insurance agency, I can tell you about the power of productivity. Here are five ways to do it.
Use your natural biorhythm. If you’re a morning person, do the toughest jobs that require the most mental effort early in the day. Concentrate on jobs with the bangest bang for the buck; if you’re in sales, make those calls while you’re on top of your game and save paperwork for later in the afternoon. If you’re just hitting your stride at 2 p.m., spend your mornings preparing to do your best work later in the day. You get more done when you’re alert, aware, and at your best.
You schmooze you lose? You know the drill. Your coworker wanders over to talk about the playoffs last night. Someone chimes in with a long but very funny story about her experience watching the game. Before you know it, time slips by and you’re behind. Keep your focus and consciously manage the time rather than letting it slip away, no matter how much you enjoy the interruption. This isn’t to say you should never let yourself be interrupted. You’re more productive when you take brief breaks from your work, but always remember that you control your time and your work flow.
Keep the main thing, the main thing. Where do you add value for your employer? This may sound cold, but businesses don’t exist to hire and pay employees. They exist to provide a product or a service. How do you contribute to that mission? Think about it and concentrate on adding value. If you are a salesperson, focus on closing the deal and don’t worry as much about whether to use the blue or green binder for your sales reports. If you’re a manager, concentrate on educating, empowering, and equipping your employees and let someone else worry about the sign on the break-room refrigerator that warns against lunch-poaching.
Set goals for yourself. In a very real way, in today’s economy, you’re working for yourself. True, your paycheck comes from your employer, but you’re ultimately responsible for your work habits and for your own success. Set goals for yourself-short-term goals that help you get your current project completed efficiently and effectively, medium-range goals for projects down the road, and long-term goals for your advancement and continuing growth. Set goals with clear, quantifiable ways to measure success. Write them down, remind yourself of them, work consciously to achieve them.
Plan your work, work your plan. What does your daily to-do list look like? Take time the night before or in the morning to make that to-do list. Include projects that are urgent, make sure you’ve got some time allotted for working on upcoming events, and try to have a cushion for emergencies. It won’t always work out the way you planned, but having a plan means you’re already ahead of the game when you start.
Increasing your productivity at work rewards you richly. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing you’ve met your goals, you’re on track with important projects, and your boss knows you get things done. There’s nothing more helpful to your career than increasing your productivity. Now get to work-and work smart!