Four Ways to Increase Productivity at Work
You can increase productivity by working smarter and not harder.
The truth is that productivity only accounts for about three hours per day or 40% of your workweek.
Many workers are very busy. So what is taking up our time and reducing our productivity?
Email and meetings are the main culprits. Reading and responding to emails takes up about 30% of your workweek. However, there’s also time for catching up with coworkers, checking social media and grabbing coffee and snacks in the breakroom.
We don’t recommend that you forgo your Monday morning catch ups with your work buddy or decline to attend your team’s coffee outings. These are important aspects of building social capital, which is vital for high-performing teams.
There are steps you can take to increase productivity and regain some of the 60% lost to “busyness”.
This article will highlight four ways that project management (PM) tools can be used to make your work more productive.
Four ways to improve your work performance
1. Timebox your work in 90-minute sessions
Timeboxing is a top productivity tip. But, few people are taught how to do it. This technique involves limiting the time you spend on a task and scheduling it. Then, you can focus on only that task for that period (more in tip three). This means that you can’t multitask!
This method allows you to plan your work over an eight-hour workday. It’s something that a to-do-list doesn’t do. Timeboxing is a visual representation of what you can accomplish in a given time period. It helps you prioritize tasks and keeps track of what you have been doing.
Your digital work calendar can be used to organize your day and block off time for specific tasks.
SPICA (Source), Time boxing example
How PM software can help
Harvard Business Review states that timeboxing your work in your PM tool on a shared calendar benefits you and your colleagues in several ways.
You can also download our time boxing template if you prefer to write down your tasks.
You can timebox using our template or a digital calendar. Plan work in 90-minute segments and then take a break. Your ultradian rhythm will be negatively affected if you push yourself to complete a task that takes more than 90 minutes. This is the time when productivity is at its peak. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to productivity levels!
2. Work in progress should be limited
According to the American Institute of Stress research, more than 80% of employees feel stressed at their job and cite excessive workloads. Work overload is when the time required to complete daily tasks exceeds the hours available in a given day. This can lead to poor work life balance, burnout, or low employee morale.
What causes overload? It’s usually a combination of factors like the number of open tasks, the variability of tasks, and high resource utilization. These three factors influence how long it takes to complete tasks in a queue.
What is high resource utilization? It is the amount of work that employees are required to do. It is important to find the right balance in order to sustain productivity. Too high utilization can lead to burnout and a loss of productivity. You might end up boring your employees if you expect too low a rate.
Robert Handler, Gartner analyst, says that 70% to 80% utilization is the sweet spot for increasing productivity. Employers should encourage employees to set realistic goals and achieve 70% to 80% of their maximum output to maximize productivity. Once this number exceeds 80%, wait times will increase exponentially.