How to Become More Productive at Work

Have you ever wondered why there are some employees who accomplish a lot more than their peers on a daily basis when everyone is given the same 9 hours (or 8 hours because of the 1-hour unpaid lunch break)?

Have you thought why there are some people who deliver results everyday and not just when a deadline is assigned to their tasks or in certain days of the week?

Have you started to ponder on why your co-employees advance in their job way ahead of anybody else or get promoted faster and earlier?

Well, the answers all lead to the fact that they are simply more productive.  It is actually a no-brainer or is it?

Being more productive may look and sound easy to say or do.  But the truth is, not a lot of people know and understand what it truly means and how it is applied at work.

Wikipedia defines Productivity as a measure of the efficiency of production; a ratio of production output to what is required to produce it (inputs) while Merriam-Webster Online says that it is the state or the quality of being productive and being such is being effective in yielding results, benefits, or profits.  This author, deriving it from the meanings of both sources, define productivity or being productive as PRODUCT + ACTIVITY meaning being able to come up with a product (result, benefit, or profit) as a result of an activity or activities with maximization of time and resources and done with the least time, money, and effort.

Now, it becomes clear what being productive is all about.  However, the answer that we have to arrive at in this article is, “How to become more productive at work”.  The thing is, being able to accomplish something work-related in the office or being able to consistently deliver routine work or work that you are supposed to bring to the table everyday is yes, being productive but definitely not being more productive.  Why? because you are just doing what’s routine meaning things that you are really expected to do and not something “additional” that the organization will benefit from too.  You are just meeting expectations and showing what are expected of you.

Below are some tips that will help you become more productive at work and accomplish a lot more than what you think you are capable of:

1.  Have a break only when it is really break time.

This is very basic.  The concern with most professionals at work nowadays is they take their break more than what they are allowed to. For example, they know that there is only one unpaid 1-hour meal break and two 15-minute miscellaneous breaks (depending on what industry you work in or the culture or practice/s the company got used to or promotes to its employees) but they take a break every now and then.  Think about it.  What they could have done or accomplished during the time that they were still supposed to be working or serving the company was/were wasted in spending time with unnecessary breaks frequently. I know, at this point, you may want to ask me.  “So, are you saying that we are not allowed to leave our work station in special cases in which we have to wash our face or smoke our lungs out to shake sleepiness away or maybe to take it easy for some moments just to breathe in fresh air to socialize at work? Or, to have a temporary escape from all the pressure of work?

Very good question.  These are actually exceptions.  Matter of fact, it is highly suggested that when you are sleepy or feel pressured, go ahead and walk around to shake sleepiness off or to wash it away in the restroom. Or, so as not to make your life boring at work, it is encouraged that you strike up a conversation with your colleagues or laugh with them in jokes every so often.  That takes out the stress that you are feeling and that makes you enjoy every bit that you are staying for at work.  Hence it feels like it is not work at all; that it is like your second home.  Therefore, not getting burned out.  But do not overdo it.  Never abuse it. Regulate it.  Still, the company is paying you for your services and to do something work-related and the time that you spend in unnecessary chit-chats and frequent smoking at the designated areas could have been devoted to coming up with innovations and the like.

2.  Over and above the ‘routine’, think or do something new or additional.

Not because you get to accomplish what is expected of you on a daily basis you are already ‘more productive’.  Being as such lies is introducing something new or extra.  It could be a new or an improved process, a solution to a problem or difficulty, a resolution to a challenge, an answer to a long-time-unanswerable question, addressing of a concern, or fixing of an issue.

But of course, you do not proceed to these initiatives unless your daily deliverables are ‘delivered’.  First things first, as they say. But, at a point that you are running out of something to do, then you think of many available and workable ways to work on the aforementioned although there are cases in which you have to ask for your supervisor’s permission first or you have to discuss them with him/her first to check if it is something you are authorized to do or tackle or if the level you are on or your designation even permits it. Anyhow, below are ways by which you can be more productive in this regard:

  • Be extremely observant.  Creativity and Innovation will not come to you.  They will not just appear out of nowhere.  You have to get to them yourself.  You have to find them, explore them, discover them.  As mentioned on the first paragraph of this tip, look around you or ask people and decide on which needs-improvement process, ongoing problem or difficulty, head-scratching challenge, tricky question, bothering concern, or business-harmful issues you can do something about;
  • Have a burning passion and a concerned desire first to be able to even propose or think of one.  If you are not really into what you are thinking of or if you believe you can not commit to it, then better not do it at all.  Otherwise, you will end up failing or not being able to finish anything at all;
  • You need to put yourself in both your internal and external customers’ shoes.  Even looking into what you can do for your peers or what you can help them with to assist them with their personal or departmental concerns and challenges will work wonders.  If there is nothing left to be done anymore, then go ahead and help your teammates or better yet, ask them how you can be of help before you assist them.  (You do not want them to think that you are meddling with their responsibilities. Do you?)  What other professionals do when there is nothing left to be busy with is they either sleep on company time (or in the sleeping quarters), go outside to smoke, or start chatting with their co-workers, or watch TV at the pantry while munching on something.  Or worse, when their office is situated near a mall or grocery stores, they go there to window-shop, just to walk around, or to buy food from.  Believe me, this truly happens in reality and yes, on company time!  Especially when there is STARBUCKS around.  And, you know what I mean.
  • Check and critique your own department’s processes, documentations, trackers, and activities.  Based on both your internal and external customers’ feedback and your own team’s challenges, difficulties, and concerns; take it from there.  Improve what needs to be enhanced.  Solve what has to be resolved.  Change what has to be revised. Remove what must be taken out.  Repackage what may be modified.  And, address what has to be taken care of.  This way, aside from what’s “routine”, you take the initiative to be more productive with what can be done to better the way things are done or how your department goes about things.

3.  Evaluate your and your department’s quality of work or its completeness, accuracy, and integrity.

If worse comes to worst that no matter how many times you wrack up your brain, still, nothing comes out or it is not really your cup of tea to innovate; you can just at least make sure that the routine work that you have finished was presented in its 100% quality state.  What do I mean by this?  Make sure that the data you encode on your tracker, database, application, system, tool, or program (however it is called in your respective industries) is complete, accurate, and correct.  Proofread everything, even grammar and spelling.  Review their corresponding presentations and formatting and ensure that if they are not the best form that they could be in/on, then improve them, reformat them, repackage them.  Moreover, check your departments’ processes; methods and procedures; and statements.  If there is any provision, clause, or whatnot that is not detailed, questionable, has loopholes, or hardly clear enough, then take the initiative to revise it.  Make sure you save it as another copy though so you can show it to your boss first to get approval.

You see? although it is much better, you need not to be a child prodigy or an exceptionally-creative and critical thinker just so you could be more productive at work.  All you need to do is to guarantee yourself that the work you show or demo to your colleagues, especially your immediate superior, is world-class; quality; and worth praising.

4. You can keep yourself more productive with a ‘Dirty Job”.

Looking for something else which can keep you going?  Then, be your own team’s janitor or company aide (I believe the latter is a better way of calling it).  This is the ‘dirty job’ I am referring to.  Dirty, it certainly is but staying busy with something is absolutely being more productive.  When you believe you are not talented enough to be creative or to innovate something or you are tremendously confident that there is nothing that needs to be corrected, changed, or revised on your work, or work has been done; then you could help the team or your boss by organizing stuff (files, even soft copies,  and office supplies) around.  By doing this, the office remains looking like a genuine office and your teammates will not have a hard time knowing where to look for anything.  Below are different things that you could contribute to keep your office room as tidy as it can be:

  • Take a great look at the file boxes.  Are they where they should be put?  Are they labeled accordingly?  Are they within anyone’s reach?  You might have to move them around or change their captions just to make sure that they are organized.  But of course, make sure to notify your teammates and your boss of the changes you are going to make first to check if they would approve of it.  If they will not, at least you made a move that will certainly come across that you have the concern for the team and for the cleanliness of your workplace and that you are making an effort to remain busy and ‘more productive’.
  • Although there is really a scheduled day or period within which the entire department or a designated person on your team orders additional supplies or a replenishment of them, it will be more helpful if you become proactive and relay to the one who is monitoring the inventory or the specific individual who is purchasing supplies those ones that the group is already running out of or what additional supplies can be ordered next dependent on the forecasted needs.
  • Coordinate with your company’s Building Administration department right away especially when the water dispenser is almost empty, when the trash bins are already full, or when there is clutter on the floor that needs to be swept away.  Once again, being proactive makes not only you but the rest of the people you are working with as well more efficient and effective as they are working in a setting that is clean, clutter-free, convenient, and conducive to productivity.
  • Propose organization of your department’s folders in the shared drive if folders do not look categorized or if some files are not where they are supposed to be.  Also, especially when your organization is ISO-certified and has some file naming/renaming conventions that the team needs to conform to, then this is really a must.  What is more beautiful is that you are the first to do it, suggest it, or bring it to the concerned or authorized people’s attention.

5.  Observe to ‘Level Up’ and to ‘Get Ready for Near-Future Advancements’.

One of the best ways to keep yourself more productive is when you are not doing anything anymore and believe you have already accomplished everything for the day, then devote a time for yourself when you can observe or shadow the more tenured or the more ‘expert’ colleagues on your team and of course, your own supervisor.

It has been proven and tested, time and time again, that those who emulate their bosses; who learn a thing or two from them; observe what they are doing, how they manage everyone on the team, how they think, how they make sound decisions, how they talk, how they walk, how they speak with clients, etc. can better follow in the footsteps.

Albeit, this does not mean that what is being encouraged or promoted here is being a carbon copy or a copy cat of your boss.  It is just  that people mutually learn from one another and what is learned from other people merged with individual/personal communication, leadership, working, and thinking styles is what makes one a better and more productive worker or manager/leader in the future.

Therefore, as you are impressing your boss with being more productive, you get to prepare and train yourself for future leadership roles at the same time while being on stand-by for it.  Isn’t that great?

Now, do you still wonder why some professionals accomplish definitely much more than their colleagues on a daily basis?  Why there are those people who deliver plenty better results almost everyday and not just when a special task is assigned to them or they are chasing a deadline that has to be met?  Why your workmates that you either started with at the same time or got hired before got promoted way ahead of you?

Think again.  Try doing these constantly everyday and wait for results.  Don’t be surprised if one of these days, your boss sets up a meeting/coaching session with you to commend you for a fantastic job or to let you know that you are next in line for a well-deserved promotion. 🙂

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If you are interested in inviting the expert, Myron Sta. Ana (the Next Big Thing in Corporate, Communications, Leadership, Personal Branding and Excellence, and Motivational/Inspirational Training and Consultancy) in your school or organization to talk about this topic and a lot more, just email him @ Myron.S.Sta.Ana@hotmail.com / Myronosophies@hotmail.com or text/call him at 0927-351-9391 / 368-3214.

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