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How do you increase productivity at work?

Set aside time to focus. Harris Oliner
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Justin’s Answer

I have found that the first step to increasing your productivity all begins with organization and planning. Once you have a mental map of your day and the objectives you need to achieve, it makes it possible to increase your (and members of your team) productivity. Some key points that can help you and the team you will manage:

-Keep a running list of the day's goals, mark them off as they are completed
-Know your work calendar and understand what meetings you have the next day(s)
-Plan ahead and block your calendar for personal work time around those future events
-Leave some space in your day/week for the unplanned meeting or training
-(This one is VERY Important) Excessive meetings, calls, and discussion will limit daily/weekly productivity - Do not be afraid to decline or reschedule non-essential meetings/calls. You won't be able to reschedule them all, but the key is to focus on your deliverable and ensure that your schedule accommodates what you need to achieve a high quality work product.

Once you have your work day planned out, it is about breaking large tasks into smaller tasks until completion. There is no one solution to the productivity question as there are an infinite number of factors that can hinder or support your efforts. The best possible solution is the one that works for you, and is repeatable. Over your career you will find that you've used several methods depending on the job, task, and work environment.


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Gavin’s Answer

The key to productivity is prioritizing your workload. Planning your tasks based on their priority each day or each week will lead to increased productivity. Some helpful examples are:

- If you are having issues with managing your time and productivity a suggestion would be to classify your emails or tasks based on their priority so you can mange them in a more productive way. For example you could classify the tasks as "A", "B" or "C" tasks and give each a higher level of priority.

- Try not to get bogged down on one priority task if you are facing challenges. It is important to take a step back at times and just refresh. Maybe even go a tackle some of the smaller tasks while you think about what is needed for the more important tasks.

- It is also a good idea to ring fence your time. If you have deadlines coming up make sure to block book time in your calendar so you can focus and it will act as a reminder. Be selfish with your time and focus on priorities.

All in all, planning is key and it is a must when looking to increase productivity
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Iona’s Answer

Hi Quiana,

Being productive at work especially during the pandemic was initially very challenging for me and this is how I went about my day.
I spend 30-40 minutes planning my next day’s work before I sleep so that I don’t get overwhelmed with the next day's tasks.
During the early days of my career, I was introduced to a Matrix to categorize my day’s work which has been super helpful to me and I use it till date. It’s called the Urgent v/s Important matrix.
You draw a square on a sheet of paper and divide it into 4 pieces. The X-axis needs to have 2 fields called Urgent and Not urgent. The Y-axis has fields called Important and Not Important. Based on your tasks, you can just sort it accordingly and see which piece it fits.
The tasks that fall under the Important and Urgent quadrant, I do them immediately by setting the deadline. Then I move on to the not important and urgent quadrant and see if this is something that can be delegated or I’ll have to revisit this later. Then I move on to the next quadrant which is important but not urgent and get it resolved. I find it very rare that my tasks fall under the Not Important and Not Urgent quadrant(perhaps I’ll need to work on this!)
I follow the same matrix for my daily chores too. Other things that I personally found helpful were taking breaks frequently while working, staying hydrated, alternating 1-hour every day to exercising/hobbies, updating my skills relevant to my job by taking up courses, staying up to date on business updates.
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Ross’s Answer

Do Your Heavy Lifting When You're at Your Best
Stop Multitasking
Prepare a To-Do List Each Night
Cut Down Your To-Do List
Delegate Properly
Eliminate Distractions
Plan Phone Calls
Break up Work Periods With Exercise
Be Optimistic
Get Enough Sleep
Take Care of Yourself

More info at https://www.thebalancesmb.com/top-ways-to-increase-productivity-2948669
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Will’s Answer

Hi Quiana,

Here's my approach:

Steps:
1. Learn your business/work and digital/technology skills
2. Breakdown business processes into sub-processes
3. Evaluate the efforts of digitization and possible business value-added on each sub-process
4. Apply digital skills to automate the low-hanging fruit (low efforts and high business value-added sub-process) or at least partially
5. Repeat 1 - 4 with an infinite learning mindset

Outside the loop, you might also want to explore mature platform-level solutions to streamline your business processes. The gained experience from steps above will position you well in a business liaison role for high-profile digital transformation which is storming almost all industries.

Good luck!
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Sarah’s Answer

This is a great question especially if you are in a finance career path.

I have found that creating a to do list helps me with my production. I write down everything i need to get done for either the day or the week and then number them in the order of importance that I need to get them done in.

Also listening to music helps me keep my mind centered so that i can stay on task.

Just find things that help you concentrate and keep you on track
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Katie’s Answer

Hi Quiana - I find that it's helpful to block an hour of time each day (either in the morning, around lunch hour, or at the end of the day) to catch up on emails and other administrative tasks. It's important to have some time without meetings or other interruptions so that you can stay on track with work priorities.
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Bradley’s Answer

Hi Quiana,

This is a subject that every professional has dealt with throughout their career. I have found that setting goals both on a day to day basis, as well as a long term basis has helped productivity.

Also, trying to cut out any types of distractions during your designated working time. You should take a few minutes every hour to breathe and maybe talk to your coworkers. Other than that, it works best to be completely focused.

Hope this helps!
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Lindsey’s Answer

I think this can vary from person to person so I would encourage you to try out the advice others have given and keep what works for you. For me personally, I make a list each week of what I need to accomplish and prioritize. As new things come up, I add them to the list. It helps keep me on task and focusing on the things that are important.
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Kavyashree’s Answer

Hi Quiana,

This is an interesting question and everyone has their own way of being productive at work. You cannot implement others rule to your own work life unless you have figured out what works best for you. From my personal experience, below is what I have listed. I hope this helps for you.

First and foremost essence of productivity I realized is to encourage self care. No matter what job role you are in, if you're physically and mentally good, half of your productivity is in place. You'll be active and energetic through out your day.

Next is how you manage stress at work. When one is stressed, your productivity is hampered. There will be a point where work load is exhausting, or may be that one day or the week is hectic. Please remember that you're not alone. These challenges are faced by many. As you climb up the ladder, the workload increases. It's all about how you categories your work.

Never adapt to being stressed in order to reach your goal. I sacrificed my health in order to meet my daily targets. I did well in terms of productivity but I lost my health. Later on I was not able to perform well due to health reasons, this developed stress and work kept piling. One fine day, I sat down and figured out how I could overcome and did a reverse mapping on my daily work. I realized, health and stress management was a main factor. Then I started focusing on these two and eventually I got back on track.

While workload and a hectic day is temporary, if you cannot manage stress, it would not only hamper your productivity but also your health. As a saying goes "If health is lost, everything is lost".

Apart from this, to increase your productivity at work, again there are many ways; few that I follow are listed below. Please note these are my general tips I follow and I would not be able to specify what best practices would work for you in productivity as that depends on the type of work you're into. I'm sure everyone's productivity lies on your company standards and what I follow for work may not work for you.
So below are the ones that anyone can follow no matter what is your job role.

1. I ensure my work place is neat everyday. So when I see my workspace, I feel good to start my day. You will feel positive through out the day at your desk. Hence it is necessary to have a positive work environment.
2. I take regular short breaks to calm or freshen up myself. Constant eye on screen and posture adds up stress on my body. Also it will deviate you from concentrating at work. I try to take walk breaks as well within my home (WORK-FROM-HOME) and try to rethink about my whole work structure during walks.
3. Be proactive about what you need to get your work done. I talk to my manager or the person I report to. I ensure to discuss about my work/productivity and be transparent with them. This way my manager will share some tips or best practices that helps at my work.
4. I'm a social butterfly. I engage my self in many social activities which promotes confidence and knowledge and many more the way your take it up.
5. Adding up to all, time management is a must. It is not rocket science. You need to prioritize which work or task is important and take one step at a time. If there are clashes at prioritizing the work, don't panic, just keep the person in charge to that task informed about the delays. It's simple.

Remember, life is easy. It's just the rules that makes it complicated. All you need to know is take one step at a time and you are there at your set goal.
I hope these tips find useful to you and all the best for your future.
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Eric’s Answer

Time management skills are extremely important when trying to increase your productivity. This can be helpful with completing tasks on time. Having strong organizational skills also contribute to productivity. I would highly suggest creating a "to-do list" each day and cross off the tasks as you complete them. Good luck!
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Keith’s Answer

Like many of the previous answers - productivity at work our anywhere else is based on some key factors. The first is focus - whatever task you are doing make that the only task. It allows you to get into the grove and work more productive. Second in bunching - group similar tasks together to gain efficiencies of scale - keep the groove on. Third is prioritize - which are the tasks or items that are most important and when are they do. Now Prioritization has to be number 1, but I listed as third is the first two are essential to think about when prioritizing.
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A’s Answer

For me, I like listening to music to help increase productivity. Most of the music is "lofi" which doesn't have any words, so I'm only listening to instrumentals. I also like listening to piano jazz because I am not focused on the lyrics, and it helps me focus on my work. I can work for hours by just putting on my headphones which helps me focus.
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Katherine’s Answer

Organization is key. I keep a running to-do list and review it first thing every morning. I use my calendar to block off time for certain tasks. I also put reminders in my calendar to follow up with colleagues, schedule meetings, or reach out to clients. I've found it most helpful to put reminders and tasks in my calendar so I can manage time around previously scheduled meetings. By using one device (calendar), things are less likely to fall through the cracks!
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Jeff’s Answer

Many of these answers are filled with insightful color. Having process in place is key, but also ensuring that the culture the team works in is strong is enormous. People work more efficiently when they enjoy what they are doing and like the atmosphere, the team, the firm, their purpose, etc. When I think about driving more productivity I think about identifying ways to improve culture, make sure the team feels their comments/feedback are heard and acted on (not all the time but some times). Cheers.
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Briana’s Answer

I have found tackling the biggest items on your list during your most productive time of day is the best. For most people that's in the morning, but maybe for you, you feel most re-charged after a lunch break.

I also highly recommend setting distinct times to do a task or work on a task and implementing 5-10 min breaks in between.

Make a list. If you write it down it will happen.
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Amira’s Answer

I believe organization is key for being productive, including having a clean workspace. Also, what helps me is either night before or first thing in the morning I create a daily to-do list and mark tasks off as I complete them. To create my to-do lists I review my calendar and deadlines to prioritize what tasks need to be complete.
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Megan’s Answer

Quiana - The most successful way for me to be productive at work is to plan. This takes time! Set time aside (30 min - 1 hour) each day if possible for the following:
- Your schedule
- Create a list of Action Items / To Dos
- Plan and prep for upcoming meetings
- Accomplish work tasks
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Jim’s Answer

Hello Quiana - Good question and I see you had some good advice already. First I would suggest you separate productivity from having an impact. I find sitting down and writing out the list of things in my space is a good initial step. I then add to it the things I think I should be doing that hasnt come up yet. Then I go item by item and place them in order from most impact to least. Start at the top the next morning and run.
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Rick’s Answer

The best way to be productive at work is to plan and avoid distractions. I find that I have better focus and comprehension first thing in the morning as I am drinking my coffee. I save the harder work for the first two hours of the day where I have more control over my schedule. As the day progresses, I have meetings and phones calls later in the day when I don't need the strong ability to focus.
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Swati’s Answer

Lots of great tips on this post already! Here is what I do to stay productive:
- Create a to-do list, everyday, by project. I also ensure that I understand the urgency of each task. Once the task is done, I mark is as complete and move on. It is very easy to forget small tasks, and even easier to forget what you did the previous day. These daily to-do lists have been very helpful for me.
- Track what my team is doing as well (as a manager this is important) so I can follow-up with them on status. This also helps me understand how much free time they have.
- Track any external/internal follow ups so I do not forget to schedule meetings or send emails.
- Block working time on my calendar, so I don't always have back-to-back calls
- Put my phone on Do not Disturb mode during the day, so I am not distracted by irrelevant notifications.
- Take frequent breaks to stretch and do something non-work related.
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Gayatri’s Answer

Hi There!
Adopting simple practices and keeping things simple has helped me to improve my productivity at work. There are some great tips shared by our various friends on this post but I would like to share some of the common tips that helped me get through most of my work day productively and produce quality results:
1. Trust the small increments. You can’t expect to change years of working habits overnight. Small changes in how you work can gradually add up to big changes in productivity. Try one tip to start, and keep adding more as you find the strategies that work best for you.
2. Keeping a physical journal. Probably it is still me living in the pen and paper days but I love to check things off my journal once they are complete and that small happiness boosts my spirits to improve my productivity in a way.
3. Having sufficient sleep the night before. This is a no-brainer but a good sleep leads to a brilliant start of the day and nothing rocks like the beautiful start to the day
Take Short Breaks. Taking a short break during working hours increases focus and concentration. After taking a 10-minute break, you can resume your work with more energy and motivation.
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Seisimo’s Answer

Hi Quiana,

This is a great question and the fact that you are thinking about this question at this stage in your academic career shows that you are already ahead of the field! After working remote for over a year, it is evident that business leaders nation wide are less concerned about employee's strict 9-5 work schedules, and more concerned about productivity. So how can we increase productivity in the office, at home or in modern hybrid work environments? Well, my number one tip, contrary to popular belief: stop multitasking. Its often quite tempting to take on multiple tasks/projects at one time, however you will discover that you will be more efficient completing one task at a time and will also produce a higher level/quality of work. Hope that helps!
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neil’s Answer

wow, what a great question...
and as you can see from some of the equally great answers you've rec'd above it can be very personal.

I NEED to be organized, i need to know what i have in front of me to do during a day/week/month etc.
I love lists - i get great satisfaction in crossing off completed tasks from my list.
I am not necessarily an organized individual, but i've had to work very hard at it through out my career....and as simple as it sounds i build out my lists.
I also try extremely hard to never miss deadlines...and to do this its obviously important to know the deadline. Again, it may sound simple but when im given a task I ALWAYS ask when its due & plan accordingly. This will also allow you to prioritize your work load.
I also give and ask for updates. So if i have a task due to someone i like to provide them with an update of timelines etc...and the same when im awaiting something from someone, i ask for updates.

It all sounds very straightforward & can be a good base...but we all know that with most jobs/positions/careers there will be the "unexpected" that ends up in your lap. I believe that you cant plan for the unexpected...but as silly as it sounds expect the unexpected, dont stress it...re-evaluate your situation, re-organize & re-prioritize.

Great Question, Good Luck
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Paul’s Answer

The short answer is to prioritize. There are very detailed time management models but they all boil down to the same basic idea. From the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey, I picked up a simple yet effective way of classifying daily activities, including longer term objectives, projects, short term tasks and other to-do's, including non-work related items. By using Importance and Urgency as criteria to classify each activity, you are able to determine the most sensible order and the amount of time spent on each activity and meet all deadlines. Feel good activities are also appropriate during the day as a scheduled break from work and stress.
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David’s Answer

I think this will vary from person to person and I would suggest trying out different methods until you find what works for you. Personally, I find myself to be the most productive when I have goals in place. I would suggest making a list of short term and long term goals. This goal setting technique will ensure you are always striding towards something and keeps you from feeling stagnant. The goals can be as specific or broad as you want but ultimately it is important to write them down every single day and ensure you are keeping up with them.
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Shanta’s Answer

Great question! Here are some of the ways I've noticed increased productivity:
- setting out a list or plan of certain tasks or items you want to achieve throughout the day. Keep it visible where you can glance throughout to see how you're tracking on achieving them. I love writing things in a notepad (oldschool) it gives more power to the words you've written yourself!
- take breaks in between meetings! (Some meetings could even be taken on a walk) to help clear your mind and leave you refreshed to tackle tasks afterwards
- Take a step back (ties in with the second) to tackle a problem with a new lens, sometimes focusing on one thing for too long can make you lose focus of something important. Try to switch in between tasks
- Ask for help when you need it! More hands/minds are better than one for more project-focused work.
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Yumi’s Answer

I ask myself when I face many things to do at work - categorize them into below categories and tackle them by the priority:
- Important and urgent
- Important but not urgent
- Urgent but not important
- Not urgent nor important

Hope this helps.
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Mohamed’s Answer

I read a lot of good detailed answers to your question. I want to add that a recent book I read gave me an advice that has to do more about managing people around you and limiting their intrusions on your schedule than what you could do on your own. The simple advice is to learn to say "No", say no to anything that doesn't fit your priorities or would add more burden than you can handle.

Good luck!
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Paul’s Answer

Being able to properly prioritize tasks and duties will allow employees to complete the most important items.
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Jacob’s Answer

Increasing productivity at work has been something that I've been struggling with myself since I've been working from home for almost 2 years at this point. One easy way to increase productivity is to limit distractions while you're working. Lately, I've been setting my phone on "do not disturb" so that the notifications I receive throughout the day don't distract me from my work. Picking up your phone throughout the day even for just a few minutes each time can really add up and take away productive time for work.

Another simple way of increasing work productivity is creating to do lists with weekly, monthly, or ad hoc tasks that one needs to complete. By having a to do list that is always up to date, it allows for one to stay focused on what needs to be completed. From personal experience, I didn't use a to do list early in my career so I would find myself wasting time by thinking of what needs to be done. By creating a to do list and keeping it up to date, I'm able to spend more of my time on work that needs to be completed.

From a more technical perspective since the question seems to be related to accounting and finance, a great way to increase productivity in the accounting and finance fields is becoming well versed in Microsoft Excel. Being able to use complicated formulas and work with large data sets effectively will cut down time spent in creating Excel models and can even automate routine reports.
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Debbie’s Answer

There are only so many hours in a day. So when I need to increase productivity and there just isn't the time or additional resources to help I look at what I am already doing. I review all that I do (daily, weekly, monthly, etc) to figure out what is a "nice to have" versus what is a "need to have". For those that are a nice to have you then figure out which of those you can stop doing. It is just another way to prioritize and then something low ends up dropping off. Another approach I have is to review the time I put into something. There are times (with some tasks) that you don't want to let perfection get in the way of good enough. Meaning not everything has to be perfect. Accurate yes, but the amount of time spent making something perfect needs to be weighed out against the benefits of that item as well as that time use on another task.
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Jerome’s Answer

Lots of great tips and advice on this post already. Here are my thoughts:
Productivity starts with time management and organization
* Have a clear understanding of the various tasks that need to be completed, along with their respective deadlines. This will enable you to prioritize your responsibilities. I tend to tackle the most urgent/time-consuming tasks first.
*Establish a network of colleagues/peers across different areas of focus, so that you have resources to efficiently tackle projects that may fall outside of your immediate scope
*Create time in your schedule to think "big picture." To elaborate further, sometimes we can get so caught up in the small details and processes of a task that we forget to think about the purpose of whatever it is we are doing. Taking a step back to just think may open opportunities to reevaluate, adjust and find other ways to improve productivity
*During the pandemic, I've also found 5-minute breaks to be super helpful with my own productivity. Quick walks outside heave helped me to re-energize and prevent burnout.


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Kristina’s Answer

There are some great responses on this chain with many ideas. Although everyone is different, I hope you are able to find some tips and tricks through these responses that work for you. I figured I would add some input as well. For me, there are a few different focus areas that impact my productivity:

1) Organization - I keep a planner with detailed to-do lists. I make sure it is clear what I need to get done in a particular day, and what I want to get done if I have the time. I list out what meetings I have on my calendar and try to estimate when I will be able to work on each of my other tasks throughout the day. I like to plan this out ahead of time and build on it as items come up. I find it much easier to stay on task and meet my deadlines when I have them planned out like this.

2) Dealing with day-to-day changes - Throughout the day, it is normal for people to reach out asking you to do different things. You will also get emails that require your attention as well as meeting invitations. It is important to take a moment to prioritize once these come in. Sometimes they may be urgent, but many times they can wait until you finish what you are working on. I try to finish one project before moving on whenever possible, but it is important to communicate this. For example, if someone asks me to do something that is not particularly urgent I might tell them I am wrapping something up and will do it later that afternoon, or something along those lines. Jumping around from one thing to another can make it difficult to complete tasks in a timely manner. Therefore, I factor them into my planner based on urgency.

3) Taking breaks - It is important to factor breaks into your work day. For most people, productivity declines over time if you do not stop to take a break. Some people like to take fewer longer breaks, while others take more small breaks throughout the day. I like to get up and move a little every couple hours or if I find myself struggling to stay focused. It might be a short walk or just getting up to make a cup of coffee. Afterwards I notice my productivity drastically improves once I resume my work.
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Retika’s Answer

We need to understand our organization and our role requirement in it.

Few points here :

Accept Changes
Learn to Delegate work
Appreciate people and learn from them
Teamwork is key skill.
Take breaks
Talk to people outside your department.
Set realistic goals
Ask questions and be a very patient listener.
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