Ways to stay productive at work

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Have you found yourself screaming TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday) but struggling to get yourself out of bed and dreading the Monday morning workload a few days later?

Are you often caught in the middle of the battle between “Me time” and “Work time”? That is being tempted to occasionally pick up the phone to post a tweet, check out a post or send a hello to colleague which later evolves into an hour long conversation.

Do you feel like you are beginning to slack six (6) weeks into your new job and having a situation, where you have to navigate through what seemingly looks like a landmine to meet your job targets?

If you find yourself in any of these categories, here are some ways to ensure you always stay productive at the workplace:

  • Start the night before

Before the Monday morning rush hour begins, borrow some time for yourself the night before in order to ensure that you are fully prepared for the start of the working week.

Use the night before to plan your activities for the week. Take stock of what you will need for the first day of the working week, and if possible, plan out your journey. It might surprise you that a simple tasks like choosing an outfit to iron on a Monday morning can become stressful, when you are doing it at 7am.

Doing all of these will ensure that you are going to retire to bed and knowing that you can get a good night’s sleep – which is absolutely vital in guaranteeing that you wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the first working day of the week.

  • Make it a point to always get to work early

Punctuality is the key to making a good impression from the get-go. If you happen to work in any major city in Ghana, especially Accra, it is always imperative to get to work early. If you doubt me, try getting to work at a place like East Legon or Spintex after 7am.

Getting to work early does not only ensure that you beat the thick traffic, which usually welcomes commuters on a Monday but also affords you time to relax and plan your work routine before you start the day.

  • Prioritize your tasks

There is a saying that those who fail to plan to fail. I also believe that those who fail to priorities at work, plan to be unproductive.

In order to be productive at work, it is always vital to create a to-do list; with the most important stuff first, and set deadlines for yourself. This could be done in a diary, note pad or if you happen to work a lot from your computer like I do, you can use the virtual sticky pad.

Adopting this approach and an organised plan for the day ensures that you are able to work from a stress-free point of view, and having the knowledge that the most pressing tasks are going to be out of the way first.

  • Hit the ground running

You have had a good and long respite from work and once you get to work on Monday, the normal routine would be to chit chat with colleagues about how their weekend went. Ever found yourself using the first few hours of your Monday to do this? Don’t worry. You are not alone. Most of us are guilty of this.

It is often said that how you begin anything is essential. So how you start your first working day of the week should always matter. Though often seen as a busy day, the truth is that also comes with some energy, which must be harnessed to get the best out of the day. For instance, if you have a major task to undertake, just get on with it straightaway and achieve some success early in the week.

As Charles Darwin rightly puts it, “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” Don’t waste time once you get to work. Get busy.

  • Don’t get distracted

Between 8am to 5pm, we are all at some point bound to get distracted at work. These distractions come in the form of either trying to juggle competing tasks, answering tweets and chats, moving to another department to chit chat, etc. Notwithstanding these “necessary evils”, it’s always best to focus on completing your current task before moving onto anything else.

The secret is for you to stick to your to-do list, and not allow distractions get the better of you. Once you are side-tracked by one thing, it could lead to another, and then another; until you remember that work is piling up, you are not meeting deadlines or can’t even remember what you were doing in the first place.

Make a change, stop wasting your time playing Candy Crush, Zuma, Tetris or that game on your phone or PC. At the workplace, you need to stay motivated, and so keep your attention fixed on completing task(s) at hand.

  • Don’t take on more than you can chew

The last thing you want to do is to be tagged as the person who doesn’t get things done. You will only end up taking a lot of flak from your supervisor or in a worst case scenario, lose your job.

The truth is that employers these days are looking for people who can get the job done no matter what. Thus, if something is militating against your performance or side-tracking you from completing a project or task, tell whoever needs to know at the earliest opportunity? Once you are honest and direct about it, you might be able to get the desired assistance.

Furthermore, if there is the need to delegate or rope in others to help with the task, call on them for assistance. Don’t try being a Superhero at work place. Be a Team player.

  •  Ask questions

You have been given a task. You wanted to impress your boss, so didn’t care to ask the relevant question(s). Thirty (30) minutes into it, you have no idea how to go about it. That attitude, my friend, will always delay you and make you unproductive. To be productive, you have to be ready to be inquisitive, share your opinions, and don’t always accept a yes/no answer.

Asking questions is the best way to make sure your job is done to the highest standard possible, and getting answers also ensures that you know everything there is to know about it. The quality of your work isn’t worth compromising on just because you avoided asking for someone’s advice.

And you know how the saying goes: a curious person is an interested person.

  • Keep meetings short

For those who are involved in meetings a lot of the time, I will advise that you set an agenda, cover the main points, and share actions afterwards. If this is done, it gives the meeting a sense of direction and from dragging on for too long, and wasting time on unnecessary small talk.

So plan wisely, finish meeting on time and use the time you’ve saved on more productive tasks.

  • Regular breaks = Staying productive

Sometimes your body needs a time out to be able to work at its best. Thus, it is always essential to take time for regular breaks – even if it’s just standing up and having a stretch.

If your job involves sitting down all day, make sure you’re moving around regularly to avoid any awkward muscle cramps – and to stay alert. On the other hand, if you’re always standing, have regular sitting down breaks to rest your legs.

For those who sit behind computer screens, it is always advisable to give yourself occasional breaks. Lest I forget, remember to stay hydrated because this will help boost your productivity.

Jide Otoki