Top 11 Rules For Productivity in the Office. How To Become the Top Performer as a White-Collar Employee?
Productivity in the Office: Do You Need To Step Up Your Game?
Are you an office, white-collar employee who tends to feel exhausted, overwhelmed, or unproductive at work? Well, it might be nothing else than a form of impostor syndrome . Perhaps you are much more capable and productive than you think!
Anyway, it can always get even better! So, how to quickly improve your productivity when working in the office? No — drinking more and more coffee is certainly not the answer you are looking for! Coffee dehydrates your body more than anything else and it only makes your body operate “on debit” before it has to eventually pay back.
As a rule of thumb, productivity is not about using sophisticated hacks but rather, organizing your daily routine in a functional way, and implementing decision making rules that save you lots of time and frustration. In this article, we introduce 11 REAL tricks for how to boost your productivity when working in the office — right here, right now. Some of them are backed by science, and some are backed by common sense only!
1. Try To Negotiate a Hybrid Working Scheme.
Today, the expectations of employees substantially changed compared to the situation before the corona crisis. According to Forbes , hybrid work has become the favorite employment model for professionals worldwide, as it perfectly balances the human necessity to be around people with the time necessary for deep work, self-reflection, self-care, and relaxation. No wonder most employers agree to hybrid working schemes — in order to attract the best employees, they basically have no choice!
Needless to say, a hybrid working scheme would save you a lot of time, as it limits the necessity to commute. You could spend that time doing sports, meditating, or recharging in any other constructive way, instead of squeezing into an uncomfortable bus seat or biking in the rain. Of course, not every organization has incorporated hybrid working schemes just yet, but it doesn’t hurt asking!
2. Automatize Your Mornings.
Have you ever felt that despite a good sleep, you come to the office wasted every day? Perhaps it has to do with the way you spend your mornings. Decision-making engages almost the whole brain , from cortical to subcortical areas, and costs the brain A LOT of energy.
This is why many successful people, such as or Mark Zuckerberg , are known for notoriously automatizing all their morning decisions, including the garderobe. Most busy people develop a morning routine and dogmatically stick to it to reduce the brain capacity needed to leave home in the morning, prepared for work. They save all their brain power for the office. So, it is worth making sure that you don’t need to make any spurious decisions such as “what for breakfast today?” before showing up in the office.
3. Show Up On Time.
Yes, many employers offer flexibility when it comes to working hours. But that doesn’t mean that you need to exploit this freedom to the absolute maximum. When coming to the office regularly at the same time every day, you will be much more consistent and productive in the long term.
Furthermore, being predictable with your schedule and showing up on the same time every day will also score you points in your employer’s books. What today’s value the most is integrity — which is nothing else than sticking to your personal rules and values (which can differ from the company’s values).
Employers wish to know what they can expect from you, when, how, and why. Therefore, if your manager knows for a fact that they can find you by your workstation in the same time slots every day, they will value your consistency. You can find more information about the concept of integrity in today’s professional world in our article “ Why Is It Good To Have Integrity in Your Professional Life and Why Do Employers Seek Integrity? .”
4. Organize Your Workstation.
How often do you review your own workstation? Most probably, you have the freedom to arrange your own desk just like most employees. But how would you describe your desk? Is it cozy? Clean? Welcoming? Or perhaps, it’s a mess? Ask yourself a simple question: would I like my good friend or a family member to sit here and work? Or would I start cleaning this pig house as soon as I see them at the door?
You need to organize your workstation in a way that work is convenient and that you don’t have too many distractors. Make sure that your desk is clean and not overloaded with materials/items. Also, make sure that you have easy access to water — if there is no tap or coffee machine in the nearby hood, bring a thermos or refillable bottle to the office.
5. Big and Uncomfortable Tasks First!
You might have heard the phrase “ Eat That Frog! “ It comes from the famous book by Brian Tracy under the same title. Eating frogs in the office setting means: prioritizing hard and uncomfortable tasks over the easy and pleasant ones — as a method of combating procrastination. The concept is: that once you are done with the hard task, everything else becomes peanuts, so you’ll do it in no time!
6. One Task At a Time.
In the office, the work atmosphere is often hectic. You might be thinking that you must juggle 15 tasks at a time to survive. But the more you try to fill in everybody else’s expectations, the more likely you will fail. The truth is: that we operate sequentially. The human mind can only focus on one task at a time. Period. If people expect you to do more, just say “no” and politely explain why.
7. The “Two-Minute” Rule.
Having that said, sometimes it is good to take an unexpected task onto your plate. As wonderfully explained in the New Your Times’ bestselling book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones,” this is true for tasks which — by eye-gazing — can take two minutes or less.
Taking these tasks off the to-do list as quickly as possible will effectively prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by the bare length of your to-do list. Of course, if the task is too massive to wrap up in two minutes, it must take a seat on your to-do list!
8. Delegate Tasks Whenever You Can.
The fact that you are not a Manager, doesn’t mean that you cannot delegate your tasks to someone else! If you feel that another team member is more suited for the task than you or if you are simply overwhelmed, just talk to the Team Leader. Asking to delegate tasks will be taken as much more professional than overpromising and underdelivering.
9. Make Best Out Of Your Meetings At Work.
According to Forbes, unproductive meetings are often the biggest productivity killers at work! Famously, some of the most successful people in the world like Elon Musk or Mark Cuban, hate and avoid meetings at work. Others, like Jeff Bezos, developed strategies to avoid unproductive meetings, such as limiting themselves to small meetings only (also known as the “two-pizza rule”).
Therefore, question the purpose of meetings on a regular basis! Work is a zero-sum game and obviously, the more time you spend on the meetings, the less time you have on doing the actual work. Some ideas for how to improve on your experience with meetings at work:
💡Try to schedule your meetings beyond your most productive hours if possible.
💡Make sure that there is a clear GOAL for the meeting and an agenda for every meeting as well as a person assigned to take notes and produce the minutes with actionable points after the meeting.
💡Make sure that there is a time cap on the meetings, such as one hour.
💡Booking meeting rooms per hour, as that presses the team to finish in time.
💡Standing meetings tend to be most productive — if everyone is standing by a table, the meeting members tend to be more vigilant and active.
10. Finish Tasks With Grace.
Don’t cry over yourself, when it comes to staying in the office for longer and finishing a task 30 minutes over working hours or so. Unfinished tasks always stress you out and eat your working memory.
It is always better to get rid of them as soon as possible, even at the cost of putting down additional time once in a while. This will allow you to forget about work and completely clean your mind while shutting the office door behind you. Plus, usually, you can claim your time back on another working day.
11. Plan For Regular Vacations.
You need to reset your brain on a regular basis, just like any other electric machine. And, we all have our personal preferences for how much work we can effectively handle without a vacation break. Perhaps what you got in your employment contract, is just not enough? Instead of 20 days, do you perhaps need 30 to function properly?
For some people, 20–25 paid vacation days per year are perfectly enough to rest and keep on working at a consistent pace, while for others, it is not enough time. Therefore, if your contract doesn’t fulfill your personal needs for a recharge, think of taking unpaid time away from the office. Perhaps it is worth sacrificing a few thousand dollars per year to keep the job you enjoy AND take proper breaks that your body needs. And perhaps, this sacrifice is only an investment in becoming a more efficient and better-paid employee down the line.
Bonus Tip: Search For Independent Reasons For Leaking Energy in the Office
Sometimes, you feel that you do everything right: you are determined, self-disciplined, and enthusiastic about what you do. And yet, you feel like a decompressing balloon every time you walk into the office. Why? There might be independent reasons that you need to actively tackle. To name just two possibilities:
a) Bad quality drinking water. If the local water has a pH lower than about 7.4, it is more acidic than human blood. This means that your body needs to take away its own minerals to mix them with water before they can enter your cardiovascular system and mix with your blood. Drinking this sort of water, you will always stay tired no matter what as it literally drains you. So, test the water pH! Perhaps you need to start using filters or boiling water before drinking for this purpose.
b) Gaslighter in your team. Gaslighting is a malicious practice that makes you question your own reality and competencies in the workplace. Since it is less pronounced and visible than open mobbing, it often goes unnoticed and unpunished, although it often leads to burnout, depression, and sometimes even suicide. If you have a toxic person around you who cuts your wings on every occasion, no wonder you have no energy at work! For more information and tips on how to handle gaslighters, please check our article “How To Recognize and Handle Gaslighting At Work.”
Conclusion: How To Achieve Proper Productivity in the Office?
As you might see, there are tons of strategies you might try to improve your productivity in the office. The bottom line is that we are all imperfect, we have faulty minds, and we should forgive ourselves for our own suboptimal work patterns. Do you know other strategies to level up your productivity as a white-collar employee? Please share with us in the comments below!
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