Improving workplace productivity tips

Improving workplace productivity is a never-ending mission for companies of all sizes, across every industry. Even the most well-oiled business machine always has room for improvement, especially as technology continues its relentless advance.

Here are some easy ways – and several not-so-easy ways – to improve your productivity and make the most out of your workday.

Improving workplace productivity by leaving the workplace

Cloud collaboration and the proliferation of mobile devices are making it easier than ever to work anytime from any place. If you’re in a job that isn’t tethered to a 9-to-5 mindset, take advantage and don’t be afraid to ask your manager about working remotely or changing your schedule. This isn’t a one-way employer-to-employee favor; companies are realizing that it’s smart business to play to the strengths and preferences of the individual.

Don’t mistake quantity of work for quality of work

We all love crossing items off a to-do list, but don’t fall into the trap of always biting off the low-hanging fruit at the expense of larger projects that are left until the last minute. With that said, if it takes you a while to ease into the workday (or for the coffee to kick in), it’s probably best to knock out a few of the “easy” tasks first, like wading through your inbox.

Stop multitasking

OK, don’t stop multitasking – but do less of it. Sometimes we think – or, worse, executives think – that if everyone could just do more, we’d be improving workplace productivity. The problem is that almost no one multitasks as well as they think they do; in fact, multitasking often results in a substantial drop in productivity levels. Focus and finish, then move on.

Say “No” sometimes

Related to multitasking: don’t spread yourself too thin. Don’t turn a major plus – your willingness to pitch in and help – into a minus by over-volunteering to take ownership.

Get your tasks out of your inbox

If you’re still managing tasks primarily through, say, Outlook, you’re the workplace productivity equivalent of the guy bringing a Discman to the gym. There’s a better way; in fact, there are lots of better ways. Too much business email is a productivity killer; on average, email costs workers an hour of lost time every day.

Call fewer meetings, then run smarter meetings

Go in with a clear (and shared) agenda, leave with takeaways and make sure you have someone who keeps the conversation on track. Unnecessary meetings can be a serious drain on both productivity and morale. Now that it’s so easy for departments to shake out of their silos by using collaboration tools and adopting a more transparent philosophy, it may be time to rethink some of the “check-ins” and “status updates” on your calendar.

Don’t get sucked into the social media vortex

Social media makes a tempting scapegoat for productivity problems in the office, but overdosing on Facebook or Instagram is really a symptom of a larger disease (those same people were presumably finding other ways to distract themselves a few years ago). If you have fallen victim to the FOMO plague, though, you want to put yourself on a social media diet. You don’t need to quit cold turkey, but set aside times to snack.

Important note: email can be just as deadly of a productivity vortex. One of the most important keys to improving workplace productivity is to isolate your most common sources of distraction.

Treat yourself and take breaks

On a related note: don’t feel bad about bribing yourself sometimes. Whether your idea of a blissful 15-minute break from work involves Facebook or a walk into the great outdoors, it’s important to step away from your desk sometimes. And, yes, to step away from work altogether; I found myself “taking a break” one day by walking around the block with my phone in my face, responding to a few work emails. In the long run, that’s not a recipe for productivity. The same holds true for checking your email first thing or last thing in bed every day.

Use your sick days

It may seem like a small point, but “bravely” coming into the office when you’re hacking up a lung can have a serious domino effect on your company’s productivity.

Redesign your office

Maybe you don’t have the money for Herman Miller chairs all across the office, but even on a shoestring budget, you can take steps to encourage collaboration and create a more inviting and more productive workplace. Think outside the cube while making sure you still give space for people who prefer working more privately; don’t overcompensate by going from one extreme (dark rows of cubicles) to another extreme (everyone working side-by-side on a blanket outside).

Find a hobby

Once you’re committed to improving workplace productivity, you’ll always find opportunities to impact your workday – even when you’re not at work. People with a healthy work-life balance – and outlets and passions outside of their work life – are routinely more productive than their peers. Vince Lombardi loved to read cookbooks and clean closets – two activities not normally associated with football. But having those tension-relieving interests made him a more focused coach when it was time to hit the film room. Everything is connected.

Post by Adam McKibbin

Adam McKibbin is the content marketing manager for iMeet Central. His writing has been featured in Adweek, the Chicago Tribune and The Nation, and he’s produced content for some of the leading tech brands on the Fortune 500.