New Year’s Resolutions are not only for reducing waist linesâ€¦they can also include reducing wasted time with better planning for productive workdays. Productive people appear to complete tasks with little effort and have a way of making it look so easy. But don’t be fooled. While they may be the envy of all in the office you can be sure that they have a secret weapon – it’s called planning ahead. Here’s a few simple tips that can go a long way towards increasing your productivity this year.
Beginning of the Day
- To start your day, always clearly define your high priority projects and goals by writing them down AND communicating with your co-workers. When the inevitable interruptions begin to creep up, refer back to the priority list and stay focused.
- If the projects you are working on will require information, opinions or signatures from others, be sure you know their schedule too at the beginning of the day. There’s nothing worse than working on a deadline project, only to find out that those you need input from have a full afternoon schedule and are unavailable.
- Surround yourself with what’s important. It is estimated we use 20 percent of our supplies 80 percent of the time. After reviewing what’s currently sitting on your desk, only keep out the supplies that are used on a daily or weekly basis. For example, that pile of software discs, the three-hole punch or that rolodex you no longer use probably don’t need to be within arm’s reach.
- Invest in your equipment. For a small fee you can increase productivity in a big way by freeing up your hands with the use of a corded or wireless phone headset. Look for features such as mute, volume control and noise cancelling.
- Standardize the purchase of office supplies, bringing efficiency and organization to your department. If you are responsible for ordering those coveted office supplies, create and post a list of supplies by category, near or in the supply cabinet. Attach a pen or highlighter, making it easy for others to note items that are running low or out of stock
- Ever find yourself too busy to take the time to file something so you just engage in the “filing by piling” method? To avoid slipping into this chaos-creating habit, keep a supply of 5-10 hanging files in the front of your closest filing cabinet or drawer. This way you’ll always have what you need at your fingertips without the need to go hunting down the right supplies.
- Managing project files are part of every job. And depending upon your personal preferences, you’ve got several choices when it comes to the type of project folder that works best for you as well as howyou want to keep track of them. Besides the traditional manila file folder, project folder options include Poly File Folders, Classification folders, and even Pocket Project Organizers.
If you prefer a visual approach to keeping your project folders close by, regardless of the type of project folder you choose, you’ll benefit from using one of these three methods in organizing the projects currently sitting on your desk:
- Incline Sorter-Safely stores files upright at an angle, allowing you to see at-a-glance the names of your projects.
- Literature Sorter – Perfect for the individual who insists on keeping files horizontally. Look for a sorter with 8-12 compartments and is wider than it is tall.
- Open File Box – designed with rails to support hanging files, this is a great tool in storing several project files on your desk in a vertical fashion.
- Block off your calendar for projects requiring 2+ hours. In your mind this solidifies the importance and priority a project has in your day and will insure time to see it to completion.
- If you work on projects with specific timelines such as new product launches, use a laminated wall calendar displaying three, six or twelve months showing what is being worked on and when. This visual tool can be taken to team meetings to show current status/progress and is easily accessed by others when hung in your department.
- If you have an Administrative Assistant who has access to your calendar, work together to define clear guidelines regarding the types of changes he/she can make on your behalf. Accepting meeting invitations, updating agendas or color-coding appointments may all represent things that will help you improve your productivity.
End of the Day
- Leave about 10-15 minutes to prepare for the next day. Review tomorrow’s calendar, making a mental note of meetings, especially early morning appointments.
- Tidy up your work area, putting away files and projects and clearing out your Inbox of as many emails as possible. The less clutter you have facing you in the morning, the better you’ll feel about returning.
- According to a study conducted by the University of Arizona the typical desk surface has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. So on occasion, use a cleaning wipe to remove dirt, germs and grime on surfaces such as phone receivers, desk surfaces, filing cabinets and book shelves.
The areas outlined in this article all represent little things that can add up to make a big impact on how you get through your workday. Picking out the right office supply, creating an effective process or developing a routine that works will all help you to become highly productive and the envy of others in your office.