In almost every work environment, office productivity is of key importance, and with good reason. After all, with only so many hours in any given day, it’s essential that you make the most of the time you have available. In our experience, there are only two sure-fire ways to increase your output at work. You can work longer hours, or you can work smarter.
With the following list of ten ways to improve office productivity, we hope to be able to pass on a couple of hints and tips to you all that will have you producing more work with less effort.
1. Keep track of time
It may surprise you to learn that you’re not as good at estimating the length of a given task as you think you are. None of us are. Studies suggest that less than a quarter of people are able to do this seemingly simple thing, with most of us vastly overestimating our office productivity. This is why something you’re sure is just a half-hour job takes up half the morning. Why not try a time-measuring application like Rescue Time? You log in and out of it at the start and end of each new task, and it compiles a realistic time-portrait of how much you dedicate to each aspect of your job throughout the day.
2. Take a break
Taking time away from your work sounds like the exact opposite of achieving greater office productivity, but bear with us. Evidence has shown that our performance at any task that drags on for longer than 60-90 minutes will show a steady decline throughout. By taking the occasional break (no more than a couple of minutes) you can maintain your performance for the duration of the task in hand.
3. Set your own deadlines
It is the nature of any workplace that most deadlines will be set by somebody higher up the management chain. Naturally, we do our best to meet those targets as best we can. But what about more open-ended goals? Breaking a larger project into a series of smaller, more manageable deadlines has been proven to work wonders for productivity, even when we set those deadlines ourselves.
4. Remember the two-minute rule
Have you got something on your desk that will only take a moment or two to clear? Then why is it still on your desk? Noted entrepreneur Steve Olenski has recommended using even the smallest window of time to get rid of these simple tasks from your to-do list. Whether it’s responding to an email, uploading a document to a group folder, or booking a conference room for a project meeting, the next time you have two minutes to spare, put them to good use.
5. Remember to say no
While it’s important to be a part of your project or workgroup, unless you’re the lead, it’s unlikely that every single decision will require your input. When you receive an open invitation to a project meeting, you may choose to attend without questioning it, only to complain about the wasted time you could have spent more profitably elsewhere. Pick and choose your meetings with care, attending those where your presence will actually have an impact, and politely decline the others.
6. Mix up your meetings
Speaking of meetings, why not conduct them over video-conferencing software or Skype? These sorts of meetings are often shorter and offer more office productivity, because everyone is acutely aware that they have other matters within their eyeline, pressing for their attention.
7. Be single-minded
For years, multi-tasking has been lauded as a valuable works skill, but recent studies suggest the opposite. Juggling four or five different tasks can often result in none of them being completed (or, at least, not to acceptable standards). Instead, prioritize your tasks and work through them in order.
8. Set a schedule and stick to it
Sometimes it can feel as though all you’re doing is putting out fires and getting no further along in terms of your existing work. With phone calls and emails demanding your attention, it’s easy to slip into a habit of being reactive, rather than proactive. Instead, allocate a portion of your time each day for responding to other people’s missives (allowing some flexibility for emergencies, of course) and let them fall into your inbox and/or voicemail.
9. Enjoy the view
Eternity trapped in a soulless cubicle isn’t going to do much for your productivity. However, studies have shown that have something to break the visual monotony can improve office productivity by as much as 15%. It can be a photo of your loved ones, a potted plant on your desk, a favorite piece of art, or even a bowl of potpourri – anything that puts a smile on your face when you glance in its direction.
10. Embrace productivity technology
These days, powerful devices designed to improve your office productivity beyond all measure, tend to come in small packages. The Scanmarker is but one example of this, but perhaps the most versatile. About the size of a large pen (think of a bingo marker, and you’d be in the right ballpark), the ScanMarker can fit in any bag or purse as well as most pockets. It’s a true handheld device and a powerful tool for improving your office productivity.
At its heart, the Scanmarker is a mobile scanner but, in truth, it is so much more than that. It is an OCR reader (OCR standing for Optical Character Recognition). By running the nib of the device (actually a miniature scanning panel) over a line of printed text, it can recognize writing in a variety of languages and prepare it for you as digital text. This text can then be manipulated and utilized in a variety of ways. Do you get reports from overseas colleagues in a foreign language? The Scanmarker will translate them for you. Need to quickly compile pertinent data from multiple sources in time for a shareholder’s meeting? Scanmarker will allow you to scan and paste separate lines as quickly as it takes to drag the device across them. You can use the text in all manner of applications, bringing speed and efficiency to virtually every office task.
For more information about the Scanmarker and the Scanmarker Air, or to order your own state-of-the-art office productivity tool, buy one now.