Be More Productive at Work

By Shafir Ahmad

Q.  Help! I’m falling behind at the office. Between all the meetings, phone calls and emails, I just can’t seem to get everything done. How can I finish all my work without staying late every day?

A. Most of us are eager to give of ourselves and then give some more. Whether it’s giving advice to coworkers or just saying yes to every request that comes our way, what happens with all this giving is you become so buried under a mountain of responsibilities that work can suffer. Let’s look at six ways to become efficient.

1.  Schedule your day.
If you have to, get up an hour early each day and write out your plan for the day. Then prioritize each task on your list and put it in order of priority. Schedule what you need to do into a planning sheet and block out time to get it accomplished. Do this every single day, even on the weekends.

2.  Stop trying to multi-task.
Turn off the e-mail notification function on your computer. E-mail kills your concentration and makes you lose focus on what you were doing. Don’t get sidelined by interruptions. If you are trying to finish a report for an important client or meeting, don’t accept a request from a drop-in visitor who “just has a quick question.”

3.  Learn to control self-interruption.
You are at your desk absorbed in your work, when all of a sudden you brain starts talking to you. It reminds you of something that you need to tell a coworker or an important task that you need to take care of. Instead of grabbing the phone or shooting off an e-mail, write down what you need to tell that person or the task that you need to do in a separate binder that you keep for such purposes. Keep working on your current project and set aside time later to take care of things on your binder list.

4.  Say ‘no’ more often.
Know what your priorities are. When someone requests something of you and it doesn’t fit into your priorities, just say no. You don’t have to justify your answer with a long explanation or excuse.

5.  Delegate as much as you can.

We often think we can do everything ourselves, or that others will not devote as much care to the task as we would have. That is delusion, as we do not have enough time to do all that anyway. Other coworkers could easily handle some of the tasks. Get away from the thinking that you are the only one who can do the job right.

6.  Stop trying to be perfect.
Some tasks can be done and are just as successful even if they are not perfect. Trying to be perfect with everything will slow you down and cause unneeded stress in your life.

Your time is a very precious resource that should not be wasted. Efficiency is the key to getting things accomplished. Implement the above steps and you’ll find yourself accomplishing more in less time —and with less stress.

Shafir Ahmad is the author of The Expert’s Guide to Managing Your Time.