Improving productivity doesn’t have to just mean “working harder”. Why not better manage your work time and “work smarter” instead?
“Productivity” is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean? The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) defines productivity as follows:
“In economics, productivity refers to how much output can be produced with a given set of inputs. Productivity increases when more output is produced with the same amount of inputs or when the same amount of output is produced with less inputs.”
If that makes your brain hurt a little, improving productivity is simply interpreted as “working harder and getting more done than you did before.”
While this is one way to improve productivity, working smarter is also an option, and finding ways to better manage your work time is one way to do this. Here’s how.
1. You have to start somewhere
Many in healthcare and legal jobs work to an appointment schedule, so tracking your workday may seem simple, but it’s outside of those set appointments where you need to do the real work time assessment.
When you do this, it pays to be brutally honest. Why?
Because study after study (like this one) has found that the average worker is only productive…wait for it…for around THREE HOURS each day.
Wait, but you see “X” patients or clients a day, and that takes more than three hours. Sure, this figure is an average and will be skewed differently in certain industries, but even the busiest of us sneak in a well-deserved coffee break, check our socials, text a friend or partner, chat with a colleague about a non-work related thing…see where this is going?
Doing this honest assessment of your work day doesn’t mean forensically detailing every minute, but spend some time doing reasonably accurate tallies of how you spend your working day/week to map it out and help find efficiencies.
2. Work to a schedule
As noted above, you may already work to a fairly locked-in appointments-based schedule, but try to get more granular after the research you’ve compiled about your work time.
Create a daily schedule based on a standard 8-hour work day and allot blocks of time for daily or weekly tasks that need to be done outside of appointments.
And…stick to it…or at least try very hard to! But also be realistic and ensure your delivery time for tasks is achievable. It pays to add a little buffer time too where you can allow for slight time overruns.
But…here’s the hard part…try to give your undivided attention to the task at hand. This means flicking your phone to silent or switching off alerts or even putting it in flight mode, closing any applications or tabs in browsers you don’t need etc so you can be in the “task moment”.
Your task to-do list may be huge, but prioritise everything you can either according to importance or time-based deadlines, or both.
This might take the form of a simple ‘high’, ‘medium’ and ‘low’ structure. Or you could go even simpler and follow one of the business world’s most successful people, Warren Buffet, and try his “two-list” strategy: Pick your top 5 tasks and get them done first, not touching the rest until those five are complete.
4. Get SMART
If we are talking about managing your work time to work smart, setting your goals according to the S.M.A.R.T. methodology may be the way to go.
Often used by project managers, if you’ve not already come across it S.M.A.R.T. stands for goals that are “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound”.
Approaching bigger tasks or projects in this way will help bring a sense of structure to your work day and week, enabling you to get your head around practical deliverables, leading to a sense of accomplishment.
5. Learn when to say NO
This one is tricky, especially for anyone starting off their work journey who are out to impress management and climb the corporate ladder. And in the real world, there are situations where it may seem (and actually be) impossible to say no when things land in your lap.
However, knowing your limits, reaching out to colleagues or management for support and saying no when you need to will ensure you’re working within your physical and mental means.
Pushing yourself to the limit–and then some–may seem the best way to impress, but if it leads to you performing sub-optimally, putting forward your less-than-best work or making mistakes, any good work you do may be undone.
Bottom line: Knowing your limits is as important as pushing them.
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Reach out to us today if you have any questions and would like to discuss opportunities!