Top ways to boost your productivity at work
There are more distractions at work than ever before. We live in a digital age and spend the vast majority of our time at work either in front of a laptop, staring at a screen or tapping away on a smartphone. For every productivity app or website, there are a million YouTubes, Twitters, Facebooks and BuzzFeeds ready to grab your attention and sap your productivity.
Being productive takes practice, and you need to set yourself ground rules and milestones to achieve it. Procrastination will not be overcome with copious amounts of coffee and erratic list making – no matter how many times you wish this were true. The only way to beat distraction and stay on task is by changing the way your work and breaking bad habits.
Saying that, procrastination is not the only reasons for low output and under performance. Taking on too much, poor time management, negativity and stress are also major contributors. The tips below will help you boost productivity, increase quality and feel more accomplished on a daily basis. What are you waiting for?
Put these habits into practice and see a surge in productivity:
SET YOURSELF ACHIEVABLE GOALS
We have all been there, but if you start your day with a to-do list the length of your arm you’ll probably achieve less than if you focused on three or four tasks. Psychologically, if you know that you will be unable to achieve everything on your list, then the element of personal competition is lost – you might as well put that report off until tomorrow because you’re unlikely to get it done today with everything else on your plate – right?
If you have 30 tasks on your to-do list, it’s likely you won’t even know where to begin. So guess where you start your day – on Twitter, on Facebook or at the coffee machine – panicking. Take a more focused approach to your to-do list, think seriously about what you need to achieve during the day and give yourself reasonable time to complete each task. Not only will you be able to get them done, giving yourself a real sense of achievement, but you will also complete them to a higher standard because you have the focus and the time you need.
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DO ONE THING AT A TIME
Stop trying to do 15 things at once! If you are constantly flitting between different tasks and projects, you will find it almost impossible to focus on each one. The most productive among us do one thing at a time, and they do it well. They don’t give in to distractions and will only move onto something different once they have completed the previous task.
At the beginning of your day plan a schedule. What are you going to tackle first - this should always be the most time consuming or daunting task - second and third? Estimate how long each project should take and monitor your own progress to ensure you are not falling behind. Many people confused productivity with volume. Doing 12 tasks badly is less productive that doing five exceptionally well. Finding the balance is key to your success.
CHECK YOUR EMAILS AT PLANNED INTERVALS
Check your emails at planned intervals throughout the day and watch your productivity increase ten fold. By checking your emails – an responding proactively – at say 8am, 11am, 2pm and 4pm, rather than having them on in the background all day means that not only will you avoid distraction, but when you do read them you will answer productively.
Email is an incredible business tool, but it can also be extremely disruptive. Not everyone is aware of appropriate email etiquette and a message that could have been sent to one person may end up being forwarded to multiple recipients – a lot of email traffic is just noise – don’t let it sap your creative energy. If something cannot be solved within one of two email responses, pick up the phone. This kind of regimented approach will truly help you get ahead.
Negativity is a real productivity killer. Don’t engage in negative gossip in the office and distance yourself from colleagues who prefer to complain about tasks rather than get them done. Encourage yourself to think positively, apply yourself fully to your work, think of ways to improve your own performance and encourage your peers. Not only will you become more productive, you will also find you enjoy your work a lot more and gain more from it.
Some great ways to encourage positivity include going to a walk or run before work in the morning, listening to your favorite music on the way into the office, eating healthily and taking pride in everything you do. Start living life as well as you can and positivity is a by-product.
TAKE REGULAR BREAKS
Throughout the day give yourself regular breaks, it will refresh your mind, clear your head and give you the energy to tackle the next thing on your to-do list. Go for a short walk, go and grab a coffee or even take five minutes to check your Facebook or Twitter. By allowing yourself some time-off, you will also be far less tempted to procrastinate. A few short breaks throughout the day will also help improve the quality of your work; you will come back recharged and ready to achieve greater efficiency.
Follow these simple steps and begin to see a more productive, efficient and accomplished you emerge. Your work, attitude and application will improve – as will your chances of a promotion.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.