Productivity whore

It’s times like this that I really need to boost my productivity and efficiency when I work. If I really need to get something done, I have a process of shutting down the rest of my brain and focusing on the parts that are doing any useful work. Unfortunatly, this isn’t easy as it sounds, but I’m going to go through some tips here to make sure that project you’re working on is in on time! Or at least just a little late…

E-mail

If you’re like me, you’ll have your e-mail client check for new e-mails every five to ten minutes. I’m not advocating shutting down your e-mail client alltogether, but of the tens or hundrends of e-mails your receive everyday, how many needs to be answered right away? I recommended setting the auto-check interval to be an hour, it’s enough time for you get some serious productivity, and the distraction let you think about somethign else, and after spending ten to fifteen minutes replying to e-mails, you can then get back to work with a (relatively) fresh head.

Telephone

The same technique should be used with telephones as was used with e-mails, just turn it off/unplug it. Let your calls goto voicemail. After all, you can check your voicemail every hour to see if you had any urgent calls, they will leave a message. If this isn’t possible or not appealing to you, then get caller ID and screen every call you get, only answer the calls that you know are important..

Music

I know that music is a purely subjective thing, and personal preference is much more important then what I’m going to say here, but if you work in a noisy office, music can be a massive boost to productivity. The main problem is that most music nowadays is lyrical, and has a tendency to sap your attention away from your work. You can (as I’ve done) learn to almost filter out the music and work, effectively giving you a noise free enviroment to work in, you can get noise cancelling headphones and use them without music (acting as ear muffs but looking better), or you can listen to instrumental music. I recommend paino music from the romantic period, something by Chopin or the like. If you’re after something newer, Orbital’s Work album features some of their best records (which I’m listening to now), most being instrumental.

Instant messaging

There is a simple solution to this one, turn it off. If someone really wantss to contact you, they’ll find another way. Instant messaging is probably the biggest cause of lost production out of all the other factors. I’d definitely recommended turning off pop-up notifications or sounds right away, as its a rather egotistical view that the instant messenger you’re using should be the main priority of your life. If you use IM for business purposes, such as contact with your customers, then perhaps you shouldn’t follow this, but for everyone else, get smart with IM.

Other people

Of course, if someone comes to see you, you can’t just blindly fob them off with a grunt and a rude hand gesture. On the other hand, you can’t invite them in for a two hour discussion about the weather. Just be polite, and mention that your time is limited as you’re busy working on this extremely important project. If you’re lucky enough to have a private office, then close the door. I know many people prefer having the door open, but it really does invite people to walk into your office, and its also another source of distraction.

Unless you’re a massive abuser of everything I’ve mentioned, these simplistic tips aren’t going to make your productivity sky-rocket. However, they should be enough to give you a tangable gain, as well as improving the quality of your work. One last tip, remember to stay hydrated, dehydration can reduce your performance by upto ten percent. Now that you’ve wasted another ten minutes reading this article, it’s time to make it up and get back to work!

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