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Techniques to Increase Productivity

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

You can use a number of techniques to increase your productivity at work.


The first one is to prioritize and plan based on urgency and importance. Let’s face it, tasks and projects rarely run according to plan. So, to ensure success, you need to set clear priorities. Even if you use the best project-management software, you still have to prioritize the daily work and avoid blockages. And remember, assigning everything ‘top priority’ is also unrealistic and unworkable. Most tasks and projects are multifaceted, with many moving parts made up of people, processes and materials. So you need to adhere to specific steps.

How can you do this? First, list of all your tasks specifically. Then understand the difference between ‘urgent’ and ‘important.’ An urgent to-do means do it ‘now. ’ An important task does not have to be done now, but contributes to our long-term values, goals, and mission.

Third, assess the value of the task against your priorities. And next, order tasks by estimated effort and time taken to complete them. Fifth, be flexible and adaptable in your scheduling and think outside the box. And finally, know when to stop, change the plan, and re-prioritize.

Schedule resources

The second technique is to schedule resources. Resource scheduling is a key step of project management! It is used by organizations to efficiently assign available resources to jobs, tasks, processes, or projects. It enables them to accurately schedule start and end dates based on resource availability.

The resource scheduling methodology involves a number of steps:

  1. Begin with a list of the tasks to be actioned and their estimated durations.
  2. Consider the barriers and constraints for this list of tasks. These might include required skills, availability of a facility, time differences for staff in different countries, strict deadlines, and so on.
  3. Specifically categorize the resources required, such as time required, people available, materials to be ordered, and on-demand funding.
  4. Fourth, delegate the resources for each stated category. Take into account the availability of people with regard to their current and forecasted workload, training requirements, upcoming vacation days, and so on. In the case of materials, consider what is available on demand, in stock, subject to shipping delays, licensing, and so on.
  5. Coordinate scheduled tasks with their corresponding available resources until all tasks are assigned.
  6. Realistically forecast to take into consideration delays in materials, resource availability, and capacity versus demand.

Set deadlines

Cyril Northcote Parkinson, a famous economist, developed Parkinson's Law. This states that “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” In other words, the longer you give yourself to complete a task, the longer it will take you to complete the task.

By approaching a task and setting a strict deadline in advance, you can cut off this ‘expansion of time’ and stay focused on your task. For example, you could use your mobile handset to set specific small deadlines and alerts of 60 - 90 minutes to work on your specific task.

Learn to say ‘No’ to meetings

Of course, you must always have a valid reason for saying no. If you are invited to a meeting and you know in advance that you will not be asked to contribute or asked a question, don’t attend the meeting. Defend your time instead.

If you let other people waste it for you, they will willingly do so. So it’s important to say no. But remember, if you do say no, you must have a valid reason for doing so.

Avoid multi-tasking

This might sound counter-intuitive. Many people assume that multi-tasking is a very efficient use of time. However, according to Forbes, “focusing on one task at a time is more efficient.”

Tracking and limiting time spent on tasks is the sixth technique. Take a moment to consider this. Are you really being efficient and effective with an eight-hour day spent sitting at your desk? Realistically and honestly understand your ability to stay ‘on task’.

Gallup surveys have found that the average amount of time that people spent on any single activity before being interrupted or before switching was three minutes and five seconds, on average! After any interruption, most of us tend to not revert back to our task and instead focus our attention elsewhere. Without strict self-disciple to stay on course and avoid multi-tasking, these interruptions make for a disjointed and unproductive day that can become, if not checked, a daily, weekly and life-long negative habit.

Manage email

Despite the advantages of using email, most of us become a slave to our inbox. We receive a little boost of endorphins when we see an email alert. This, coupled with the modern expectation to be ‘always on’, means we feel the need to respond instantly to every incoming email. Better instead to turn off notifications and look at your email at the beginning of the day, just before lunch, just after lunch, and before you go home.

Activate your ‘out of office reply’ when you are at a meeting off-site, or on leave. You may even turn on your ‘out of office’ reply to say that due to large volumes of email being received that you are unavailable until a specific time. This will allow you to prioritize more effectively. Also bear in mind that if an email really is urgent, the sender will probably telephone you directly.

Take food breaks and stay hydrated

This concerns your physical well-being. Beginning your working day with breakfast and then having a constant supply of water will help you improve your productivity. The powerful air-conditioning in modern workplaces can cause you to become dehydrated and this will in turn affect your ability to think and reason. You slow right down.

Skipping food breaks because you are busy is very tempting. However, you need the nutrition to maintain your energy levels. Taking time away from the desk to eat is a welcome break in your working day.

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Kevin J Reid

CEO of Personal Skills Training, Senior Coach at Kevin J Reid Coaching, Co-founder and Communications Director of The Counsel.ie, and Lead Collaborator of LeitrimMade.com

  • A consummate and skillful international communications trainer, facilitator, and coach
  • Has over 15 years of learning development experience with individuals, teams, and entire organizations
  • Has facilitated communications workshops and training across numerous sectors in Ireland, the UK, Europe, America, and Africa

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

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    Personal Skills
    Kevin J Reid
    Skills Expert

    When it comes to improving your personal skills in the workplace, four essential skills stand out: the ability to be more productive at work; the ability to adapt to a changing work environment; the ability to manage your time effectively; and the ability to deal with setbacks. This module focuses on enhancing your skills in these four critical areas.

    When it comes to productivity, you will learn about the difference between being busy and being productive, and techniques you can use to increase your output and to deal with unwelcome distractions and interruptions.

    The lesson on adaptability focuses on how to cultivate an adaptable mind-set at work, and how to find alternative – and innovative – solutions to problems by using tactics like brainstorming and mind-mapping.

    The time-management lesson explains how to prioritize tasks and set goals, how to save and create time, and how to eliminate personal time stealers such as excessively viewing email or attending too many meetings.

    The module concludes with a lesson on how to respond to setbacks in the workplace. You will discover the importance of demonstrating resilience in the face of adversity, and how to turn setbacks into valuable learning opportunities.