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11 Ways to Improve Your Productivity and Organisational Skills

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11 Ways to Improve Your Productivity and Organisational Skills

11 Ways to Improve Your Productivity and Organisational Skills

A post from our Time Management blog

      Written by Ashley Andrews
Do you ever find yourself looking at your high-flying colleagues who manage to get everything done? If burning the midnight oil is still not getting you the results you need in the office, then there's a strong possibility that you need to work on your productivity and organizational skills!

Here are 11 tips to help you get on the right track.

Before You Start, Evaluate

Even if you've never read about productivity or becoming more organized, You will have some kind of system in place already. Evaluate how you tackle specific jobs, how you choose to collaborate with colleagues, and how good you are at meeting deadlines. Do you often find yourself working late just to get things done?

Also try and think about what you're getting right. If you have a particular way of working that gets you results, it's worth taking it with you as you develop your professional career. Don't be afraid to pat yourself on the back every once in a while!

1. If You're Doing It Wrong, Admit It

Most of us are great at pointing fingers at others, but always find it that little bit harder to have a long hard look in the mirror. No matter how good you think you are when it comes to productivity and organization, there's always room for improvement. So being willing to embrace new ways of doing things is the first step towards injecting effective performance into your workflow.

2. Start With Baby Steps

We're going to give it to you straight: becoming a productive and organized work machine is going to take time. If you're a procrastinator extraordinaire, it's going to take more than just a day to change your habits. So in order to stop getting discouraged at the next roadblock you encounter, start things off with baby steps.

The main thing you want to avoid is that dreaded feeling of being overwhelmed. If this happens, you'll soon be clutching at old habits, putting off the gargantuan expectations you've set yourself, and you may even end up less productive than you were. Just start small and see "progress" as your initial aim. After some initial resistance from your old unproductive self, you'll soon see a sharp rise in your efficiency.

3. Start Using a Diary

Whether you opt for an app or the old school variety, ensure you have a diary or a notebook. It should include your most important appointments, tasks you need to get done, and anything in between. Without some sort of way to organize and track your day, you'll be lost in space.

Even if you've joined the digital revolution, there's always room for a notebook ... just in case. Remember, those pesky smartphones have a penchant for running out of battery at the most inconvenient moments.

4. Develop Some Discipline

When you make a promise to yourself, keep it. If you've made a plan with realistic expectations, then it's worth going the extra mile to ensure you stick to your guns. If you constantly find yourself having to stay late just to do the bare minimum, it may be that procrastination or distractions are getting in the way. Eliminate these over time and develop the discipline it takes to drive your projects forward.

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5. Use Time Management Tools and Apps

Technology is there to help you – so make sure you use it to your advantage, rather than becoming a slave to it. Time management tools and apps are out there which can trim hours off your day. Here are just a handful of them:
  • Basecamp – This is an excellent project management suite that's built with collaboration in mind. Packages start at just $20 per month.
  • Asana – Similar to Basecamp, just a little bit more lightweight - and it's free!
  • Freedcamp – The free version of Basecamp that's recently been revamped. Offers a surprising amount of features at no cost.
  • My Hours - My Hours is an excellent and effective free time tracking app. One of the most significant benefits of using the solution is the ability to calculate profitability. My Hours time monitoring can be as precise as you need to ensure your business thrives while maintaining its reputation.
  • Toggl – Not sure where your time is being spent? With its "Three products; One mission" slogan, you can use Toggl to track every minute of your day.
  • Any.Do – Simple and easy-to-use application that can be used to create personal to-do lists, whether for personal or professional projects.
  • Remember the Milk – If you need a more extensive version of Any.Do, Remember the Milk is an ideal task manager.
And don't forget cloud-based storage systems like Dropbox which protect you from losing important work documents, and allow you to access your files from home. Cloud-based storage applications also work across multiple devices.

And that's just the start. There are lots of other apps out there that work on your computer, laptop, as well as most smartphones. They usually sync on the cloud, meaning you can use them anywhere. But make sure you don't overload yourself – pick the ones that do what you need and go from there.

6. Prioritize Tasks

Every item on your to-do list should have a priority level attached to it. Come up with your own system, whether it's number-based or simply labelled as High, Medium, or Low Priority. It's important that you clear your desk of the most important items first and leave the rest till later in the day.

And if there are things you can get done quickly - we call them "Quick Wins" - get them done (and off your list) as soon as you can.

Whatever you do, don't bog yourself down with small-fry tasks such as looking over your emails, tidying your files, or making phone calls to catch up with clients. Otherwise you'll find yourself sticking around the office well after closing hours.

7. Get Rid of Clutter

It's impossible to work at a desk that's full of paperwork, unopened mail, and bundles of random trinkets. At the end of your working day, try to clear your desk. Get your drawers in order, stack papers in identifiable and categorised places, and throw away old items you no longer need. Having a clear workspace is paramount to staying organized and it also has a strong psychological effect. Turning up in the morning to a clean space is much more conducive to a high quality, productive work environment than seing something that looks like it's been hit by a hurricane.

8. Take Advantage of Idle Time

Becoming an expert at managing time that's otherwise idle can sometimes add several hours to your day. Do you walk to work? Listen to useful podcasts or audiobooks that will help you at the office. Commute on the train? If so, get your hands on a tablet or netbook to manage your documents. If you're super-organized, you may even use your time in the elevator to reply to a couple of crucial emails.

Stuffing those idle moments with useful items you can tick off your to-do list can have a surprising effect on your workload. Instead of spending evenings catching up with what you didn't manage to finish at the office, you can relax with your family and switch off.

9. Plan Your Days

When you first get to your office in the morning, open up your day planner (or equivalent) and set yourself a list of tasks that need to be completed. It may be tempting to get straight to work on a particular job, but planning your day carefully will actually help you be more efficient and will save you time.

Planning your day is just the start. You'll also want to manage the long-term aspects of your projects. Think about setting up goals that cover your week, month, and year. Of course, you can be a bit looser about the exact specifications when it comes to the big picture. However, your day-to-day goals should have a very clear set of to-dos that need to be completed before you head out the door.

10. Think About Your Goals

Being productive is not about working till you drop. And being organized doesn't matter if you're not getting the results you need. The whole point of being productive and organized is facilitating your long-term aims. If all your time is spent dealing with the small details, taking notes, making up new to-do lists, you're not going to get anywhere.

Keep your goals clearly in mind, whether they're geared towards personal advancement or driving the company forward. Don't lose sight of what you're looking to achieve – don't fall foul of ‘can't see the forest for the trees'.

11. Putting It All Together

Becoming a productive and organized work machine is about putting all the small pieces together, slowly. Take it one day at a time and don't think you'll get things just the way you want them overnight. It's going to be a process and as long as you're seeing improvements, you'll know you're on the right track. Be patient, stay diligent, and follow your to-do list with passion and respect. Soon people will be asking you how you get so much done in a day!

Want to Manage Your Time Better?

We have online courses with full 12-months' access.
RRP from $59 – limited time offer just $12.00

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