Technology might be indispensible, but it can make us less productive, especially in the workplace. Here are six tips to help us improve productivity.
Technology can be a double-edged sword. Although it provides us with almost immediate access to persons and information, all too often, we can also become slaves to those very same features, resulting us to being overwhelmed by all of that access and information.
In the workplace, where we have a number of activities demanding our attention and action, many expect technology to automatically make us more efficient, thus allowing us to be more productive. However, in today’s office, where we are inundated by modern gadgetry, high-speed broadband, and the general expectation that we are always accessible, this is rarely the case. More often than not, there must be an intervention or a strategy devised on how to get the most out of this new environment, having regard to the depth and breadth of our responsibilities. Hence, this post suggests, if adopted, six important ways you can improve your productivity in the modern workplace.
As much as we all like to believe we can multitask, we often get the most out of our time when we can focus on one task at a time. Thanks to our smartphone, our Inbox and the Internet, we can be interrupted frequently, thus breaking our concentration and consequently, our productivity. During periods when you need to work on specific tasks, it may be best to limit distractions, e.g.:
- do not check or respond to emails or your phones
- do not respond to messaging; and
- avoid surfing the web, unless it is connected with the task at hand.
Similar to the real world, you do not have to do it all. Although there might benefits to doing certain things yourself, it is also important to figure out what can be done by others, thereby freeing up your time to tackle other tasks. However, it is recommended that you avoid delegating tasks you do not like, or believe are beneath you to do. The persons to whom these tasks are assigned might feel resentful, which could result in less than stellar execution.
Consistent with the earlier views on multitasking, do create a schedule to help manage your time, especially on low priority or time-consuming tasks. For example, it is easy to get caught up in surfing the Net, even when conducting research. The challenge is to be smart (even ruthless!) with your time, and to ensure that you have allotted sufficient amounts for important tasks that have been assigned.
Many of us are overwhelmed by the scores of emails we receive on a daily basis. In addition to our colleagues, clients and other important business contacts, much of our mail might be from subscriptions to blogs, newsletters, and other online media. While it important to keep abreast of happenings in your industry, it is important to be selective, e.g.:
- keep the subscriptions that you read regularly
- select daily or weekly digests of emails, to limit the volume of messages; and
- unsubscribe to those that might just be clogging up your Inbox.
5. Set goals
This tip is not novel, but we tend not to establish structures to guide our online activities, as we would others in the real world. Perhaps the most important thing we should ask ourselves first thing in the morning, even before we pick up our smartphone or go to our PC, is “What do I want to accomplish today?” By the time, we try to keep on top of our emails, pore through a few online newspapers, and keep track of developments on our social networks of choice, our work day might be almost over. It is therefore important to establish our priorities and make adequate provision for them in our schedule.
6. Collaborate online
Finally, far too often, we do not take advantage of the online tools that are available for us to collaborate across teams. Typically, for example, documents are circulated via email, and edits or comments from individual team members are also re-circulated via email. This approach not only clogs up your mailbox, it can also make it difficult to keep track of inputs that have been made, and ultimately complicate what could be a relatively straightforward process. By using online collaboration tools, such as Google Docs, Zoho Writer, Basecamp and Zoho Projects, where all inputs are posted to a single location, improved coordination and efficiency can be realised.
Do you have any other tips?
What are some of the challenges you have experienced when working online that affect your productivity?
Do share them in the Comments box below.