Increasing Productivity At Work

Productivity seems to be a buzzword that we hear every day. More output equals more productivity, right? Wrong. In this blog post, we will discuss how to increase and improve your productivity at work, both as an employer and as an employee, along with some productivity tips to help along the way. From the perspective of the leader, productivity can be measured by looking at outputs per hour or time spent on task versus distractions. For employees, productivity means getting more done in less time with fewer interruptions from others which equals higher output relative to hours worked!

This strategy is beneficial for everyone. Employees have a better work-life balance, unproductive meetings are eliminated, or planned more effectively, and the entire workplace gets into a productive groove. Daily common tasks and long term priorities are both achieved without adding longer hours to overworked supervisors or managers.

At IRI Consultants, we've spent the last several decades providing employee and leadership training resources to organizations all over the country. In addition to custom video and eLearning, we've sought to equip workplaces with the tools they need to keep employee engagement high, foster a connection between leaders and their teams, and create a positive workplace where all employees feel heard, respected, and valued. Considering that employees who feel appreciated are found to be 13% more productive at work, in measured terms of sales, it's essential to discuss the importance of boosting productivity at work to accomplish shared company goals and attract and retain top talent.

What Does Productivity at Work Look Like?

Productivity can be measured by looking at outputs per hour or time spent on tasks versus distractions. As described by Clockify, productivity is how efficiently the resources, money, and time are being used to produce the output. So in other words, the following is the formula for measuring productivity:

Output/Input = Productivity

It isn't always necessarily that simple, especially if you aren't working in a factory, for example. For employees, productivity means getting more done in less time with fewer interruptions from others which equals higher output relative to hours worked! Additionally, we want to focus on the individual and their productivity rather than what others think of productivity. For a more in-depth look at measuring productivity, you can check out this guide.

Employee vs. Leadership Productivity

Employees should be aware of their productivity during the day and what is taking up their time. If productivity at work is measured by looking at outputs per hour, employees should be aware of what they are producing during the day and whether or not it warrants how much time was spent on that activity. With only so many hours in the day, you should focus on one task at a time, in order to make the most of your time. Using time management techniques, you maximize efficiency and productivity and don't get overwhelmed trying to do multiple things at the same time.

With productivity, there's no one size fits all approach to increasing it across the board. This includes knowing when you're most productive throughout the day as well as making productivity a priority (or not). No matter what productivity means to you, if it's measured by looking at outputs per hour or time spent on task versus distractions, make productivity a priority. You will thank yourself later if you use effective time management techniques. Take a look at your to do list, and focus solely on that, even if only for a set timeframe like 20 or 25 minutes, before you can take your focus off of that task.

For employers, productivity is not only measured by how much work employees get done in a given day but also whether or not there are distractions within the workplace that are getting in the way. This includes understanding what makes you productive so you can enhance productivity for yourself and your teams.

increase productivity at work

Can We Improve Productivity at Work?

There are a number of ways to increase productivity both professionally and personally. But the first step to improving productivity in the workplace is to measure it. By understanding how much each person is producing each day or week, leaders can determine what areas need improvement and where employees excel at their jobs. This information will help employees focus on their individual strengths and therefore increase their productivity in the workplace. Start by focusing on one task at at time, rather than staring blankly at a to do list and trying to prioritize multiple tasks at once. That's just a recipe for overwhelm.

Another way to boost employee productivity is to cut out distractions. Turn off your email notifications, or make a habit to only check them once every few hours. Put away the cell phone/mobile device during work hours, and only accept phone calls that are emergent or pertain to important tasks. We live in a world where technology is essential to complete most of our work, but it can easily be a source of distraction and deter us from doing the things we know we need to do, and that means it's happening at work, too, not just at home.

From a managerial or leadership standpoint, you need to set the example yourself to show your team(s) that you're not simply expecting more work to be done and solely want a positive impact on the bottom line. Practice what you preach. Make sure that you are taking the necessary steps to be more productive and less distracted, even though those actions may look different from those of your team members and employees. As a leader, it may mean reducing time spent in unproductive meetings, and taking that time to seek feedback from employees on what will make them feel valued, respected, and heard. Employees who feel appreciated are going to be happier. And as Forbes puts it, if you want to be more productive at work, get happy!

How To Be More Productive At Work

Prioritize Tasks

Aside from cutting down on distractions, you can increase your productivity by first and foremost prioritizing tasks on a to-do list by importance, after you've created SMART-er goals, or by their due date. Come up with a list of things you need to do, whether it be daily, weekly, monthly, or all of the above, and prioritize the items on the list, one at a time. This will help you have an idea of what needs to be done first and what can wait until later.

Delegate Where Necessary

Another great way to boost productivity is by delegating appropriate work to other employees. Delegate things that people around you are more qualified for or that they enjoy doing more than you do. Also, never take on too much yourself! It's easy for employees to feel overwhelmed when they're asked to do too many different things at once. Regardless of how much you think you can handle, remember that everyone needs a break from their work every once in a while!

Take Breaks and Take Care of You

Lastly, increase your productivity by taking care of yourself. That means you should get plenty of rest and, if possible, get up and move around often and take regular breaks. Don't skip your break time, or even underestimate the power of even a five minute break every hour. Especially if you spend a lot of time sitting down or at a desk, movement will help to stimulate your brain and help you stay focused when it's time to get back to work on important tasks. Also, eat well and stay hydrated throughout the day! If you're not feeling well it's going to be hard for you to have a productive day.

Additional Tips for Workplace Productivity

Getting started with Productivity Goals

A helpful way to get started is to focus on these three different types of productivity goals in order to get yourself situated for success. They are process-related, outcome-related, and energy management. These are not mutually exclusive, but it helps to know what you're working towards before you start trying to work.

Process-related productivity goals:

These are the micro-goals that lead up to the meeting of your main goal. For example, if your main goal is to finish a novel in one year, then each little step along the way becomes a process-related goal (finish the first draft, edit the first draft, etc).

Outcome-related productivity goals:

When you're focused on outcome-related productivity (usually long-term) it's easy to get discouraged. It helps to break down your overall goal into smaller chunks and work towards those as well. By focusing on the smaller parts of your product, it becomes easier to see the progress you're making.

Energy management productivity goals:

If your goal is not something you can directly influence or change, then perhaps your energy level would be a better way to get things done. In this instance, you might focus on the times of day that are best for writing and set about getting as much work done as you can during those periods. Does it work? See for yourself. There are no right or wrong ways to go about increasing productivity as long as the goal fits what makes sense to you and your life.

How can having goals be beneficial?

Having goals will help help you save time because you accomplish what you want and need to do, as well as motivate you to complete important tasks. There are several ways that having goals may improve your productivity levels, such as the sense of accomplishment you get.

Decrease Speed, Increase Efficiency

It may seem unconventional, but we've found that by decreasing speed you can actually increase your efficiency and therefore increase productivity. It's common to see people rushing around with their heads down, but productivity experts suggest taking the time to slow down and think things through before jumping into action. You might not be able to focus on every single part of a task if you're in a rush, which makes it hard to stay productive when you have multiple projects to complete. 

Instead of being in a rush, set a timer when you have large or important tasks in front of you. This way, you can take your time and make sure that nothing is missed. Taking deep breaths and re-centering your focus can also help combat that desire to speed through a task.

Enhance Productivity By Optimizing Your Surroundings  

Our surroundings do have an impact on how productive we feel and work. A study conducted by Harvard Business School, found that a clean desk and office boosts productivity by an average of 15-20 percent. Employees were found to be more engaged after being exposed to a cleaner environment. From this data, it can be inferred that a clean desk equals a happy worker.

What can I do to optimize my surroundings?

You may want to try placing any items that you use on a daily basis in easy reach, as well as clear away distractions. It's also important to keep your work area clean and tidy, this will give you space to move around and will help you feel more at ease.

Increase Productivity By Communicating Effectively    

If you are having problems communicating effectively with the people around you, then your productivity levels will suffer. When you communicate effectively, your whole world is positively transformed. People will want to work with you and for you. They'll understand the importance of what you're saying and they'll be more receptive and willing to listen.

Why is effective communication important for productivity?

Being able to communicate effectively with other people is vital if you want to increase productivity. It will allow you to accomplish more by having fewer problems and misunderstandings. Try avoiding using jargon or slang, as well as improving your speaking skills.

Sometimes communication is hindered by the systems and processes put in place by the businesses we work for. Consider reaching out to a leader or manager to discuss the possibility of improving your communication software or setting expectations for how team members communicate. All leaders should be interested in how to increase productivity for their workforce, so try suggesting some new ideas that can help get your company on the right track.

Increase Productivity, Improve Your Life

Productivity is a measure of how much work you do during a set period. Enhance productivity and the quality of your professional and personal life will improve exponentially with less time spent on unproductive tasks. You can start by finding 10 minutes in every day to devote yourself to one of the 10 suggestions above. Make each day more and more productive by slowly incorporating each idea into your daily routine - you’ll be amazed at what you accomplish when with these small but powerful changes!

The Benefits of Increased Productivity

Increased and improved productivity creates a better work environment because it means that you are accomplishing more tasks/projects with fewer distractions. What does this mean for your work atmosphere and the employees and leaders around you? Completing the list of tasks you have set out for yourself brings a sense of personal accomplishment and satisfaction for employees, while it is also no doubt beneficial for the company as a whole.

When we increase our productivity at work, we increase the amount of progress that can be made on current projects. We also increase our ability to create new projects with the help of increased creativity. Increased production in factories or other workplaces is beneficial because it increases sales for everyone involved with the company. When you improve your productivity, you increase the quality of your work as well as how quickly it will be completed for clients or customers. Better productivity at work can lead to less stress and burnout, and a better work/life balance.

how to be productive at work

Take Action to Boost Your Productivity at Work

If you're searching for how to be more productive at work, you've come to the right place. Our "Take Action to Inspire Productivity" training will help your leaders come away with the following knowledge:

  • the four core needs that employees require to reach maximum productivity
  • the ten things you can do in the workplace to inspire employees to go the extra mile
  • one success story of a specific company that puts people first

Leaders need to make sure their employees are engaged because engaged employees are more productive. Every team member plays a part in achieving your company goals, and the proper motivation, along with the proper leadership skills and expertise necessary to motivate, can lead to improved productivity and increased profitability! If you're wondering how to increase productivity at work, let our team of experts help you with a custom solution for your workplace!

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About the Author Jennifer Orechwa

With over 25 years in the industry, and now as IRI's Director of Business Development, Jennifer has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to build a culture of engagement. By blending a deep understanding of labor and employee relations with powerful digital marketing knowledge, Jennifer has helped thousands of companies achieve behavioral change at a cultural level.

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