This week marks the Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year. This got us thinking about long working hours and asking the question: Can being more productive in the office help us to achieve a healthy work-life balance?
Working Families is the UK’s leading work-life balance organisation and they’ve introduced ‘Go Home on Time Day’, taking place on Wednesday 21 June, in order to raise awareness of the importance of a work-life balance. They want to start a national discussion that puts work-life balance and employee well-being at the forefront and they stress that going home on time should be the norm, not the exception.
The Mental Health Foundation estimates that nearly three in every ten employees will experience a mental health problem in any one year. And they say the recent and dramatic rise in Britain’s working hours would suggest this in likely to increase. 13% of the UK’s working population work 49 hours or more each week. Work related stress already costs Britain 10.4 million working days each year.
So, we’ve brainstormed and we’ve researched and here are our five top tips on how to perform at your productive best and hopefully not be the last person in the office every evening…
- Use a time management matrix
Categorise your tasks into four quadrants to determine the tasks you “need” to do and decide what should be made a priority. It’s all about prioritising what tasks are going to be the most impactful.
- Write a list of ‘time stealers’ and try to reduce them
Can you pinpoint activities that eat into your time but result in little productivity? These could be things like: starting too many things and not finishing them; unnecessary meetings; unclear actions; interruptions; procrastinating…the list is endless. Be true to yourself, dig deep and identify your list. Then set about an action plan to control them so they can’t control you!
Schedule in email free time periods for instance when a task needs undivided attention. Hold ‘standing meetings’ – they tend to be quicker. And quit multitasking – psychologists have found attempting to do several tasks at once can result in lost time and productivity!
- Do, Delegate, Dump
An oldie but a goody. The time management matrix can help you decide which task can go under which heading. Anything in the important / urgent quadrant you need to prioritise. Anything in the not important / non-urgent quadrant either dump or can certainly be left until tomorrow!
- The two-minute rule
Entrepreneur Steve Olenski recommends implementing the “two-minute rule” to make the most of small windows of time that you have at work. Do as follows: If you see a task that you know can be done in two minutes or less, do it straight away. According to Olenski, completing the task immediately actually takes less time than having to get back to it later. Big time saver!
- Draw a line between work and leisure
Ease off the adrenaline – productive people need to rest or they burn out. If you need to bring work home, try to complete it in a designated room. Then shut the door on it and move into a different space during that all-important wind down period. Write a list for tomorrow whilst it’s fresh in your head then leave your laptop, draw a firm boundary and have closure…
Can you think of any more ways of increasing productivity so we can all get home on time? Comment below!