When it comes to making each day more productive, you're used to hearing the same tips over and over again. Resist the temptation to continuously check your email. Wake up earlier. Craft a powerful and compelling to-do list.
While those tips can definitely make a difference, they're now so oft-repeated that they go in one ear and out the other.
And, that's exactly why Joe Staples, CMO of Workfront, used his experience, research, and the 2016-2017 State of Work Report to identify five strategies to increase your productivity that you haven't heard a million times before. Give them a try, and watch as that perfectly-crafted to-do list disappears.
1. Change The Way You Sync Up With Your Team
A reported 59% of Americans say that meetings are the biggest time-sucks of their days. We all spend countless hours circled up around the conference room table, only to walk out without any progress being made.
"There's been a lot of talk about removing meetings altogether, but that's not the answer," explains Staples.
Instead, you need to change the way you approach meetings. First, ensure whether or not a sit-down is really needed -- or if the matter could easily be resolved using a less time-consuming method.
If you determine a formal meeting is necessary, maintain focus on results and resolution, rather than simply rehashing tasks and responsibilities. Another effective trick? Cut your normal meeting time in half to keep everybody on track.
2. Get Real on Your Productivity Successes and Failures
All too often, we scrounge for different hacks and tips we can use to increase our productivity -- without ever turning a keen eye on what's working and what's failing in our current workflows.
It's important that you take some time to get real about your productivity successes and failures and determine how much you can feasibly get done during a 40-hour work week.
Are there obvious holes in your processes or too many interruptions? Evaluate your average day-to-day to figure out what changes need to be made. This self-reflection might seem unnecessary, but this awareness can make a huge difference in your daily productivity.
3. Focus on Your Primary Duties
Are you ready for a rude awakening? In 2016, American office workers are spending only 39% of their time on the primary job duties they were hired for.
Where does the rest of their time go? To assorted tasks and projects that don't actually fall within the scope of their position. "So, it comes as no surprise that they then face challenges meeting their actual job goals," Staples says.
Yes, being helpful and adaptable is key in the office. But, if you feel as if your productivity and your professional goals are suffering, it's time to have an honest conversation with your boss or your team in order to bring the focus back to the central purpose of your role.
Needless to say, clearing those unrelated duties off your plate will free up plenty of time to actually accomplish the important, relevant things you need to get done.
4. Bring Lunch Hour Back From the Dead
57% of American workers take 30 minutes or less for a lunch break. But -- as counterintuitive as it might seem -- numerous studies have shown that taking breaks throughout your workday can actually have a positive impact on your productivity.
So, stop subsisting on four cups of coffee and the office candy jar and instead leave yourself some adequate time to fuel up on some healthy foods over the lunch hour.
Yes, it seems odd that stepping away from your desk will result in getting more done. But, give it a try and you'll likely be surprised.
5. Don't Get Tool Happy
There's always some sort of new tool, app, or platform coming out that promises to skyrocket your productivity. And, some of those really can be helpful in keeping you focused and organized.
However, if you load up on too many -- particularly ones that don't integrate or work together -- you'll only end up slowing yourself down.
Do your best to identify what works best for you and then keep things lean by using only multi-purpose tools that meet your needs.
Everybody wants to be more productive. And, the classic pieces of advice you've heard time and time again can undoubtedly be helpful.
But, if you're looking for some fresh tips, give these five a try and start ticking off that to-do list!
Correction: An earlier version misstated Joe Staples's title. He is CMO of Workfront.