Every year you vow to change things, get your life together, become a better you and every year…let’s just say you fall a little short of the mark (just like most people).
This year brings good news though – it’s not your fault.
The problem is that most people know what they want to achieve in the New Year and some people even know how to do that, but it’s much, much harder to stay on track and reach your goals without a method for success.
We’re not going to tell you what to eat or how to decorate your living room this year, but we do know about business. Here’s our guide to getting your life in order at work in 2019.
First things first, it doesn’t matter how good you are at your job if fifty percent of your day is spent staring out the window, reading junk emails of checking Facebook for ‘business updates’. Eight hours in the office working at half-power is four hours of work. Sorry to blow your mind with such complex statistics so early in the year, but the point is, it matters what you do; not how long you try to do it.
Atmosphere: Not everyone works in the same way and your ideal work environment needs to be as individual as you are.
The way to create an atmosphere in which you thrive is to experiment.
Try listening to something. This could be music, often listening to the same album repeatedly can keep you in the flow, or you could listen to a productivity soundtrack specifically designed to aid concentration.
Maybe the issue isn’t a lack of sounds but too much sound. Consider working in a quiet space, working from home or using a white noise app to filter out background distractions.
If you work from home, on the move or have your own room in the office then the atmosphere can be improved further by finding a level or type of lighting that suits you better, adding pictures or plants to feel more at home, as well as investing in a teapot, cafetière, or water filter (and any snacks), to avoid having to get up when you are in the middle of something in-depth and to feel more comfortable.
Keeping things fresh: The New Year is a time of change for many people and change should be a theme if you want to be more focused.
Changing where you work, from your desk, to a café, to your car, to the canteen means things stay fresh; improving your concentration and creativity.
Working too long without a rest means diminished returns on your effort, so breaking tasks up into fairly short intense periods is better than working aimlessly for long periods, as our concentration spans are less than half an hour, with single thoughts only lasting a few seconds for some people.
A good method to try for this is the ‘pomodoro technique’, which involves using a mechanical timer to work for 25 minutes at a time with a short break after each session, just enough time to stretch your legs before starting the next session. This gives chance to reflect on each session which means you know you are doing something worthwhile with an end-goal, rather than just working for work’s sake.
OK, so by now you’ve got concentration nailed, you can work like a machine for short periods and get more work done than ever before, but, just to check…what are you doing exactly?
A lot of people don’t struggle to be productive because of a lack of effort or focus, they get a lot done, but don’t know what their priorities should be. If this is you, it’s time to get organised!
Alright, I’m sorry, I know you are organised, any successful employee is, but that doesn’t mean you should rest on your laurels; we can always work smarter.
It might sound like a no-brainer, but simply getting your diary in order can make a huge difference to how organised you are. Scheduling smaller meetings like a chat about the direction of a project with a specific colleague can really help you to make progress. Keeping on top of projects in this way means you know if you need more or less time dedicated to each, and helps you spot problems before they happen.
Another method worth an overhaul is the ‘to-do list’, which is almost a cliché at this point, a list that often won’t be completed at all. Rather than trying to work on a list, prioritise tasks and just focus on the single most important one, then reassess your workload when that’s complete.
It’s also worth using an online note-taking site or app to do the work as you can organise yourself in more detail, and you’ll never lose any scraps of paper either!
As well as adding processes, the New Year is a good time for a clean out. Get rid of any files or emails you don’t need, so you get down to the bare essentials. Anything remaining goes into an appropriately labelled folder, so you don’t waste any of your time searching for files; meaning all your time is spent on the work that really matters.
That’s the main principle of productivity: Making sure you strip away anything unnecessary, leaving just the essentials, so you can operate as leanly as possible and avoid wasting time.
In the same way that wasting time looking for files hurts productivity, so too does doing the same thing more than once.
There will always be last minute changes to work, but if you can avoid having to edit or redo your work multiple times, you know you are getting the most out of your day.
Firstly, read what you have written before any presentations, emails, letters or proposals are seen by the wider workforce and/or public. This sounds painfully obvious, but it is frequently the reason for so many mistakes which can be potentially embarrassing for you and your organisation, in equal measure.
If this is something you struggle with…you need help!
This could be proofreading by a colleague, or by downloading a writing app to check your grammar and phrasing (don’t forget writing programmes generally come with spelling and grammar as standard too) meaning you are going to not only present a higher standard of work, but through noting the suggestions, you will become a stronger communicator – there’s no reason you can’t be a completely different level of writer and thrive in any role by the end of 2019!
OK, so last thing first. It might come after scheduling and organising but the first thing you do after starting a project at work is to plan out what exactly you need to do to complete the task at hand.
This year, the plan can be bigger and better than ever. With all the tools at your disposal you can use things like data visualisation and in-house surveys to work out what your business requires of you and work out the real facts while finding out what the people you work with actually think.
This is crucial as when we have done a job for a long time, we can do it well, so it’s easy to assume a lot. Those assumptions can be wrong so it’s much better to base them on hard data and the opinions of others combined with your own thoughts to make better decisions.
Whatever 2019 throws at you, rest assured that our tips will make the painful painless…as long as you stick to them.
Still struggling to organise your payroll in 2019? Contact our Managed Services team to make this your best year yet. Click HERE to find out more.