3 quick tricks to get more done at work

By November 5, 2012 Management & HR

Daylight Savings meant we all set our clocks back this weekend. The extra hour of work (or sleep) set our Monday morning off on the right foot, and made me realize how much we could all use a little extra time in our work day.

It doesn’t have to be this time of year to gain an hour. Keeping a work environment productive is an easier task when we approach things with smaller, incremental changes.

Here are three time-saving tricks to help your workplace stay productive this week.

1) Get more done with less people.

Sounds counter-intuitive, right? Research has shown that smaller teams are able to complete tasks at a more rapid pace than larger teams. A study from the University of Northern California found that a two-person team was able to complete a challenging mental task in less time than a four-person team. According to the authors, every time someone was added to the team, the probability for errors and conflicts increased.

We’ve all been a part of projects that seem to circle endlessly, bouncing from person to person. This week, try taking a task that is usually managed by many different people and assign it to a maximum of two. See if there is any difference in the time it takes to complete.

2) Start a beta list.

Some time ago I read an article  that said you should take your to-do list and create a ‘not-right-now’ list of things you would like to do or which you are interested, but that may not be high on the priority list of day-to-day duties. So I gave it a shot. My beta list has creative projects, research items, or non-critical tasks. It’s a small psychological trick, but it works. People in general are happier and more productive when they have a sense of accomplishment. Now I actually finish my to-do list every day, plus I’ve got a beta list of things that I find interesting and engaging waiting for me whenever there time allows.

Employees are unique individuals, and I am a firm believer that everyone has their own personal ways of organizing time. But asking employees to start a beta list is a great way to gain insight into what they enjoy most about their jobs.

3) Cancel a meeting.

Death by PowerPoint. I still can’t help but smile every time I hear this phrase because it rings so incredibly true. Slide sharing software has become so pervasive that in the business world, you look unprepared if you come without one. But do we really learn that way? Psychology has pretty much proven that we are unable to truly focus on multiple items at once, as discussed in this Financial Post article. We can’t read and absorb things the same time.

Think about the way you watch a news channel—if you’re reading the headlines or checking the stocks, are you really focusing on what the newscaster is saying? There is a reason people tune out during lengthy presentations. PowerPoint is sometimes the ideal tool for communicating a lengthy analysis. Just let people read it themselves. Next time you need to present a lengthy analysis, skip the meeting and try a quick 15-minute review of the information you’ve put together.

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