Copy of 5 Ways to Feel More Productive at Work

Man working at a desk

Accomplishing tasks and making meaningful progress on projects can help you feel happy about your job. Here are five ways you can help your team see the progress they are making toward achieving project goals.

  1. Encourage your employees to break large projects into small wins. When it comes to completing large projects, it can feel like progress is slow. Instead of looking at the project as one large task, encourage team members to break large projects up into smaller, more manageable tasks. As employees break down larger projects, be sure to give them space to determine how they will accomplish their work; otherwise, you may run into the realm of micromanaging.

  2. Encourage your employees to become more organized. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed at work when you’re trying to keep track of a million projects and tasks. Life can become much more peaceful when you have an organized way to keep track of project suggestions and to do lists. There’s not just one way to be organized, but here’s one way that can effectively help you keep track of everything you’re trying to accomplish.

    Keep a “Wish List” of all the projects that people suggest you accomplish. Write down a title, or one-phrase summary, then write down who proposed the task and add in as many details as they provided. Scribble down any initial ideas or thoughts you have about the project. You’ll be surprised once you start writing these down just how many you probably get. The nice thing about doing this is that you don’t have to work on every idea or project at once. You can prioritize as you go.

    Now, write down your short list. This is the stuff you are working on THIS WEEK. Starting your task list on a Wednesday and ending it on the following Tuesday is a popular practice. Oftentimes, holidays and days off fall on Mondays and Fridays, so it makes it easier to stay in sync if your start and end days are in the middle of the week. When creating your short list, look at your wish list and identify what things need to get done this week. Move those wish list items to your short list. Keep track of items on your short list by classifying them as planned tasks, in progress tasks, tasks you’re waiting on for approvals or need help with, and items you’ve completed.

  3. Encourage employees to get a more realistic idea of how long projects really take. At the end of the day, look at the overall blocks of time and how you spent them. Tally up the time you’ve spent using these increments: one day = 1, half a day = 0.5, and a quarter of a day = 0.25. When doing this, remember you’re not accounting for all the small tasks you did in the day. Look overall at what you spent your time on. For instance, in an 8-hour day, you may have done the following: 30 minutes routine daily tasks, 15 minutes at a meeting, 4 hours going over inventory, 1 hour creating a form, 1.5 hours working with customers, and 30 minutes planning an upcoming event. However, when you tally up your day’s work, just write 0.5 inventory, 0.25 customer service, and 0.25 form creation. If the event planning was more important, put down 0.25 for event preparation instead.

  4. Encourage employees to better manage incoming emails. Instead of having a long list of emails in your inbox, read the contents and turn them into action items in your wish list (see #2 above) right away. Then archive the email. If your office doesn’t archive emails, you can create a new folder in your email where you can move these emails you have addressed. Keep emails that require immediate attention in your inbox. Once you have addressed the email, move it to your archive file.

  5. Acknowledge and learn from projects that get cancelled. Nothing takes the wind out of your team’s sails like working hard on a project that then gets cancelled. Frequently, when this happens, the work is put aside and the team starts a new project. The next time this happens, consider taking some time to present the project progress in a meeting. Record what your team learned from the project and look for ways you can re-purpose portions of the project. Doing this can help your team feel the time and effort they put into the project was not wasted.