5 creative ways to increase productivity this fall

Ah, fall. The air is crisp, the leaves are beginning to turn, the apples are ripe for picking….and your desk is a mess. Why not borrow from the freshly sharpened pencils and organized lockers/backpacks/lunch boxes of kids back in school and strive to increase your productivity? Here are five innovative tips:

Take advantage of your commute

Use your drive into work to touch base with employees or project team members. These aren’t scheduled meetings, but rather those calls that need to happen but can eat up valuable office time. The fact that you are in your car may be enough to ensure calls are succinct (thus, cutting down on time-sucking chatter). Post-call, take advantage of several great mobile dictation apps that allow you to track what was discussed, hands-free. Other ideas for your commute include listening to the book your boss asked your team to read instead of spending precious evening time reading it or practicing for that big speech or presentation coming up. By the time you get to work, you’ve already knocked out one or two items on your to-do list.

Avoid (or at least reduce) interruptions

Working predominately from home has made me more aware of the time that gets wasted when I do go into the office. One major hindrance is the side conversation that can span from 5 minutes to even an hour. While connecting with your teammates is important, be sure to set boundaries so you can get your work done and avoid late nights in the office or worse, late nights at home catching up before the next day. My favorite ideas include:

  • Positioning your desk so it doesn’t face the door to avoid catching people’s eyes who might be walking by, which can invite unplanned visitors
  • Establishing office hours for questions or ad hoc meetings
  • Going to a person you need to speak with instead of having them come to you. This puts you in control of the length of the visit and gets your blood pumping a bit!

Get edgy with your meetings

Consider actually starting your meetings on time. This is a bold move, as most of the meetings I attend can easily start as late as 10 minutes past the hour. If there are five people at the meeting, that’s almost an hour of wasted time at your organization! Starting a meeting at the top of the hour may irritate some folks in the beginning, but over time, might just result in a behavior change across your organization. By starting a meeting on time, with an agenda, and ran efficiently, it is more likely to end early. In that case, if your five person meeting ends 10 minutes early, that’s almost an hour of time added back to your organization!

Organize your space

Research tells us time and again that a cluttered workspace can increase blood pressure and feelings of anxiety and stress. Work can be stressful enough, so why not set some time aside during the day or come in a bit early to get your office/workspace in order? Your process should include both getting rid of stuff you no longer use (or rarely use) and creating an organizational system you can commit to and incorporate into your routine.

Suggestions include:

  • Give everything a place. Straightening up is so much easier when everything has a home.
  • Ditch duplicates. Do you really need 50 pens sitting on your desk? What about the 3 staplers hidden in your drawer?
  • Get inspired. Scan the web for systems that work for you. Pinterest has hundreds of fantastic ideas for organizational systems that suit every type and personality.
  • Take advantage of your walls. Hang shelving and file holders on empty walls to give your desk, and you, some breathing room.

Break big problems into bite-sized pieces.

This one tip has allowed me to get so much more done in my day, week, month, and year. Consider the previous tip on organizing your workspace. Assuming you do not have the luxury of setting aside an entire week at work to get organized, try 15 minutes a day. Use the first day to scan your space and determine what you want to accomplish. Make a list of smaller tasks such as getting rid of unnecessary clutter, shredding expired documents, and cleaning your computer screen and keyboard. Then just work down the list for 15 minutes each day. You’ll be finished before you know it! Apply this tip to other areas at work and in your personal life. You’ll be amazed at what can be accomplished when done consistently.

We all have different personalities, and what works for one person will not work for another. There are thousands of tips out there to get organized and increase your productivity. It’s easy to get overwhelmed at the idea, but doing nothing will only keep you coming back to that same messy desk. So pick just one idea from this list to implement starting tomorrow, and let me know how it goes!

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