Shift Gears for Productivity in Tough Times

In a struggling economy, you’ve got to work smart and shift your productivity into high gear.

While no job is ever 100% secure, becoming a model of efficiency gives you a better chance of surviving while the low-hanging fruit in your department or corporation is plucked first.

Even if your job isn’t at risk, extra productivity will get you noticed as the employee who contributes significantly to the company’s bottom line.

Here’s what to do:

1. Set priorities and keep them.

Think about organizing tasks according to what benefits the company profits first.

Generally speaking, committing yourself to these tasks will earn the respect of your seniors while tangibly helping the company. If your priorities are set in the order of financial return first and personal needs second, you’ll find that your productivity skyrockets.

Not least, you’ll have some results to present at promotion time or to list on your résumé or CV.

2. Set deadlines.

As the adage goes, work expands to fill the time available.

Set the deadlines of your most important projects ahead of the actual, expected delivery time. This gives you time to review. If you’re a habitual late worker, give yourself a deadline for leaving the office daily. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that your productivity goes up because you’re under the gun.

3. Carve out a block of time to return calls.

While phone tag is an immense time waster, not returning calls or returning them late is even worse.

Make an effort to have a same-day turn around on all your calls so you keep clients and colleagues happy. More importantly, you clear obligations from your daily slate so you can start the next day fresh.

4. Deal with matters as they arise.

Don’t procrastinate.

If something pressing arises that you can knock out quickly, do it now and get it out of the way. If it’s something that can’t be done immediately, make sure you schedule it and follow through.

Always finish what you start—better to have one or two tasks complete than five or six half done.

5. Keep a current to-do list.

To maintain productivity, it’s absolutely critical to maintain a status report on what is complete and what is not. Tapping your temple and saying “it’s all in here” isn’t enough.

You need to keep a current, running list of what needs to be done, ideally in the correct priority.

There is no secret to increasing your productivity, but you’ll find that most tasks and routines revolve around your organizational skills. Strong organizational skills usually mean increased productivity—the opposite is also true.

A cluttered desk, for example, is synonymous with low productivity: if you can’t keep a desk under control, how can you handle your workload?

A few simple corrections and improvements will go a long way toward increasing your productivity—and the productivity of your company.

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