Optimizing Productivity: Hacks that Actually Work

Productivity should be at the top of your list of things to improve for 2024, and with good reason. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual average employee productivity decreased by more than 1.3% in 2022. That is the largest yearly decline since the 70’s. Part of this decline has to do with leadership, and part of it has to do with how leaders are implementing productivity optimization.

The 2-minute rule:

The 2-minute rule is an effective hack that helps avoid procrastination among the smaller tasks. The rule was first established by David Allen in his book, Getting Things Done. Holding concentration for tasks that require a state of deep focus is key for workflow. Studies have found that constant interruptions can damage the quality of work that’s produced. For heavier tasks that demand focus, it’s not effective to start and stop all the time—this is where the 2-minute rule is very effective. Try to block off more time for complex tasks that require deeper thinking. But for tasks that don’t require deep focus, identify smaller tasks that can be done quickly. Tasks like responding to emails first thing in the morning, reading a company memo, and prepping to-do lists for the next workday. Basically, for anyone tired of process and procedure, this rule is easy to follow and can be implemented immediately.

Time Blocking:

Time blocking is a time management method that divides the day into blocks of time. Each block is dedicated to accomplishing a specific task or group of tasks, and only those specific tasks. Instead of keeping an open-ended to-do list of things “to get to” when you can, start each day with a concrete schedule outlining what will be worked on and when. If priority items come up, build time into the schedule for possible “priority items.” The purpose is to prioritize in advance. Having employees (and leaders) learn to do this eliminates the need to constantly make choices each day on what needs to be focused on. There are different approaches to time blocking, which can be implemented during yearly training or on-boarding.

Eliminate unnecessary meetings: 

Help employees be more productive by addressing institutional time-wasting. This includes eliminating overly long or unnecessary meetings, clarifying workflows, and providing access to mission-critical resources. Limit the number of weekly meetings and empower employees to skip meetings or seminars that aren’t relevant to their current priorities. Also, consider using technology that can help increase collaboration (especially when employees need to skip meetings to get work done) and save time.

Trying to build a more productive team?

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