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Nine tips to streamlining your workload

Hardly anyone knows how to wade through the data deluge of the modern workforce and be truly efficient these days.

That’s according to productivity experts spoken to by The New Daily.

We’re all stressed, overloaded with information and struggling to cope with various daily distractions.

Managing director of PEPworldwide Kathryn Anda, whose company teaches productivity in 30 countries, says the secrets to sorting through the noise and staying on track are simple, but not widely known.

No-one’s actually taught us how to process information and deal with the huge 24/7 influx that’s coming now from multimedia.

The problem is that we are taught what to do, but not how to work, Ms Anda says.

“We go to school, we go to university, but no-one’s actually taught us how to process information and deal with the huge 24/7 influx that’s coming now from multimedia,” she says.

“People a hundred years ago received the same amount of information that we receive in one day’s paper in their lifetime. Technology hasn’t taught us how to deal with it.”

From her research into boosting productivity, Ms Anda has found evidence to suggest that many workers are only productive three days a week.

“They might be sitting there for 40 hours or 50 hours a week, but are they productive? Nope,” she says. “I’d rather be spending three days being productive, and having the other two off, if it was me.”

Here’s what the experts suggest you do to get your workload under control.

1. Prioritise

Ms Anda says tasks need to be completed in strict order of importance.

“It is about making choices and making decisions on what is going to get the best return for your time,” she says.

2. Clarify your role

A lot of employees – and their bosses as well – aren’t clear on what exactly needs to be done each day, Ms Anda says.

“Clarity is a really, really big one for businesses,” Ms Anda says. “If you have everyone clear on what they need to achieve and how to go about it, you’re halfway there.”

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Book time in your calendar to plan your week. Photo: Shutterstock

3. Book time in your calendar for you

Instead of using your calendar for the sole purpose of scheduling appointments with others, you should also make regular appointments to factor in your own workload.

“Otherwise, someone else is going to come along and put another meeting, an appointment, whatever, in there and you’ll be working after hours on the weekends,” Ms Anda says.

4. Take stock of your week

Using your newly personalised calendar, book in a recurring appointment on Friday afternoons to review your weekly plan.

“Take stock on a Friday afternoon, look at what you’ve done in the past week, and then look at what must be done for the next week – not the ‘like to’, just the ‘must do’,” Ms Anda says.

All it takes is 15 minutes to plan for another productive week.

5. Disconnect at home

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Don’t hang out in your car working – disconnect at home. Photo: Shutterstock

Most importantly, your home life should be sacrosanct.

“I have stories of executives whose wives have banned their phones from their house, and we’ve found them sitting in the garage in their car, checking their phone,” Ms Anda says.

Don’t be that guy.

6. Tame technology

CEO of The Performance Clinic Andrew May says that technology is to blame for much workplace inefficiency.

Mr May says this is because employees don’t know how to use today’s new gadgets and gizmos effectively. Technology often becomes a distraction that takes over our working days, rather than leveraging our output.

To fix this problem, you could:

1. Turn off pop-up email alerts.
2. Check email inbox periodically (say four or five times a day) rather than all day every day.

7. Focus

Anyone who says that multitasking is a good thing “is kidding themselves”, Mr May says.

“We have continuous partial attention and we’ve lost the ability to focus,” he says.

“There’s definitely a time to be across the grid, but we know from research and running lots of programs and feedback that when you need to do one thing, you need to do that one thing and focus on it.”

8. Hour of power

Mr May recommends working on your most important tasks at the time of the day when you are most productive and alert, whether that’s in the morning or the afternoon.

“For example, if you’re writing in your hour of power, then you’d lock yourself away and just write and focus on doing your best work for an hour and get every other distraction out of the way,” Mr May says.

9. Ditch unnecessary meetings

Mr May says work meetings can be effective if run ruthlessly, but most aren’t.

“I think the majority of corporate meetings are a total waste of time and a total distraction,” he says.

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