It's World Productivity Day today. And while being productive every day is a good thing, today's an opportunity to focus on doing things a little better than usual, trying some new tips and perhaps learning some new skills so you can get more from your time.
That way, you can perhaps move to a four-day week as many companies have, or a six-hour work day - something Sweden has been experimenting with. Here are a few tips you can try.
Ditch the voicemails
Voicemail used to be a good thing but they can be very time consuming to sort through. My current voicemail message tells the world to not leave a voicemail but to either text or email me - those are much more efficient systems for me. There are services some carriers offer that translate voicemail to text or you can use services like Google Voice.
The savings may not be massive on a single message but over a week they can add up.
Learn keyboard shortcuts
I started using a PC in the days before the mouse was a ubiquitous piece of computing kit. That forced me to become very keyboard-centric.
Learning how to select words, apply basic formatting, cut/copy/paste can help you stay more focussed on the your work. Every app, whether it's a graphics editor, specialised design tool or any other type of software will have keyboard short cuts in ot. Learn them!
Automate wherever you can
If there's a task you carry out regularly that requires following the same steps over and over, automate it.
If you do some thing five times a day that takes a minute and reduce that to a second, over the course of a week, that amounts to some serious time.
Manage your email - don't let it manage you
25 years ago, the ability to send a message to anyone in the world was revolutionary. Now it means everyone in the world can invade your inbox. Come up with a system that works for you when it comes to email. Some people are fans of the 'zero inbox' approach. That doesn't work for me.
I prefer to quarantine two or three slots in the day, of about 15 minutes each, to check through email. My rationale is that people find it very easy to send an email but harder to pick up the phone. If the email is really urgent, they'll call me. I receive well over 100 messages each day so it's not possible for me to read them all.
I have filters for email from specific people, that I create and remove depending on the project I'm working on, and delete anything that I'm not going to read, based on the subject and a two-line preview I see in my email client - I'm still old school and prefer an email client over being browser-based most of the time.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but time not working will help you work more efficiently.
Sitting at your desk all day, getting stuff done, might seem like you're being productive. The reality is that fatigue can set in pretty quickly, particularly when dealing with especially challenging tasks.
Schedule regular breaks into your day. I either go for a run or take the my dog for a walk each day - that's one of the perks of working from home. But in an office environment, set a timer on your computer, phone or smartwatch that reminds you to get up for a few minutes each hour.
Your brain will keep processing whatever you were working on in the background - it's why many of us have 'Eureka' moments standing in the shower or when were on the toilet. Breaks away from work let your brain recharge and solve problems while you think about something else.