6 Proactive Work Habits

In a world of burgeoning media and 24-7 communications, we are constantly bombarded by messages and distractions that ultimately compromise our ability to perform efficiently on the job. Email, texting, Facebook, Twitter, etc. all play a part in taking our focus away from the task at hand. Here are some simple but effective ways to increase your productivity:

Set aside a block of time
Compartmentalizing your time gives you the ability to create and absorb instead of reacting to communication stimuli. This is probably best scheduled in the morning when you are freshest, and serves in part, as a time of meditation when you get the proverbial mental juices flowing. These quiet moments can ease you into our day — fully engaged and ready to accomplish great things.

Create a clean workspace
If you want to be most efficient, you need to be aware of your work environment. Organized files and desks sans clutter go a long way toward a work-conducive environment. Perhaps soft background music will help you focus and limit outside noise. Also, something as simple as shutting the office door, or ‘holding all calls’ for a specific amount of time will sharpen your focus, enhance your creative thinking and help you reach your goals quicker.

Only dummies decline to delegate
For those of us with a highly developed sense of responsibility, it can be easy to over-manage every task and project that comes within our radar. Perhaps you fit into this category and easily find yourself adding more and more to your workload throughout the day, by convincing yourself, ‘this shouldn’t take long.’ Eventually, the sheer number of these tasks will overwhelm even the most productive person, endangering long term goals. Be able to trust that your coworkers are competent and capable of handling projects and meeting crucial deadlines without your constant monitoring/micromanaging.

Prioritize tasks into “now” and “later”
When overwhelmed with projects and communications, try to prioritize tasks using two types of lists: 1) urgent tasks to be completed that day, and 2) future goals. With this game plan, projects on a strict deadline will get your immediate attention, while any time left over will be put toward achieving the goals you’ve made for a later date. In this same vein, if you make lists on a weekly, monthly, and yearly time-line, you will have a bigger picture of where you’re going, and what needs to be done, taking baby steps to accomplish future goals.

Block out time for correspondence
If you have an overabundance of daily work emails and phone calls, it may be best to set aside a regular time dedicated to responding to those communications, perhaps an hour or two out of the day. This way you can respond to everyone effectively, without having your entire day peppered with hastily answered calls/emails in between other job responsibilities and deadlines.

Decrease “insecurity work”
Insecurity work describes the activities performed throughout the day which don’t have any bearing on positive outcomes. In plain English, busy work stemming from neurosis. Checking and rechecking information. Unconsciously, we’ve all become accustomed to constantly checking online media — such as email, stocks, credit information, and breaking news, throughout the work day without really being aware of the time it steals from our schedule. Rather than compulsively peeking every few minutes, set aside a block of time, perhaps 20 minutes, to keep abreast of important information or headlines without monopolizing a huge chunk of your day.

Your work environment will always be somewhat chaotic — dealing with co-workers and clients and others make constant stimulation and distractions inevitable. Being aware of the entire process, taking it all in, prioritizing time and enhancing the quality of your environment, will help you become a more important and effective part of the team without going crazy in the process!

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