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10 tips on how to be more productive at work

A woman attempts to clear her workspace by spreading her arms across her desk to part an assorted mess that includes paperclips, files, sticky notes, colored pencils, a cup of coffee and an office plant.
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November 22, 2021

Productivity is how we measure success in the workplace, but for some people reaching that state of "flow" doesn’t come as easily as it might for others.

If you’re struggling to stay at the top of your game, refining your workplace strategy could be the change you need to boost your performance, reduce stress and help you feel more confident at work. Here are 10 useful tips on how to be more productive at work that can help you get ahead of your workload.

How to be more productive at work:

1. Stay organized.

Organization is key to being productive at work. Having all your ducks in a row, making checklists of daily, weekly and monthly tasks and organizing your emails from a priority and topic perspective will make you more successful in tackling your to-do’s. Keeping a work planner can help you keep track of important dates, meetings, vacations and appointments.

2. Match your desk to your workflow.

When looking for guidance on how to arrange your desk, start by envisioning your typical workday and consider which objects are most important to your role.

Much of your desk space will be used to accommodate essential items, such as your monitor(s), keyboard, mouse and phone. Organize these items in a way that allows you to access them without needing to move or rearrange them. While you’re at it, be sure to keep some extra desk space available for writing and reviewing documents.

3. Clear unnecessary clutter.

It's time to do away with the “What if I need this for later?” mentality. If you have not used an item within the past two weeks, then you most likely don’t need it.

Block off some time to go through each of the items currently cluttering your desk and determine whether they pass this “two week" test. You’ll be surprised how many items you end up clearing from your workstation – and how much more productive you feel once they're gone.

4. Color-code your cubicle.

Color-coding your notes is an effective way of helping your brain process information and prioritize tasks. If an item on your to-do list is due tomorrow, write it in red. Something that’s due in a couple of weeks might be written in blue since it is less urgent.

If you still use paper files, it may be worth investing in some colored folders or labels as well. Color-coding your filing cabinet will help you find documents quicker and make it easier to file them away once you’re done with them.

5. Focus on your health and wellness.

Never underestimate the importance of getting a good night’s rest, eating well and staying active. It’s easy to neglect your own physical health when work gets tense, but it's at times like these when self-care is most important. By doing these things, you will have more energy, and having more energy allows you to accomplish more tasks during working hours.

6. Drink caffeine (in moderation).

Although we should not rely on caffeine from a wellness perspective (see point five), it is OK to get that extra boost of caffeine throughout the day to be productive.

7. Declutter your digital space

Computers have made it easier than ever to share files in the workplace, but they also enable us to hoard loads of unnecessary documents. Take the time to go through your work computer’s personal storage and remove any documents that are no longer needed, and make it a habit to go through these folders monthly.

If possible, sort your computer’s folders in a way that supports your workflow. Sorting by alphabetical order might make sense if you need to find an old document by name, but not if you're constantly grabbing the latest document in a folder that houses hundreds of other files. In this case, sorting by file creation date could save you loads of time.

8. Utilize technology.

Sometimes improving your productivity can be as easy as taking the time to learn the tools and applications that are already at your fingertips. Your company’s applications likely have a wealth of hidden features designed to improve your workflow. For example, Microsoft Outlook has an email message template feature that can save you the trouble of retyping repetitive emails.

By taking learning & development courses at your organization, you will be able to keep up with technology. At Schneider, we offer over 170 courses for our associates to take to continue to educate them on the latest and greatest technologies.

9. Reset your workspace daily.

Getting organized and staying organized are two completely different things. Cleaning up probably isn’t your biggest priority after a full shift, but a tidy desk can do wonders for your morning mindset. Before you leave work, spend a few minutes cleaning up your workspace so you can start the next workday with a clean slate. This nightly tidying session should include:

  • Placing items back in their designated spot (pens, headsets, etc.)
  • Filing away any stray paperwork or notes.
  • Tossing trash in the wastebasket.
  • Washing empty glasses, mugs or drinking containers.
  • Wiping down your entire desk, including your mouse and keyboard.

10. Take time for yourself.

Taking time for yourself can help prevent burnout and give you a greater appreciation for your work.

If you’re looking for ways to create a better work-life balance, you can start by taking your lunch break away from your desk every day.Don’t bring work home if you do not need to, and don’t check your work email through your personal phone. Also, use your vacation time. That’s what it’s there for!

Looking to improve in your career?

We’ve written dozens of blogs about professional development – covering topics about how to ace your interview, how to have a great first day at a new job and more. Read them all.

About the author
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April Fameree is an Operation Support Manager in Schneider's intermodal division. She started her career with Schneider in 2010 as a Customer Service Representative and has held many other roles including Area Specialist, Customer Service Support Manager and Operations Support Admin. When she's not leading her team, April enjoys spending time with her son and also works part-time as an assistant manager at a movie theatre.

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