We spend a lot of time at work. Many of us put in long hours, often a lot more than the traditional 40 hours a week. Time spent at work is supposed to be an indicator of dedication, ambition, and productivity.
But, on closer inspection, how productive are we really? How much of the time that we spend at work is really devoted to work, to the things that we really need to get done, rather than busywork?
For example, say you have been working for the past six hours on a presentation. But during that time you also have spent time surfing the web, looking at Facebook, checking email, and talking with coworkers. You may have actually put in only four to five hours of work.
To improve productivity, what you need to do is keep a record of what you do during the day and how long you spend doing it. It is simply a list of the things that you do and when you start and finish them. This will give you some idea of how productive you really are. It is a tedious thing to do, and it will interfere somewhat with your work when you do it. But you only need to do it for about a week to be able to get a good idea of what your productivity is really like.
After you have made your record, look at the activities on it that are essentially time sinks when you are essentially accomplishing nothing. Make a list of these activities, and determine how you can address them to improve productivity. You may, for example, try to eliminate them entirely, do them after work, or try to cut back on the time you spend doing them.
After you have eliminated or reduced these superfluous activities, compile another record of your work, marking down again what you do during the day and how long you spend doing it to see if there is any improvement in productivity.
Make a practice of compiling these records occasionally to keep track of your performance, say four times a year. This will let you know if you are maintaining your performance levels, or if you need to make an adjustment.
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