TMCnet Feature
November 26, 2019

An IT Professional's Guide to Increasing Productivity at Work

How Leading IT Pros Maximize Productivity on the Job

In the highly competitive IT space, every little thing you can do to optimize your schedule towards maximum productivity is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, it’s often easier said than done. If you want to increase your output, you need a proactive plan.

What Does it Mean to be Productive?

We use the word a lot, but have you ever paused long enough to consider what it means to be productive?

Contrary to popular belief, productivity isn’t exclusively about output. It’s more about what you do with what you have. It’s how you handle your energy and effort within the constraints of limited time and resources. Productive people do more with less.

As you approach your job in IT, you have to consider how you’re doing within your constraints. You don’t necessarily have to do more than the next person. Your objective should be to use your time and energy wisely. If you do this with a degree of consistency, good things will happen.

6 Ways You Can Improve Productivity at Work

Old habits are hard to break. But in order to increase your overall level of productivity, you must be willing to override some of the practices and routines you’ve grown accustomed to over the years. And if you replace them with the following techniques, you’ll almost certainly like the results.

1. Create a Schedule

The first step is to create a schedule. Walking into the office on any given morning without a schedule is a recipe for disaster. At best, you’ll stumble into a task or assignment and meander through the day. At worst, you’ll spend the bulk of your day putting out fires and waiting for the right level of flow to set in.

A good schedule is specific, but not so rigid that it prevents you from addressing small issues and challenges that emerge throughout the day. If possible, try to block out the first hour or two of your day so that you can tackle specific projects that are most important. Then leave some time in the mid-to-late morning for other random tasks that arise. Meetings are best scheduled for the afternoon hours after you’ve had time to prepare for the day and get in a groove. (All of this is subject to change based on the individual, but you get the idea.)

2. Set Small Goals

Goals are an important part of being productive, but make sure you’re smart about how you set daily and weekly objectives,

“Sometimes, looking at our goals can be overwhelming. Seeing a handful of big projects on our calendar can be stressful… but if you break it up into smaller tasks, you’ll feel more in control and will be much more productive,” Ashley Stahl writes for Forbes. “Rather than write down ‘finish project,’ break that into all the tasks it will take. This will keep you on track in your day-to-day and make the bigger projects seem less daunting.”

3. Get Up and Move Around

Working in IT is highly rewarding and exciting, but it also comes with its negatives. One of the worst aspects of working in this industry is that it forces you to remain sedentary most of the day. But if you want to be productive, you need to get up and move around.

You don’t need to get an hour-long weightlifting session in during the middle of the day, but you should make it a point to get your blood pumping. Something as simple as walking up and down a couple of flights of stairs each hour is enough to break your motionless cycle and give your body a healthy boost.

4. Eat Smaller Meals

If you aren’t careful, the decisions you make during your lunch hour can derail the rest of the day. Most people consume large, greasy meals, which end up wreaking havoc on the body (heartburn, indigestion, sleepiness, etc.). By shifting your approach and making it a point to eat smaller meals, you can avoid these outcomes.

Smaller meals lessen the chances of developing acid reflux – which can inhibit productivity and lead you to take potentially risky medications to offset symptoms – and prevent that after-lunch grogginess that heavy meals induce. Instead of trying to survive the early afternoon hours, you’ll find this timeslot becomes one of your most productive.

5. Optimize Workspace Ergonomics

Your physical office environment has a direct impact on your ability to get things done. In particular, pay attention to the ergonomics of your workspace. Here are a few pointers:

  • Position your desk chair properly so that your elbows are bent at a neutral position when using your keyboard.  Your feet should comfortably rest on the floor.
  • Your computer screen should be positioned so that the center of the screen is at eye level. If you use more than one monitor, make sure they’re all easily viewed without having to tilt or turn your head.
  • If possible, use a standing desk so that you’re able to work sitting down and standing up. This allows you to change positions and improve circulation throughout the body.

Perfectly optimizing your workspace to fit your personal needs will help you feel better and function with greater efficiency. It’ll also reduce the likelihood of chronic pain, which can put a strain on future output.

6. Eliminate Distractions

Distractions are the enemy or productivity. Unfortunately, they also happen to be ubiquitous in an IT setting. Do your best to avoid constant connectivity to social media, email, and other digital platforms. And if you need to get some work done in solitude, let people know!

“You can tell your coworkers that you don’t want to be disturbed over a period in the day when you’re going to focus on a specific task,” mentions. “You can add outgoing messages to your voicemail and email to let others know. You can even hang up a sign, if that’s what it takes to create your own cone of silence.”

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Only you can optimize your daily workflow to promote productivity. As you review some of the tips and techniques outlined in this article, look for ones that pique your interest. Try implementing a couple of these strategies this week and measure the results. Then, once you have them under control, you can begin to add other advanced strategies on top. Before you know it, you’ll be doing more within the constraints you’ve been dealt. And at the end of the day, this is what optimizing productivity looks like.

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