3 simple productivity tips to help you perform better at work

Productivity means optimising your entire life, not just work 

Zlata Rodionova
Thursday 03 March 2016 16:01 GMT
Most busy professionals rarely have three hours of interrupted time to finish a report
Most busy professionals rarely have three hours of interrupted time to finish a report (Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


We all aspire to getting more done in less time, but how to make it habitual and lasting in the long term?

Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist and professional speaker who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She has identified three simple ways to be more productive at work.

1. Productivity means optimising your entire life, not just work

Changing the way you act in your personal life make you more productive in the office if you act strategically.

The key is to concentrate on one activity that will influence multiple areas such as work, private life, community or civic relationship and health in a positive way.

It is the concept of the four-way win, developed by Stew Friedman, a Wharton professor.

Clark gave the example of a lunchbreak where, instead of wolfing down a sandwich at your desk, you eat a healthy lunch with a co-worker you like. This simultaneously benefiting your health, your professional life and your sense of community.

“You might not normally consider ‘eating lunch’ to be a productive activity, but seen through Friedman’s lens, you’re actually hitting multiple goals,” Clark wrote in Harvard Business Review.

2. Match the task to the amount of focus necessary to accomplish it

Another way to be more productive is to manage your energy and not your time.

Clark said to keep a list of tasks that need to be accomplished but require less mental energy.

“It takes me substantially more brainpower to write an article than to read one, for instance, so I’ve learned to schedule my writing when I’m in the morning, at my freshest,” Clark said.

If you work better in the evening, the expert suggests starting slow in the morning and leaving the challenging tasks for later in the day.

3. Use shorts busts of time well

Most busy professionals rarely have three hours of interrupted time to finish a report.

This leaves many with small breaks of 30 to 60 minutes between meetings, which some consider too short to start a meaningful task.

But this is where we are going wrong, Clark said.

“Because those blocks are so short, planning out how we’re going to spend them doesn’t seem necessary, most of us just default to answering email or, worse, get caught up in a social media vortex until it’s time to head to our next obligation,” Clark said.

She advises to examine your calendar the night before, identify the gaps in your schedule, and create a special micro-goals list of what you want to accomplish.

“The secret to productivity is sustaining your commitment and keeping up your discipline over time. By understanding what productivity really means to you, matching your energy to the task at hand, and leveraging even short amounts of free time, you can make serious progress on the most important goals,” she said.

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