I’m never sure what to advise with office productivity. No two businesses are the same, and some pieces of advice can’t be reconciled with other pieces. Sometime I say that people should go with the ideas they feel comfortable with, but then I worry that the idea we resist could be the very thing we need to set things straight. That being said, here are some ideas that others have found useful.

  • Act immediately on Phone messages. Letting these accumulate will make you feel frustrated.
  • Stand during phone calls. This seems to keep them shorter, and means you won’t have to sit all day.
  • Anything that can be done quickly, say in 5 minutes, should be done immediately. This prevents procrastination, and makes you feel like you already have several things done today.
  • Jot down ideas when you have them. If you feel stuck on a task later on, but find you have three or four ideas already written down, this can be enough to break the writing block. This is best with anything that requires some creativity.
  • Before you leave at the end of the day write out a list of things for tomorrow, or have a task waiting to be done. Some people finds this helps put things out of their conscious mind when they go to bed.
  • You will have to say no to some tasks. You probably can’t say no to your boss, but you will have to be judicious. If the quality of you work suffers it is better to do a fewer task but keep the quality up.
  • Some people find classical music (or baroque) helps concentration. Some people prefer running water.
  • Make the distinction between urgent and important, remembering that some things are both. Urgent needs to be done straight away, and may benefit from a little adrenalin. Important tasks may have a longer time scale, but it is too easy to put them aside and end up neglecting them. Do some of these every day, and they will be near complete soon enough.
  • Constantly changing can help. If a task is difficult, but not urgent, do it for an hour at a time, and do easier (or at least different) tasks in between. Eat lunch away from the desk and find way to break routine and monotony.

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