How can you squeeze more out of your day?

I was asked to participate in Ben Yoskovitz’s project to put together the Ultimate Guide to Productivity. He’s asking for your one best idea to increase your productivity.

When I was retained by Microsoft to be their workplace effectiveness spokesperson, I was asked to come up with some of my best quick productivity tips. The article, “Accomplish More at Work So You Can Spend More Time With Your Family” was created because they wanted me to show people how to leave work at a reasonable time.

So while Ben just wants just one, I’ll share a few with you. If you want the whole list of 13, just download the article.

• Redeploy the Troops (Your Past Work)
Don’t start from scratch if you’ve already created work you can reuse, even if it’s just a part. If you need to write a memo, start with the email you wrote to your boss on this topic. You’ve already invested time to compose and craft your message, and spell check. Tweak that work so can save your time.

• Continuously Improve
Ask yourself if you could accomplish your tasks with less effort. Monitor your activities throughout the day and ask yourself “Is there a way I could improve how I do this? Could I accomplish it in fewer steps?” There are lots of ways to shortcut your tasks if you invest a few minutes to learn. Macros, programmable keys on your keyboard and mouse, all help you save time and accomplish more.

• Caution: Brake for Interruptions

Most people break for interruptions—they break their concentration and allow phone calls, visitors and emails to break into completing a task. There are times it is quicker to just deal with the interruption, like when a coworker comes by and says she needs your urgent input. But you want to practice putting the brake on interruptions. That can mean not answering your phone for an hour, not reading your email immediately, or gently asking a coworker if you can discuss his recent vacation over lunch. You won’t have to come in early or stay late to have uninterrupted time if you put the brake on interruptions throughout the day.

Practice “No-ing”
Do you get asked to participate in activities you have no interest in or don’t want to make time for? Most people are invited to participate in work or non-work endeavors, and don’t know how to say no. If you are asked by a coworker to attend a holiday party-planning meeting, and you have no interest in this, try saying “Thank you for the invitation. I’m going to pass on the planning committee this year.” By saying no, you’ll focus your energies on projects that are more stimulating to you.

What are some of your best tips? Share them here in a comment as well as on Ben’s blog.

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