How to be more productive in work in 2021
For many, the New Year is a time to focus on personal resolutions such as getting fit, organising the house, or saving money. This year, what if we focused on putting our work life in order too - effectively gaining more space to cope with the demands of super-busy modern business life, make working in start-ups a bit easier or even get that next promotion?
Workers are currently facing what we call triple overload: data, communication and cognitive. As a result, the UK may be falling behind when it comes to productivity.
This is proven by a recent report that found UK workers are 26% less productive than their German counterparts (ONS survey). And the UK is below-par when it comes to productivity, falling behind the average for the other six members of the G7 group of industrial nations by 16% (ONS survey).
Here are some top tips you can follow to get ready for next year by being more organised and productive in 2021.
Set achievable goals and share them publicly
The first step to successfully increasing your productivity is setting resolutions you can realistically achieve.
If you’ve always struggled to be super organised, it may not be realistic to say you’ll have organised your entire office by the end of January 2021. But organising your desk space could be an achievable goal for you.
Small changes can help you build momentum and get meaningful results by helping to motivate you through small but solid wins.
Next, share your goals publicly. Research shows that writing down and sharing your resolutions with people who can help support you increases the chances of sticking to them in the long run. These people can help motivate you to achieve your goals, particularly when you are struggling.
Avoid cognitive overload
To be more productive in 2021, you need to learn to protect your attention to avoid cognitive overload (aka brain overload).
This is crucial as research shows that a knowledge worker gets interrupted or switches tasks every three to five minutes on average.
This in turn leads to an unhealthy cognitive overload, exhaustion, and mini burnouts by the end of the working day.
To start, think about when you are at your best and how you can protect your best-attention-time - when you do your best work on tasks that are the most mentally taxing and require the most concentration and focus.
Next, close your email inbox and put away your mobile phone. Both tools are big distractions for many of us and the secret to achieving a space in the day when you can focus and avoid cognitive overload is to reduce or remove distractions.
Limit your app list
Many productivity improvements come from changing our own habits, or better understanding the problem we’re faced with. For instance, a survey we did at Evernote found that more than half of UK app users (57%) feel frustrated when they can’t find something they need.
This often happens in the age of information overload, when we can’t remember where we saved something.
There are too many apps promising to solve our stresses and strains. This means it is much better to find a few apps that save you time and make you more productive, learn them thoroughly and stick with them.
For instance, Evernote can help you to capture ideas and find them fast.
Make meetings more productive
Meeting with your colleagues can use up a lot of time. This doesn’t leave much time left to do deep work, the most valuable, important and mentally taxing tasks.
In fact, according to an article by Rob Cross et al knowledge workers spend around 80% of their working time communicating or collaborating through emails, meetings, chat and messenger.
Try making meetings more productive by shrinking them. Your calendar may default to creating 30-minute or 60-minute meetings, but do they have to be that long?
Change your calendar settings to default to 25-minute or 50-minute meetings and add back hours of time in your week to work on your most important tasks.
Adding a clear agenda to every meeting (and asking for one ahead of time when someone else has scheduled the meeting), will also help. You may even find you can skip a meeting when you know what’s being discussed and the goals ahead of time.
Ultimately, a few hours preparing and planning at the start of the year could make a massive difference to how organised and productive (and successful) you are in work in 2021.