productivity on the moveAre you accomplishing as much as you could in your day? By upping your productivity, you can get more done in less time, meaning you don’t need to work long into the evening just to be able to say you’ve done a good day’s work.

Getting more done isn’t always a matter of training, experience and luck. There are so many little things you can do – things that might take minutes to put into place but that will let you claw back hours even from a single week. Here are just some of the cheats you need to get ahead.

Take your email offline

Email is obviously incredibly useful, but it’s also a massive time sink. Many of us could spend our full working days just handling email alone, so clearly some kind of system is needed. There are so many ways you can deal with the constant influx of messages, but a simple one is to just take your Outlook offline whenever you sit down to tackle your mail.

You’ll stem the flow and be able to watch your unread count go down…at least temporarily. Your outgoing responses will stack up in the outbox, and ping off one by one when you go back online. Marketing guru Ryan Holiday even says he plans an internet-free flight whenever he feels the need to plough through his inbox.

Cancel your meetings

Like emails, meetings were once useful and necessary. But once you get to thinking about it, you’ll probably find many of yours are just a waste of everyone’s time.

We’re thinking of the meetings where attendees just talk about what everybody already knows, or where fiddling on your phone would actually be a better use of time. In particular, reconsider regularly scheduled meetings – do you really need to set aside a full hour every week with your team? Or would a quick email with bulleted objectives and reports serve the purpose just as well?

Having said that however, many meetings clearly are still worth attending – particularly those with clients, suppliers, job candidates and other outside parties. Keep the ones that make sense.

Address quick tasks first

Need to send a quick email? How about requesting some information from a co-worker? If you’ve a small, two-minute task you need to handle, completing it right away can be the best way. You’ll make your task list much smaller and avoid the temptation to keep putting tasks off, letting them slip through the cracks.

Alternatively, you might want to do the unpleasant tasks first thing when you get to the office – got an uncomfortable call to make? Consider just doing it rather than writing it down and letting it linger on your to-do list for a week.

Get up earlier

Do you take the time to start the day right? If you’re someone who rolls out of bed and leaves the house ten minutes later, you’re probably giving up a lot of time that you could be getting stuff done.

We’re not all born early risers, so try this: push your alarm clock time back fifteen minutes each week, place your alarm clock across the room from your bed, and give yourself a morning reward – like an extra slice of toast or a cup of gourmet coffee – after getting up on time.

Remember to get to bed in good time as well (seven or eight hours before waking) and be sure to eat breakfast.

Clear up the clutter

It might not seem that important, but the style and state of your working spot has a big impact on how much you get done. A clear and organised desk has the effect of clarifying your thoughts and reducing distractions, not to mention that you’re less likely to lose things on it than one that’s piled high with papers.

It’s also important to have plenty of light in your space, and fewer attention hogs such as a window onto a busy street or a TV blaring in the background. Regular readers will remember we wrote a little recently on how to work from home – what we had to say about workspaces is bound to be useful even if you work in a shared office!

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