By Jim Wong, CPA | November 28, 2017

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” – Paul J. Meyer

It’s common for professionals of all levels to believe that multitasking is a valuable and sought after skillset in order to be productive. However, in reality, multitasking is not all that desirable and can actually hinder productivity. For example, accounting and finance professionals who constantly switch back and forth from payroll projects to collections efforts to month-end close tasks sometimes never actually end up finishing any of them.

Further, individuals who deem themselves as perfectionists can also become a hurdle to themselves and their productivity, especially as accounting, finance and information technology professionals by trade need to have their data close to perfection. Still, the most productive professionals can figure out the areas that can be left alone after multiple versions or edits in order to move on to the next step.

Overall, in order to be most efficient and at your best in terms of productivity, there are definite steps and actions you can take to accomplish this.

In fact, I came across an article earlier this week on that highlights different ways for improving your focus at work. I wanted to share some of the techniques mentioned in the article along with a few of my own thoughts in the 4 Ways to Improve Productivity at Work below.

1. Complete first things first. 
There is usually one project that tends to take over the majority of your thoughts and worries. For accounting and finance professionals, this could be your upcoming audit. For other professions, this could be the most difficult, most time-consuming or most unfamiliar task at hand. Regardless of what the significance may be, it’s important to tackle this looming project first, especially if there is a tight deadline associated with it. Set aside a sufficient amount of time in your day to complete the project before any of the smaller projects are touched. This will help alleviate the stress and worry as larger chunks of the project get completed and help you maintain a focused mindset to eventually move on to the smaller tasks.

2. Time block. 
You may not be able to block your mind from thinking about your daily tasks, but you can block your time into segments dedicated to specific projects. Short spurts of productivity are the best way to work your brain, along with a few scheduled breaks in between. The idea of time blocking is often used for individuals who spend too much time on one task. Utilizing too much time for one project can cause one to feel burnt out or overwhelmed, which results in a lack of overall productivity. To put this plan into action, start to schedule 25 minutes of time toward a specific project following with a break – following with another 25 minutes dedicated to another project.

3. Know your prime work time.
To achieve the most productivity in a day, you need to understand your highs and lows of the day – your prime work time. Some feel most focused and creative in the beginning of the day, while others work best in the evening hours. It’s important to be aware of the time of day that works best for you and determine how this can fit into the doings of the business. If your ERP system has specific cutoff times for certain automated information, be sure you adhere to those times. However, if you’re a payroll professional and are known to process more payments once the office is quieter after hours, you should do your best to schedule your time appropriately.

4. Don’t stop what you’re doing.
In order to improve productivity, you must be open to changing even the smallest work habits, such as not dropping everything you’re doing every time you receive an email, call or text. In the fast-paced world of immediacy that we’re living in, most professionals want to respond right away to every piece of communication they receive. However, this habit can eventually lead to so much back-and-forth that you lose crucial time on the project you were working on to begin with. Be sure to practice mono-tasking and focus on priorities in order to become more efficient and productive.

There are many different ways to improve productivity in the workplace. Do you have other suggestions to add? Comment below and let us know!

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