productivity-at -work

There’s never enough time to get it all done; is there? Yet it’s more than possible to improve your productivity at work.

Whether it’s being buried under an avalanche of emails every morning, or finding that you never make solid progress on tasks because of constant distractions.

It seems like you could stay at the office until 10 pm every night and still never make it to the end of your to-do list.

As a manager, your ability to get things done is paramount. You are the leader of the team, so falling behind on your work is not an option.

Luckily, there are some simple productivity strategies that will transform how you go about your day, and in doing so, rescue precious hours from the abyss.


1. Eat your frogs for breakfast.

Mark Twain once wrote ‘Eat a live frog for breakfast, and nothing worse will happen to you all day long’, meaning that you should always attack your least-favoured task first thing in the morning.

Then you are likely to benefit from the surge of pride, momentum and let’s be honest relief that it’s out of the way. It works, we promise.


2. Know where your time goes.



It’s all too common to lose track of time, only to catch a glimpse of the clock at 4 pm and say, ‘Where did the day go? I’m still on my morning task list!'

This shouldn’t happen.

Every task should be scheduled carefully the afternoon before, with an estimate of how long it will take. When the scheduled time has passed, you should assess how vital the task is and whether it’s worth throwing off the entire day’s schedule to continue with it, or whether you’re better off leaving it for another day.

When starting out on your productivity revolution, take the time to note down everything you do for a week. You’ll probably be amazed at how much time is spent on non-vital tasks, and how much longer things tend to take than you imagine. The good thing is knowledge truly is power, and this information will totally transform your planning.


3. Schedule per your productive powerhouse times.

You will have heard that human beings are different in the levels of performance throughout the day. For some people, it’s early in the morning, a rare few in the afternoon, but for most adults, the most productive time of day is late morning.

Schedule your high-priority and cognitive tasks to this time when your brain has ‘warmed up’ and is performing in top gear.


4. Work in blocks of time.

90-minute blocks are an ideal period in which to apply great focus on a task, followed by a 30-minute down time break. However, we understand that this isn't always possible in every business sector, but it has been proven to deliver outstanding results, according to Tony Schwartz, the New York Times bestselling author.

Depending on your environment, the focus period may be shorter, with a shorter break, such as 50 minutes work followed by a 10-minute break.

During that break, move away from your desk and preferably out of the office, or if that’s not possible, switch your attention to a non-cognitive task like filing or catching up on basic admin so your brain has time to recuperate, rest and reset.


5. Don’t email when a conversation would take less time.



This is something that happens a lot in the modern office, where emailing seems easier than walking across the office for a quick chat, or than picking up the phone.

Yet an endless back-and-forth email sequence is time-consuming and bothersome, and can even cause misunderstandings.

Who hasn’t spent far too much time ‘trying’ to locate an email trail, most of which is irrelevant, when a quick phone call would have done the job.

Technology is a great helper and sometimes a hindrance. Consider when to email and when to have a quick chat.


6. Minimise distractions.

This can sometimes be a challenge for a supportive manager, as one of your primary roles is to offer support whenever your team needs it. Yet you can find ways of cutting down on distractions by:

  • Blocking social media.

  • Turning off distracting notifications.

  • Allocating email time slots.

  • Arriving at the office half an hour earlier so you can power through your emails before anyone arrives.

7. Ditch the senseless attempts at multi-tasking.



After years of being told that managers must be brilliant multi-taskers, science has now proven that multi-tasking doesn’t work and is a downright terrible time-waster. What happens when we try to multi-task is that our brain attempts to switch rapidly between tasks, thereby losing proper concentration on any of the tasks at all.

Our minds take the time to warm up before settling into a task, so use that single-focus to finish what you’re working on before moving on to something else.

We realise that managers don’t always have the luxury of concentration with so many people depending on you for advice, but when your attention is called away from something you’re doing, make a note of where you are and then turn to fully concentrate on the next challenge.

Attempting to keep your brain on two tasks simultaneously will likely result in the fact that you do both poorly.


There is an art to effective time management, one that will create breathing spaces in your day that you couldn’t imagine possible. If you want to get out from that dark cloud of endless to-do lists and self-recrimination, then we suggest that the way you approach your working day needs a serious revamp. If you commit to it, you’ll be amazed at how well it works.


Can we help? We have placed and filled over 100,000 temp and permanent assignments over the last 30 years so have a range of techniques, ideas and platforms which could help you. Why not call us on 0113 367 2880 to have a conversation with one of our team. Alternatively drop us an email here or check out our Testimonials and Case Studies.


About the Author: Lucy Walker

Lucy Walker is the founder and Managing Director at Lucy Walker Recruitment.Lucy has an extensive knowledge of the issues and workings of the West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester Commercial markets developed over 25 years in the profession