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4 Ways to Boost Your Productivity at Work. Kanban Style

Updated on February 20, 2018

"Multitasking is the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time."

Hard to Stay Focused.

Nowadays, we all have a problem with productivity and there are a lot of factors that keep us away from doing our job the right way.

We have to deal with tons of emails, which in some cases may take our whole day. At the same time, our colleagues and partners distract us all the time with instant messages via Skype, Slack or any other instant messaging tool. On top of this, we receive new work requests constantly. So, we wonder what to start, what to stop, what to hold. Does it sound familiar? I bet it does.

What do we do about it?

1.Stop Starting and Start Finishing.

This will probably sound crazy for some of you, but you really have to apply this principle in your daily work routine.

You need to stay focused and perform one task at a time. It is scientifically proven that human's brain split the effort while doing many things simultaneously. So if you do a couple of things at the same you will need much more time to complete all of them compared to if you did them one by one.

In other words, make a to-do list, put all your tasks in a waiting column and pull tasks one by one. Even if you are tempted to start a new task, don't do it until you finish the current one.

Yes, it is hard because the work environment is pretty dynamic these days, but believe it or not you will be able to finish more work this way.

There are so many different tools that can help you. You can use to-do list tools, kanban board software tools, scrum boards and so on.

Don't say that you don't have time to explore new tools. Just keep it simple. Start by drawing three columns on a whiteboard (or paper), "to do", "in progress" and "done". Begin tracking your work and you will see how productivity improves (focus on only one thing at a time). You will love it.

2. Visualize Your Work. It Is Much Easier.

As mentioned above visualizing your work can help you increase productivity drastically. Of course, there is a reason for this. Human brain process visuals much faster than text. And there is a lot of scientific evidence. For example, according to the Social Science Research Network, 65% of people are visual learners. Furthermore, according to HubSpot’s social media scientist Dan Zarrella found tweets with images are 94% more likely to be retweeted than tweets without. Last but not least, according to 3M, the company behind Post-it Notes, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.

It seems pretty clear - visualize your work, track, measure and improve.

Visualizing your work
Visualizing your work | Source

3. Prioritize the Urgent Work.

I have received so many emails or requests with URGENT status. In reality, only around 15% of them were really urgent. Maybe even less. So be careful with this.

Next time when someone tells you "this is urgent" think about it. People take advantage of the situation or their position and use this word a lot. I mean it is annoying. Urgency means that something needs to be done for the survival of your company, product or project. "Can you send me the latest social media engagement rates?” is not urgent.

4. Stop Answering Instant Messages.

I am astonished by how annoying people can be in the workplace. But it is not their fault. It is your fault.

When people write you on Skype (or any other internal communication channel), just don't answer. Especially, if you are in a workflow. These distractions are devastating for your overall productivity. And please, don't say this is multitasking and you are really good at it. No, you are not. There isn't such a thing as multitasking. This is task-switching. Your brain literally stops working on the current task and focuses on the new one. And when you decide to go back the most frequent question is "Now, where was I?"

So stay focused and keep the distractions away for a while. You can answer the question "Did you read this article?" in a little while. It won't go away.

Closing Words.

I don't say it is a universal panacea for unproductive people, but if you stay focused and keep the distractions away, you will probably boost your productivity level. Significantly.

As I mentioned earlier there are many different tools you can use to visualize your work and track it. They can really help you and your team to stay focused and prioritize your work. Just pick one and try or do it with sticky notes. Whatever suits your needs.

Just stay focused and get things done.


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    • profile image

      Nice 8 weeks ago

      Good one. Just wondering how to explain to my boss that multitasking is nothing, but a major time-waster

    • Dima Frost profile image

      Dima Frost 2 months ago

      Someone needs to develop an autoresponder chatbot that would reply to all of those messages people keep sending us...

      "Multitasking is the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time." - LOVE this quote :D

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