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January can undoubtedly be one of the most difficult times of the year to feel motivated and productive. Many are fed-up about going back to work after the Christmas holidays, feeling the pinch after over-spending and, let’s face it, the weather is awful, which doesn’t help.

However, it doesn’t have to be so blue.

With these productivity tips, you can turn your January into a time where, instead of moping about the office, you seize new opportunities and plan for an exciting year ahead.

From your own perspective…

Start your morning with a catch-up meeting with your colleagues

Sometimes when you get to work in the morning you can often forget what you were doing yesterday and what you need to do today, making you procrastinate for a while as you sort things out. It can be really useful to have a quick 10-minute chat with your colleagues to set out a game plan for the day, so everyone is clear on their goals. You can also write this out into a list and predict how long each task will take so you can give yourself a rough plan for the day.

Set yourself deadlines

A lot of people, understandably, find deadlines stressful but they can be a really useful way of keeping you on track and your mind focused. You can also tell your colleagues of your deadlines to give yourself a little bit more of a motive to stick to them.

Implement the ‘two-minute rule’

Entrepreneur, Steve Olenski has the theory that if any tasks pop up through the day that will take you two minutes or less to complete, you should do them straight away. This way you will get everything done more efficiently and it will take less time than piling them all up and doing them all later.

Give yourself regular breaks

This may sound counter-productive but giving yourself breaks will help you to maintain a constant level of performance during longer tasks. If you work on the same task for several hours without having a break, it will likely lead to a steady decline in productivity. This will also help your concentration and overall mood throughout the day.

Stop multitasking

It’s easy to believe that multitasking can increase efficiency and productivity, but it can make your mind less focused, taking longer to finish each of the individual tasks. It’s good to get into the habit of completing one project before starting the next and you should complete each one faster.

From an employer’s perspective…
If you are employer or manager there are a few key ways that you can motivate your staff and help them to be more productive in their work.

Introduce productivity related bonuses

Giving some form of financial stake in the business can be a powerful way to motivate staff. If productivity and therefore profit increases, they will see the direct benefit. This could, for example, be via a share option where staff would have a genuine stake in the company’s success. Alternatively, you could offer a productivity induced bonus system. For example, if the company’s productivity output increases by a certain percentage then staff receive a bonus.

Allow your staff adequate breaks

Even though it may sound counter-productive, encouraging staff to take adequate breaks and to use their annual leave entitlement will massively help productivity levels. Staff who are overworked will inevitably burn-out and productivity levels will fall as staff become tired and unable to concentrate as well as they could. You should also encourage staff to take extra care of their health, especially around this time of year where colds are even more common, as good health with have a positive impact on peoples’ ability to work effectively.

Delegate, give responsibility and welcome ideas

The first important thing is not to micromanage your staff. Not only can this waste valuable management time, but it can become frustrating and counter-productive to those staff members who work better with some space. Alongside this, it may help to delegate and give additional responsibilities to certain employees. Some people work better with increased ownership and the feeling that their opinions and ideas are welcomed and important.

Do what you can to help

People will be less productive if they are not properly trained or have the right equipment and tools to do their job – this is something you, as an employer or manager, can provide. Investing in up-to-date systems and staff training and development is definitely worthwhile.  If properly targeted, it will certainly pay back your investment as you will reap the rewards through more productive staff.

Resolve any concerns promptly

Also ensure that any concerns or grievances are listened to by management and problems are solved as effectively possible. If staff feel that they aren’t being heard or they don’t feel valued, eventually they will switch off.  This can have serious consequences for the business as having disengaged staff is one of the key factors that affects productivity.


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