How to increase your productivity (without overworking)

Written by Eric Titner

In today’s volatile world of work, things are rapidly evolving at near breakneck speeds, leaving workers across industries and roles scrambling just to keep up, with very little in the way of certainties. But despite this seemingly unending tidal wave of constant change, there are a few tried and true fundamentals that still stand firm—and chief among these is that maximizing your level of productivity at work, regardless of what you do, will ultimately benefit you as you strive to work your way up the career ladder.

In fact, this notion might be truer today than ever before. At a time when companies from small startups to gigantic multinational corporations are embracing lean mindsets in an effort to stay viable with as few full-time staff members as possible, those who demonstrate the ability to consistently meet target productivity milestones will be most likely to assert their value propositions—and avoid strategic layoffs and reductions when the time comes.

These days, with many of us working remotely or on altered schedules and employers and employees alike uncertain about what work will look like moving forward, a key question that inevitably arises is how to maintain or enhance productivity while keeping a healthy work-life balance. With today’s lines between our personal and professional lives blurrier than ever before, how can we show our employers that we’re dedicated, focused, and capable of producing at high levels without overworking to the point of burnout or having work completely eclipse our existence?

If you find yourself constantly asking these questions and are curious about how to increase your productivity—and impress your bosses without overworking—then keep reading!

Set realistic targets

The truth is, you’re always going to be your very best resource when it comes to setting realistic goals for what you can—and realistically cannot—achieve at work. After all, you know yourself better than anyone else and have a lifetime of successes, failures, wins, and losses to draw upon. So a great way to move forward is to first gauge your current output alongside your schedule and levels of comfort and stress, and then look for areas where you can facilitate growth and positive change. Try to identify tasks that you’re responsible for that you could feasibly handle more efficiently or effectively. Perhaps a process change or shift in when and where you handle a particular task could lead to improvements. Maybe there are aspects of a project that you can offload to colleagues to help things run more smoothly. Take a look at what your current output is and use this kind of thinking to analyze your work and help you set realistic but ambitious goals to improve upon your productivity without overdoing it. A key facet of human behavior is that we respond well to having goals set for us to work towards—use this idea to help motivate and inspire you.

Avoid the avoidable distractions

The truth is, workers are like fingerprints—no two are exactly identical, which includes their lives, commitments, and responsibilities. These days, many of us are working remotely. In this blurring of our professional and personal lives, we have to contend with a wide array of potential distractions that threaten to chip away at our work productivity—some of which are routine, predictable, and inescapable, while others are more avoidable if we choose to put in the work to do so. Take a careful look at the things that tend to diminish your productivity on any given day and make an effort to avoid the avoidable distractions, which should help you make swift and positive changes in your productivity—hopefully with minimal effort and without having to make significant life changes.

Re-tool as needed

It’s often been said that the difference between a good plan and a great one is the ability to alter it as needed. As you devise new strategies and implement new plans to make key changes in your life to increase your productivity, pay careful attention to the results and revise things as needed. Keep the things that are working well and revisit those things that aren’t working quite so well to adjust on the fly. Trial and error is often the greatest teacher—don’t waste the opportunity to learn from your experiences, including your successes and failures, to help you plan your path to increased productivity.

About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.