4 Ways to Boost Your Productivity Today

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From time to time we all wish there were more days in the week. Many of us can never find the time we need to get everything marked off our to-do list. But by improving our productivity, we can cut down on wasted hours and maybe finish our to-do list - or maybe even take a little break to spend time with friends and family. 

Here are 4 ways to boost your productivity starting today. 

1. Get your inbox under control

Did you know the average workers in the United States spends more than 13 hours a week on email, according to the McKinsey Global Institute? If you do the math, that's more than 600 hours a year. Think about that many hours times the number of employees in your whole organization - that's a lot of wasted hours! 

That's why it's so important to get your inbox under control. There are lots of tricks to do this. Fast Company shared six very specific ways in this article, but even implementing some of their ideas can be complicated for some people. That's why some people prefer to take a course like this one to learn exactly how to implement templates, create filters, and other tricks to get their inbox back in control. 

2. Learn shortcuts 

We recently shared 36 Excel Shortcuts You Need to Know, and we stand by them. These shortcuts make you more productive and potentially give you back an extra 40 hours a year. There are many more shortcuts you can learn, in Excel and other parts of your work. The entire Microsoft Suite has many shortcuts, as do most types of software you work with. All you have to do is learn them. 

It's important to note that while shortcuts can be a lifesaver, not all shortcuts are worth it. If any part of your work is subject to audit, make sure the shortcut you want to use is approved. The process currently in place might exist for a reason, and you don't want to skip a crucial step. But typically, shortcuts (especially Excel shortcuts) are a great way to increase your productivity. 

3. Stop multitasking

Multitasking is so tempting. Many of us do it on a daily basis. We listen to podcasts on our commute, check our email at the gym, or watch a webinar while finishing up some work. But studies have proven that multitasking isn't helping us. Instead, it could be hurting us. 

Our brains weren't designed to focus on more than one thing at a time. So when we multitask, we're not doing anything well. Our attention is divided, and not only does that hurt our productivity, it could be lowering our IQ according to a study conducted by the University of London. That's why we should put our phones down and focus on one task at a time.  

4. Enough with the meetings

One of the biggest hits to our productivity are meetings. For upper management, as much as 50% of their work week is taken up with meetings - either having meetings, preparing for meetings or reporting on meetings. If that sounds like a lot, here's what makes it even worse. Many executives consider 67% of all meetings to be failures, according to research reported by CNBC

That's a lot of wasted time on unproductive meetings, which why it's time to cut back. Before setting a meeting, determine if the meeting is really necessary (would an email or phone call do instead?), who needs to be there (do you need the whole department or just a manager?), and what needs to be accomplished (what is the goal?). And when you do have meetings, keep them short and sweet to get everyone back to work and being productive.