Boosting productivity for a 4pm finish

Working Woman - Via Shutterstock
Working Woman – Via Shutterstock

Last Friday Red Bull championed a National 4pm Finish Day – but how many of you actually managed it?

If you are shaking your head sadly, you are not alone. Recent research conducted by PageGroup has revealed that a large percentage of UK workers are now working outside of standard office hours, don’t feel that they are always productive and believe that flexible working hours would help. Paul Sykes, Senior Managing Director, PageGroup, looks into some productivity hacks which may help overstretched workers boost their productivity and leave the office at 4pm.

According to research we recently conducted with 1,000 UK office workers, much of the workforce is overstretched and unproductive. The vast majority of respondents (86%) say that they work outside of office hours, with four in ten (39%) doing so regularly.

78% admitted to wanting to be more productive than they are, while 36% stated that they were least productive in the last couple of hours of the day than at any other time.

This all means that many people are not finishing tasks within standard office hours and are having to work longer days, often bringing work home with them. Also, the later in the day, the less productive we are. So how can we beat the mid-afternoon lull and ensure that all our work is done on time? These productivity hacks should help.

• Productivity hack #1 – No more multi-tasking
In an ideal world respondents would like to spend only around half (52%) of their time sending and responding to emails/making or answering work phone calls – the reality is that they spend far more doing both.

Juggling multiple tasks inevitably means splitting focus and energy between them, and not giving important tasks the attention they require. It is important to invest time and energy to essential tasks and not let other things distract from completing them. Try turning off emails and screening calls for a period of time to allow full concentration on the task at hand.

• Productivity hack #2 – Plan by the hour
Only a third (35%) of those asked were confident that their working day is always productive.

Approaching the working day with no real plan can leave important work forgotten and hamper productivity. Consider diarising time each day to reply to emails and make calls. For example, set aside two-hours between 9am and 11am each day to do this, freeing up time later in the day to focus on other tasks. Go one step further and set aside blocks of time in the day to focus on key tasks – schedule an hour and stick to it.

• Productivity hack #3 – Manage meetings
Finishing all tasks within deadlines (37%), and getting all their work done within working hours (26%) were the two most popular definitions chosen for productivity.

When managed poorly meetings will quickly eat up the day and can often feel like they have only increased workload. When managed correctly regular meetings are among the best ways for colleagues to discuss projects, delegate work and brainstorm ideas. To make the most out of meetings it’s important to set an agenda beforehand and not stray too far off topic. Always schedule a specific amount of time for the meeting – whether its ten minutes or an hour, and make sure the meeting ends on time and does not eat into time which should be spent on other tasks.

• Productivity hack #4 – Say no
Over one in four respondents (27%) wanted to be significantly more productive at work.

Always saying ‘yes’ and hoarding tasks they don’t have to time to complete can cause workers to become overstretched and unable to complete key tasks. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ when work comes in and always ensure to delegate assignments where appropriate.

• Productivity hack #5 – Take a break
61% believed flexible working hours would make them feel more productive.

When long, uninterrupted stints of work occur, afternoon fatigue will take its toll and burning out can be a real issue. This can adversely affect output so it is really important for office workers to take time away from their desk, allowing them to recharge and refocus. Taking a proper, uninterrupted lunch break away and if possible, out of the office, will avoid afternoon fatigue and burnout, ensuring that productivity remains high throughout the work day.

Hopefully by using our productivity hacks office workers can complete all of their tasks for the week and make a 4pm finish more of a regular thing than once a year!

You can test your own productivity at work and see how you compare to the average UK office worker, by clicking here and filling up your productivity cup.

Paul SykesAbout the Author:

Paul Sykes is the Senior Managing Director at Page Group. He is a UK Board Member with responsibility for developing business strategy for Michael Page Marketing, Michael Page Digital, Michael Page Sales, Michael Page Retail & Fashion and Michael Page Human Resources.

Paul joined Michael Page in 1997 as an Operating Director for Michael Page Marketing and Michael Page Sales. He was then appointed to Regional Director for Michael Page Marketing in 2006 where he developed the Michael Page Digital division. He became Managing Director for Michael Page Marketing, Michael Page Agency and Michael Page Digital in 2009 and has been Senior Managing Director at PageGroup since 2014.

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