My field of integrated communications is a service business that by definition must be productive. People’s deadlines must be met with deliverables executed on a critical path, with many layers of dependencies: Clients depend on teams to launch products, time financial news and outmaneuver competitors.
It’s a tall order. But over the decades I’ve had insights about what makes a team productive at its core. I’m sharing a few proven productivity hacks here in the hopes they’ll also help you.
1. Set clear expectations with the company's culture.
Create a positive work environment that supports professional development. Arm employees with the tools they need to build and expand their expertise and create productive workspaces accommodating different work styles.
2. Apply design thinking.
Productivity doesn’t simply happen. It comes from a constant focus on building it into processes and work flows as the organization evolves. Look at end results (measurable goals, timelines, success metrics) and set process in place even before pressing the “go" button.
The more you hand off to others, the more productive you'll be. If someone else can do a task, if you can show someone else how to do it or if somebody on your team can show someone else how to do an activity, then don’t do it yourself. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking you have to do things because nobody else knows how.
If you feel that way, stop before you slide down a nonproductive slippery slope. Step out of your comfort zone and find someone else who’s willing to do the same—and give him or her the job. Let the person know you’re there if needed.
4. Don’t multitask.
People refer to multitasking like it’s a good thing. It’s not. People's brains aren’t designed to do concurrent things well.
Close your computer in meetings unless all you’re (really, truly) doing is taking notes. More and more people's lives are about interruptions and short bursts of attention. But real productivity comes from doing one thing at a time, doing it well and wrapping it up before moving on to the next thing.
5. Take a break.
The brain can grow weary with too much of the same sort of work; that’s why people sneak off to check email. When you finish something, reward yourself. Take a walk around the block. Check Twitter to see what’s trending. Go get that excellent cup of coffee. These aren’t wastes of time. They’re ways of refueling and reorganizing for your next deliverable.
6. Challenge assumptions.
Remote teams and virtual workers are the norm in today’s workplace, as team members often collaborate across different geographies and time zones. “How does that affect productivity?” people ask. My answer: “It’s a boost.” Multioffice teams can script work flows that put time differences on the company's side.
7. Optimize for meaning.
If you're not getting a sense of making an impact, a sense of satisfaction, even fun in your work, it’s hard to sustain productivity. Being productive isn’t about working harder and harder in the hope that you’ll eventually get there. It’s about hitting a flow state, mastery or something that brings a sense of a job well done.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor.