Make Good Use Of Today


I came across this quote a while back, when starting a new year journal. It sums up I’m sure for many of us what we’d like to strive for both in our personal and professional lives.

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It made me think about ways in which we can all be more productive at work and what time killers crop up as routine.


Call rather than face to face meetings

We all know that nothing beats a face to face meeting, especially if there are tricky things to discuss, sales to tie down, or relationships to maintain, but I’ve improved my efficiency massively by reconsidering which meetings should be face to face and which can be done over the phone. Re-looking at your diary and converting a proportion of long distance journeys for meetings, to conference calls will do wonders for your efficiency. I can guarantee that in 99% of cases your work won’t suffer. I would advise careful organisation of the meetings, setting times in diaries, sending invites, sharing pertinent information ahead of the meeting. It’s also very important to set an agenda, and stick to it. Whereas a face to face meeting might take a couple of hours, a call should not be allowed to go on longer than 50 minutes or so.

Power meetings

Make sure that internal meetings are as productive as possible. Some of the points from the above recommendation apply here (agendas, invites, information), but there’s more temptation than ever for internal meetings in the office to become unproductive. Office gossip, confusion about what the meeting is about amongst attendees, an inefficient mix of characters in the meeting, and distractions will all lead to wasted time and effort. Ensure that times for the meeting are set beforehand, and that all attendees understand clearly what they are expected to have prepared beforehand, what their role at the meeting is.


This is one that I’ve actually actioned, and I can already feel the difference – probably just in the aesthetic appeal of the office first and foremost. There’s lots of research out there about how having plants around us makes us more productive, adding more than just a decorative touch to an office. Psychologists have found that, as well as oxygenating the air, plants can improve employee satisfaction and can increase productivity by up to 15 per cent. That’s of course if we ensure that the plants are healthy – I personally can manage to kill a plant in less than two weeks it seems! Perhaps a mixture of fake and real is the way to go for me.

4pm finish

This is also one that we have occasionally done, especially if the team have gone the extra mile to achieve a particular deadline, and we’re all feeling a bit jaded. An unexpected early finish does much to boost morale and efficiency. It’s a really practical and appreciated way of saying “thank you”. I don’t see it as work time lost – a bit of forewarning to the team ensures I am sure that nearly as much work gets done, and we all come back to work the next day just that bit more refreshed and raring to go.

Stand up desks

The research behind these is truly compelling, with users of stand up desks being roughly 40% more productive than those who sit down. Regardless of the added health benefits, this has got to be worth investigating, even if we do take the research with a pinch of salt. Definitely on my list of next things to try. So armed with a few pointers about how to get the most from your day, the next thing to avoid are the colleagues in the office who will waste your time for you. Avoid the gossips like the plague – they are hell bent on distraction and spreading their own brand of negativity. Learn to spot the procrastinators – those who will do absolutely anything as long as it’s not the task at hand. Importantly be vigilant to spot the signs in yourself – if you start to avoid priority tasks, for mundane time fillers, get a grip! Finally, remember that although we all have that one colleague who is the first in the office and never seems to go home, we shouldn’t aspire to be like that. Nobody can remain productive long term for those kind of hours. Either the demands of their role are unreasonable, or more than likely (and in my experience 100% of the time this has been the case) they are inefficient at their job.


By Claire Lister, Pitman Training Group Managing Director

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