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How to be more productive at work: tips from young professionals

Are you finding yourself really distracted at work? Losing focus? Never fear! We asked a bunch of apprentices, graduates and young professionals what productivity tips they swear by. Here are some of the best… 

Make that all-important to-do list 

Knowing how to be more productive at work begins with the to-do list! Whether you keep a note in your phone, a list in Google docs, use an app like Trello, or even go old-school with a notepad, making a to-do list is crucial in any job. Having a list of tasks that you need to complete in any particular day is crucial to staying organised and keeping on top of your responsibilities. 

Isabel is a womenswear styling coach at John Lewis. She told us: “I have always been a naturally organised person. When I have a hectic schedule or workload, something that always helps with stress is writing down everything I need to do, then prioritising each point on the list. This allows me to reserve time for each task to make sure I get it done.”

Read more: How to improve your time management skills

How to be more productive at work: keep a list of tasks

Jake, a digital marketing apprentice, agreed: “When I first started working at Invotra it was a shock to the system to have to manage not

only my daily role and the tasks my boss gave me, but to structure them in a way that allowed enough time to complete my apprenticeship coursework.

“The thing that helped me the most was keeping to-do lists for both daily jobs and for larger tasks. This enabled me to evaluate what I needed to do every day against longer-term goals.”

Figure out what your priorities are

Making the to-do list is half the battle of productivity! You then need to figure out which tasks are most important and prioritise accordingly. It’s a good idea to spend the first part of your day focussing on the most important task. This is easier said than done, because things like email and your phone can be really big distractions. 

Graduate trainee Louise told us: “Being able to prioritise is vital. Everyone has their own deadlines, but knowing what falls under your job helps you to identify the most important tasks.”

“Highlight the top priorities and begin working on these one at a time,” said finance apprentice Thomas. “You will realise that most of the work you thought you had to do doesn’t need completing straight away, giving you time to focus on more important work.”

Read more: How to find a work/study balance

In order to boost your productivity, your prioritised tasks will also need to be flexible, in case you are suddenly given a job that needs to be done before everything else on your list. 

Rachel is an HR apprentice. She told us: “Another important skill is being flexible and adaptable. Although I may have a list of tasks to complete each day, something else is likely to arise which needs completing or dealing with first. Being able to adapt to a situation and be flexible allows me to keep calm and deliver what is needed.”

Declutter your environment

When it comes to figuring out how to be more productive at work, you should also give some thought to your physical surroundings. Whether you work in an office, a shop or even out in the field, you should do your best to keep a tidy environment. For one thing, you’ll be able to find things easier, making you more productive and efficient. A neat and tidy workspace also has a positive effect on your mind, leading to more focus and clarity.

Louise, an apprentice design engineer, agreed: “If you have a desk, try to keep it tidy: tidy desk, tidy mind. This also helps to stay organised and help you know where everything is.” 

Get outside!

This productivity tip might sound counterintuitive but it will actually help you be more productive at work if you take a break. Even better if you can have some exercise – a quick walk will do – and get some sunshine. Sometimes it can be hard to tear yourself away, especially if you’re in the middle of a tricky problem or task, but giving your brain a break from the work will help you be more focussed when you get back to your desk. 

Carpenter Arthur told us: “I make sure I take breaks at the same time every day and completely switch off. When I go back to work, I try not to get distracted by anything.”

Main photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash; journal photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash