The process of increasing productivity at work does not have to be difficult or expensive. In fact, it can be simple if presented in a way that is not overwhelming to workers. By breaking the process down into five easy steps, employees and business owners alike can maximize individual and team results. Below are five easy steps designed to help employees achieve increased productivity. These steps are easy to follow and do not cost any money to implement.

1. Use the drive to work as a “planning period”

Many people view their commute to work as a necessary evil. With some commutes lasting an hour or longer, it is easy to understand why some people dread them. However, some people fail to realize that they can utilize their time in the car or bus in a fruitful way.

Increased productivity at the office can result by taking advantage of transit time. The commute to the office can be used to organize thoughts, prepare for upcoming tasks at work, and rehearse any presentation topics. People who ride the bus or train to work can check their emails, respond to texts, and outline a plan for the day. They can even think about how to increase productivity! By using their commutes to get a jump start on the day, employees can arrive at the office more mentally prepared to handle the tasks that are facing them.

2. Limit the duration and number of meetings

It can be challenging to maintain sustained focus and concentration in the workplace if there are too many meetings. Productivity is interrupted every time employees need to abandon existing tasks to attend a meeting.

Increasing productivity in meetings can be maximised if an agenda is created in advance and participants are urged to stay on track. When a meeting is absolutely necessary, every effort should be made to keep the meeting as short as possible. With few exceptions, meetings should be reserved for business that cannot be addressed using other methods and should last no longer than one hour.

3. Do not put off unpleasant tasks

It can be very tempting to avoid undesirable tasks. Whether it is the preparation of a dreaded report, a phone call from an angry client, or that business trip that keeps getting postponed, it is usually not a good idea to procrastinate or ignore job responsibilities that require attention. In fact, this type of procrastination can actually make dreadful situations worse and can hinder productivity. When angry customers feel ignored, their behavior can escalate and become combative. Dealing with unpleasant customers consumes time and energy that could be channeled toward productive pursuits.

Increased productivity can be achieved by tackling unpleasant tasks as soon as they arise. Staff should be instructed to respond swiftly to customer complaints and not to ignore a ringing phone due to fear that an angry caller may be on the other end of the line. In fact, a prompt response to a problem by an employee may actually bolster future business from that client.

4. Eliminate distractions

In order to understand how to increase productivity in the midst of distractions, it is necessary to be aware of the most common types of distractions in the workplace. Some distractions are visual while others are audible. Examples of visual distractions include inappropriate attire and offensive e-mails. Audible distractions are more common and include loud personal phone conversations, whistling, noisy overhead paging systems, and constant office chatter.

Increasing productivity at the office requires the participation of the entire workforce to eliminate unnecessary distractions. Everyone must make a commitment to reduce noise and be respectful of their peers. The use of overhead paging systems should be restricted and employees should refrain from playing music that can be heard by co-workers who share their office space. Employees should follow office dress codes and refrain from displaying offensive material in e-mails or on office property.

5. Take 10 minutes to plan for the next day

For many employees, the workday ends in a whirlwind. Computers are turned off, purses are grabbed, and it can sometimes seem like the entire office is making a mad rush for the door at the end of the business day.

Before leaving the office to head home, take a few minutes to prepare for the next business day. Try to make sure that all voice mail messages have been checked and any crucial calls have been returned. Physical workspace should be as neat and uncluttered as possible. By following this step, a person’s work environment becomes more inviting. Also, because the office space is more organized, material is easier to find and tasks can be completed more easily.

By focusing on how to increase productivity on the job, employees gain a valuable edge over the majority of people in the workforce. In addition to demonstrating a commitment to maximizing their own performance, these individuals can set a positive tone at the office by following these five easy steps. And because these steps can be taken without the expenditure of extra time or money, they are easy for owners and employees alike to follow.