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The End of Looking Busy: 3 Tips to Be More Productive

If you want to be more productive at work, you must learn to master your time. Some people just look busy and don't get anything done; others get their work accomplished and have time to spend with family or friends in the evening. Which type do you want to be?

(Photo Credit: .reid./Flickr)

Being busy does not equal being productive. Productivity is about the end result, not how overworked you were getting there. Think about it: you can run yourself ragged and end up with a mediocre or "good enough" result. Productivity is about being efficient.

Here's how:

1. Get a Day Planner and Use It

Get a day planner or just a plain notebook and write down tasks for the day every morning. Break down large projects into smaller tasks; for example, you may have a project due on Friday that involves meeting with clients before drafting a report. Each meeting is its own task on list, as is writing the report. When you finish a task, check it off in your day planner.

At the end of the day, transfer what is left undone to the next day. The next morning, prioritize your list all over again.

2. Prioritize

You only have so much time in the workday, so manage it well. Figure out what needs to be accomplished first and what can wait. This may seem like overly simplistic advice, but it bears repeating: if you want to have a productive day, prioritize tasks each morning.

In your day planner, mark tasks with an A, B, or C to indicate level of priority and what needs to be worked on first. Because you do this every day, priority levels of specific tasks may change.

3. Manage Procrastination

Learn to recognize behaviors that sabotage your productivity. Success Magazine lists 10 common procrastination behaviors. One is taking too long on the telephone. On a business call, it is appropriate to get the information and wish the person you called a pleasant day. There is no need to drag out a business call.

Another time wasting culprit listed in Success is preparing to work. No need to rearrange everything on your desk. Just dive in and do the work.

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Do you feel productive at work? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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