Health Advocate Blog

Ask a Health Advocate: How can I be more productive at work?

Everyone has stressful days at work—you know, those days where your desk is a sea of assignments, your to-do list is several pages long, and everyone needs everything “ASAP.” And on really tough days, your workload can seem insurmountable, and so can the stress that accompanies it, rendering you less efficient than you’d like to be.

Luckily, good preparation, focus, and organization can help you reduce your stress and maximize your productivity. Read on to find out how!

Get prepared…the day before. Often, the key to having a productive day at work actually begins the day before. At the end of each workday, neaten up your workspace and prepare your to-do list for the next day.

Prioritize your tasks. Rather than looking at one massive to-do list, split your tasks up according to priority. Not only does focusing on one section at a time make the list look less scary, but it also helps you tackle the most important things first.

Deal with it. When you grab a piece of paper from your desk, commit to dealing with it right away—either act on it right then, delegate it to someone, file it, or (if it’s no longer needed) pitch it. This can help reduce stress-inducing clutter from piling up on your desk.

Set reminders. Plug reminders for routine, efficiency-boosting tasks into your calendar. This can help you stay on track with things like making your to-do list, organizing your desk, and filing loose papers.

Do one thing at a time. Multitasking sounds like a great idea, but dividing your focus between many different tasks can interrupt your concentration. Focus on doing one thing at a time.

Get along. You don’t have to like everyone you work with, but treating everyone with respect is essential. This can help you prevent stressful situations like conflicts with co-workers, and can also help you form allies—your co-workers might be great sources of knowledge for projects you’re working on, or may be able to lend an extra hand when you have a lot on your plate. Treating your co-workers kindly is in everyone’s best interest.

Reward yourself. Your supervisor may not always notice or thank you for the hard work you’re putting in, so it’s your responsibility to reward yourself for a job well done. Keep rewards simple and brief so they’re easy to fit into your workday. Some suggestions: taking a brisk 10-minute walk, a coffee or tea break with a coworker, or a stretch break at your desk.

Utilize your resources. If you have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through your employer, give them a call! They can help you with many issues, including stress management, improving productivity, work/life balance, substance abuse, financial stress, family problems, and much more. You can often get free telephonic counseling through your EAP, and in some situations your EAP may be able to help you receive in-person counseling. If you’re not sure whether you have access to an EAP service, ask your Human Resources or Benefits department.

Want to find out more about how a Health Advocate can help you? Email your questions to me at You just might see your question answered in an upcoming “Ask a Health Advocate” column!