The modern office is a busy, fast-paced and high-pressure place, and workers face increasing demands every day. The technology boom in the last fifty years has caused and is still causing drastic and rapid change within the economic environment; businesses, business practices, business owners and employees all have to keep up and adapt quickly.

Within this persistently changeable, highly competitive environment, businesses need to be efficient in order to succeed. Knowing how to structure your day to maximise your productivity is one of the most important ways of sustaining your business. The following is a list of five tips to help you get more done during your workday.

Tip 1 – Allocate time for your emails

Most of the time, looking through, replying to and dealing with emails received are not part of your to-do list or plan for your work day. Dealing with emails from clients or colleagues as soon as they arrive in your inbox can be tempting, but they can also put your other work behind schedule. If that happens, you’ll find deadlines start creeping ever closer and you’re getting stressed about potentially not being able to stick to them.

Set aside slots of time each day to work through and deal with your emails, so that you can make sure they don’t interfere with your other work. When you are looking at your emails and something comes up that requires additional work, ask yourself if the work is more important than your current task list and then prioritise accordingly.

After all, if a client or colleague’s request is really urgent, they will call you.

Tip 2 – Let others know if you can’t be disturbed

If you have a big project or even just a single task that requires concentration without interruption or distraction for a set amount of time, then you should consider sending out a brief email to let your colleagues know. Tell them that between 11am and 12pm, for example, you will be incommunicado. That way you can be certain that you will get the work done.

The Wall Street Journal actually posted statistics that it takes on average more than 25 minutes to resume a task after someone or something has interrupted you. This means that if you are interrupted just four times a day, this could mean nearly two hours of being unproductive.

Tip 3 – Always take a lunch break

A BUPA study revealed that not taking a lunch break has a significant impact on workers. 48% of workers said they felt their productivity levels plummet at around 3pm in the afternoon, after having not had a break. As a result, 40 minutes of their workday is lost because of this dip. So if you want to make sure you get the most from yourself and your employees – not just in time, but also in the quality of work – make sure nobody skips their breaks.

Tip 4 – Avoid multi-tasking

People say that woman are a lot better at multi-tasking than men, but when it comes to the office environment, is multi-tasking a good idea for anyone? You might think that trying to handle two jobs at once will get both of them done quicker, but Earl Miller, a neurologist at MIT, revealed in an article for The Guardian that this isn’t quite true…

“Although we think we’re doing several things at once, multitasking, this is a powerful and diabolical illusion. Our brains are not wired to multitask well. When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly.”

Tip 5 – Create a to-do list

To-do lists are inordinately helpful, because they help us to plan our work day, in turn helping us get the most out of our time at the office. However, you can make your to-do lists even more efficient by allocating times for the different tasks, which will give you an even clearer picture of how your work day ought to pan out.

Some people do this, but are not always honest about the actual length of time that each task will take. Think about dividing tasks into ‘one-hour’ tasks and ‘one-hour+’ tasks. Then break down each task into all of its component parts so that you have a better picture of how much work each task requires. This will enable you to estimate the time you allow more accurately.

Would you add any tips for a more productive day at the office to this list?