More free time, less effort: 9 ways to be more productive at work

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Maximize productivity with these tips from workplace productivity experts Track how much time you spend on tasks Set personal deadlines if there's no external deadline Try the 2-minute rule and other task management strategies Meetings? Just say no Turn on a little work music Avoid junk food Stand up at work Drink lots of fluids to keep you alert Quit insisting on perfection

Anyone who's ever held gainful employment at any level knows what it's like to goof off on the job.

You text your best friend, skip out to get another latte or vending machine snack, veer from a meeting into a gossip session and, suddenly, where has the day gone?
Not only do most of us excel at wasting time, just 17 percent of people can accurately assess how much time has passed, according to This vs That's research.

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To become more productive at work, you do have to defy human nature, but the benefits of maximum productivity are worth the effort. Those include fewer senseless late hours, increased free time and improved time management skills that look great on the resume.
Most appealing of all, you won't need to cut coffee breaks or come to work earlier to make the change. 
"Being more productive at work isn't rocket science, but it does require being more deliberate about how you manage your time," John Rampton, founder of the online payment company Due, wrote in a series of tips for Inc

Start maximizing your productivity with these tips from Rampton and other workplace productivity experts: 

Track how much time you spend on tasks. Sort of like a food diary being the first step to weight loss, noting how much real time you spend on different pursuits during the day will give you a clear picture of where your time is wasted or wisely spent. Rampton recommended a tool like Rescue Time, which runs securely in the background on your computer and mobile devices to determine time spent on social media, email, word processing, apps and other daily tasks. The tool will also block distracting websites during key work times or set alerts to let you know when you've spent an allotted time on an electronic activity.

Set personal deadlines. Open-ended tasks or projects can sound the death knell for work productivity. If there's no external deadline, set your own and stick to it, Rampton said. "You may be surprised to discover just how focused and productive you can be when you're watching the clock."

Try the 2-minute rule and other task management strategies. According to Practice of the Practice, CMO expert Steve Olenski's "two minute rule" works. It goes like this: If you see a task you know you can complete in two minutes or less, do it immediately. POTP also recommends beginning the work day by tackling your most important or most dreaded task and always trying to batch similar tasks together.

Meetings? Just Say No. "Meetings are one of the biggest time-sucks around, yet somehow we continue to unquestioningly book them, attend them and, inevitably, complain about them," Rampton said. He recommended asking yourself if the same goals or tasks can be attained more productively via e-mail or phone before scheduling another meeting. (Hint: the answer is almost always, "Yes.")

Turn on a little work music. Just like long meetings, co-workers who chat constantly or just the everyday background workplace noise can distract the most determined worker, according to Working Mother. "Listening to music releases the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is responsible for feelings of pleasure and happiness," the magazine said. "So plug in your ear buds and put on your happy music to get you through the workday productively."

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Avoid junk foods. Another tip from Working Mother also focuses on becoming more productive by increasing your levels of alertness. The publication recommended opting for healthy snacks like fruit or nuts instead of carb-loaded candy bars during the work day. Extra fat and sugar only provide a passing energy boost, followed by a bigger crash later.

Stand up at work. Sitting increases your risk of heart disease and can also make you lethargic. If you can influence the office furniture, make sure you have a standing desk, whether you purchase, build your own or amend an existing desk. If you can't provide a standing desk, taking breaks every half hour or so to rise and stretch stimulates not only the body but the mind, according to WM.

Hydrate. Don't sacrifice beverage breaks just because you're at your desk and on deadline. Drinking lots of fluids keeps you alert and allows your mind to perform better, according to WM. Caffeine-laden coffee is okay as long as it's not all you drink, but plain old water is most likely all you need to stay hydrated.

Quit insisting on perfection. Managers and entrepreneurs in particular may get hung up on an attempt to perform a task to perfection, according to Rampton. But perfection is unattainable and the sooner you realize that, the more productive you'll become. "Rather than wasting time chasing after this illusion, bang out your task to the best of your ability and move on," Rampton said. "It's better to complete the task and move it off your plate; if need be, you can always come back and adjust or improve it later."