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8 Ways To Work Smarter At The Office

The second-richest man in the world, 76-year-old Carlos Slim, is pushing for a three-day work week for all of us. Easy for him to say, you might think, but he probably knows what he's talking about. It could happen. Eventually.

In the meantime, while the weekly 9 to 5 is an ongoing reality and we're eagerly awaiting our two-day weekend, we've got to make the most of our time in the office. But how? You can change your working life for the better, forever, with just a few simple modifications.

We spoke to professional productivity expert (this is a thing apparently) Matthew Brown, who imparted these sage tips for staying on top of your work game.

1. You'll never get to the end of your to-do list, but you've still got to have one.

"Most people have a terrible to-do list," says Matthew "It's because they mix up projects and actions. A project is a multi-step thing, whereas an action is something you can actually do. When you look at your to-do list and it says 'book a vacation,' that's not something you can do instantly. So, what you should put is 'research vacation destination online' and work from there."

2. Only check your emails three times a day.

"Say at 9 a.m., noon and 4 p.m., go into your inbox and process your emails down to zero. And in between 9 a.m. and noon, and noon and 4 p.m., just do some work. Don't piss around with emails."

3. Don't reply to thousands of emails, just find the five that make a difference.

Don't spend all day sifting through emails. Brown says to focus on the four or five that will actually get something done or help you achieve something. Ask yourself this: "Of the 100 emails that come into your inbox everyday, how many really make a material difference to something that's important to you?"

4. Multi-tasking doesn't work and neither does constant self-interruption, so don't do it.

"One school of thought says if you've got a lot on your plate, put in another hour -- don't leave at six, leave at seven," Matthew explains. "The fact is, you could work a 100-hour week and you still wouldn't get through everything. You don't have enough time to do everything, but you always have time to do the important things." 'Important' doesn't include browsing Reddit or gawking at GIFs of Jennifer Lawrence, though.

5. Follow the 'Eat That Frog' technique.

We're not suggesting you eat an actual frog, but you do have to do something you don't particularly like the sound of each morning. "If the first thing you did was eat a live frog, everything else that day would be pleasurable,' says Matthew. So, do that one thing you can't stand the thought of doing as soon as you step foot in the office. The rest of the day will feel like a breeze.

6. Put on a pair of headphones -- even if you're not listening to music.

This one's pretty simple. "It's a way to signal to the world that the stuff you're doing is important and you need to concentrate," Matthew says. That way, people can see you're cracking on with things and know not to disturb you.

7. Don't always be available for work.

Germany has banned work emails after 6 p.m., and you should embrace their delightful law, too. Being constantly available for work robs you of the time you need to think of brilliant ideas. "One of the biggest improvements to productivity is when you stop getting emails on your phone -- it means you can sit on the bus and think."

8. Get yourself a single task management app.

An app like Dropbox, Evernote or Pocket Informant is useful because it means you've only got one place you need to look for everything.

Apply these practices to your daily work routine, and you could very well become the new office superstar.

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