3 Ways to Increase Your Productivity at Work (without Working More)

Sara Leonard Tips

Recently being disconnected from the Internet made me realize how out of practice I’ve gotten at staying totally focused. I found myself checking the email icon on my laptop regularly to see if I had any new messages, even though I wasn’t connected to WiFi.

Did life as I know it cease to exist? Of course not. I was actually getting more done. 

Research says we lose 15 minutes when we hop from task to task. So what can we learn from my hours without Wi-Fi about increasing productivity at work and becoming less distracted leaders? Here are three suggestions for becoming a more present leader.

READ: THIS 15-MINUTE ROUTINE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER LEADER

3 Ways to Increase Your Productivity at Work and Stay Focused

1. Close your door more.
While having an open-door (or open inbox) policy is important for cultivating a strong culture, there are times when you need to minimize distractions, such as drop-by meetings, hallway conversations or constant Slack or Microsoft Teams messages. Let your teammates know that you need some time to focus on an important task and when you’ll be available later that day. Consider scheduling some focused work time during regular intervals each week.

2. Work out of the office.
Literally removing yourself from the daily distractions of the workplace, whether that is a physical or home office, can help you focus. Whether you take a few hours to work at a coffee shop or public library during their slower times or take a few hours to work outside, a new environment can help you be more productive from time to time. Need more proof? Check out this TED Talk: “Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work.”

3. Schedule the big things.
Determine the time of day when you’re most productive, and spend those hours on your most important tasks, like creating a major gift solicitation strategy or writing your annual appeal letter. Schedule “busy time” on your calendar for those periods to protect that time from other demands or focusing on the “small stuff.”

Our nonprofit work saves and changes lives. It’s worthy of your focus. Don’t let the daily distractions keep you from changing our community.

Take Back Control of Your Workday

Studies show that during an average workday, a person can lose up to three hours to interruptions and time mismanagement. Join the Nonprofit Leadership Center virtually on March 8 for Work, Interrupted: Taking Back Control of Your Workday.

During this half-day course, you will:

  • Learn surprisingly easy and practical solutions to become less stressed, more productive and more successful
  • Explore real-life experiences and strategies for how to handle work interruptions
  • Discover how to add extra time to your day

Get nonprofit leadership tips and tools delivered to your inbox by joining our VIP list. You’ll receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, which also includes the latest nonprofit trainings, classes and events at NLC to help you thrive personally and professionally.



Sara Leonard, MBA, CFRE
, is a fundraising and board governance consultant. She created the Fund Development Academy at the Nonprofit Leadership Center of Tampa Bay, where she is still a trainer.

Her firm, the Sara Leonard Group, delivers professional guidance, education and facilitation to those responsible for fund development, including fundraising professionals, CEOs, CFOs, board members and other nonprofit staff.