Five UAE experts share their tips on ways to work smart in the workplace

Five experts in the UAE provide insights on how you can become more productive this year, releasing more time to spend with family and friends.

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Near the top of many people’s lists of New Year’s resolutions is the one to spend more time with family and friends – but this is easier said than done when work commitments mean you come home late and feeling frazzled.

We’ve grilled five UAE-based experts for their insights into how to work smarter instead of harder, leaving you with more energy and time to spend with those you love.

First steps: get familiar with know your own voice

Norwegian-British Communications expert, trainer and speaker, Kim A Page, who lives in Dubai, says: “Any voice that is more elastic is always more engaging and influential, and getting to know your own voice also boosts your energy levels.

“When you’re driving to work in the morning in your car, a good thing is to put the music on really loud and sing along.

“What the voice needs to become more elastic is to be used and experimented with and if we only talk in our normal range, it sometimes has a tendency to become a little monotonous.

“Sing in the shower, too – the more you pour your singing voice out – the better.”

Before work: sweep away the mental cobwebs

Gautam Ganglani, the British managing director of Dubai-based Right Selection Group, which specialises in training for executives, says: “For 30 to 60 minutes, write down everything that is on your mind on paper.

“Then, divide them into respective categories, from business and health to family, for example. You need to book a ‘structured weekly review meeting’ with yourself to review your complete list and update the next action steps needed to move the task forward or mark it completed.

“Tasks that can be finished in less than two minutes need to be done immediately when they appear in front of you. This will save you valuable time as it reduces an unnecessary backlog.

“Make a list called ‘someday, maybe, never’. This contains tasks that you may never end up doing – however, they are occupying space in your mind and contribute to creating a sense of being overwhelmed.”

At work: focus on what you’re good at

Susan Castle, Scottish success and leadership trainer and co-founder of Dubai’s business development company, WLP Success, says: “One of the most limiting things you can do to yourself when you want to get more done is to focus on your weaknesses.

“I hear it again and again: ‘I’m good at this but I really need to work on that’. No you don’t. In fact the people who really shine are the ones who focus on the things they are naturally good at and passionate about. Find people to collaborate with who love to do the things you hate. This is the essence of good teamwork.

“For example, if you are a great starter and a dreadful finisher, find someone who loves to finish things. Collaborate with this person and that way both of you win – you get to keep having amazing creative ideas and the other guy gets the credit for finishing them.”

Before leaving the office: clean your workstation

Shelina Jokhiya from the UK, who operates Dubai’s professional decluttering and organising company, Decluttr Me, says: “A clear desk encourages you to clean your mind of clutter and be more productive.

“That means having just the bare essentials on the tabletop – your computer, phone, pen and notepad. Remove those presents from colleagues, old business cards and scribbled post-it notes, that are all clutter taking up valuable space. Anything else can be put in a basket or small box and put away in a drawer.

“Clear all items off the floor, and pictures off the walls which might distract you. I use the acronym FAT (File, Act and Toss) for all paper that comes into my life, but sometimes you might have to put it away in an in-tray and pending filing tray, too.”

When you get home: switch off your mind

Anna Yates, a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist at Mind Solutions in Dubai, says: “Listening to calming music in the car will help. And breathing deep slow breaths, using the diaphragm, will trigger a nerve response and switch off any work stress before you arrive home.

“Change out of your work outfit and into something more comfortable and sit with a relaxing cup of tea, spending a few minutes with the children to reassure them that you are home and focused on them now.

“Asking them about their day rather than rushing in and dashing around trying to get everything done as quickly as possible is important, and sets the scene for a more relaxing evening.”

In the evening: lay low

Emirati Mohamed Parham Al Awadhi, host of the television travel show, Peeta Planet, says: “I set my phone to ‘priority only’ when I sleep and during weekends. It reduces distractions caused by emails, messages and apps.

“A friend of mine recently told me about a cool approach he uses. He leaves his phone at the office on the last day of the week so that he is totally disconnected from work until Sunday morning. Finding ways to reduce access helps.”