Being able to effectively finish your tasks is amazing. There’s no better feeling than ending your day with a smile on your face, knowing that you completed your tasks well and on time. However, even if we start our days with a goal in mind, achieving it at the end of the day sometimes isn’t possible.
What’s standing on our way? We face different challenges and obstacles daily. It’s up to us to efficiently tackle and overcome them. To complete each challenge and come out as a winner, we need to introduce strategies for organising our days better. If applied correctly, these strategies will significantly increase your productivity at work.
1. Get enough sleep
Sleep is a vital activity for each and every one of us. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to properly function during the day, let alone productively work. You’re surely well-aware of how horrible drowsiness and dizziness caused by the lack of sleep are. You also know that no matter how many cups of coffee you drink in the morning, nothing freshens you up like the good nights’ sleep.
People often overlook the importance of sleep. During the night, while we’re asleep, our brains go through multiple phases of sleep. Every phase has its own special role that prepares our brains for the next day. If sleep is so important, then why are we neglecting it?
We ruin our sleeping schedules due to the disorganisation. We try to accomplish too many things, procrastinate or get distracted which makes us take away from the hours of sleep. To be able to think clearly next morning, make sure to get 6-8 hours of undisturbed sleep.
2. Prepare a to-do list for each day
To-do lists are one of the most valuable strategies for productivity. They keep you focused, organised and are the most objective indicator of how good you are at time management. Think of the feeling of accomplishment with each task ticked off the list. Satisfying, right?
For a productive day at work, start your morning with a plan. Jot down every task and thing you need to accomplish during that day. That’s how you’ll keep track of the things you’ve completed and tasks you’re yet to finish.
Is there the right way to create a to-do list? The right way is usually the one you feel most comfortable with. Some people find it helpful to write the tasks according to priority and urgency. On the other hand, some people like to use “time laps/windows” for each task. So, for example, breakfast is from 8:00 to 8:15, paperwork from 8:30 to 9:15, etc. Be careful not to create a time pressure, though!
3. Cut down your to-do list
So, you’ve created a comprehensive to-do list only to cut it down? This is not a practical joke. To be able to keep up with tasks and complete them at a high level, you must reduce your to-do list first. Think about the deadlines and importance of each task before you cross it off your list.
How many items does an average to-do list contain? Five? Ten? Seventeen? The rule is that there are no rules. Your list should contain as many tasks as you’re confident with. However, if you write down too many tasks, you’ll never be as productive as you’d like to be.
It’s hard to focus on too many things during the day. If you get overworked, chances are you’ll get tired before you finish everything off your list. In that case, sadness and disappointment are inevitable. To prevent that from happening, reduce the items on your to-do list.
4. Plan phone calls, emails and meetings
Did you know that unnecessary phone calls and meetings take away more than 25% of the time during the day? Nobody came to work only to answer emails and phone all day. It can keep you from doing the tasks that really matter. So, make sure to leave enough time only to answer texts, e-mails and schedule meetings.
Everyone complains about having to attend boring meetings, yet we keep scheduling them daily. Are they really necessary? They take away your precious and well-planned time, so if possible, avoid the meetings. If they are absolutely necessary and essential, hold a standing meeting while you refill your coffee cup and get on with your days.
Same can be applied to phone calls and e-mails. Leave a 15-minute gap during your day and dedicate it to answering your clients and co-workers. This is a handy strategy to keep you focused on your work.
5. Avoid multi-tasking
Combined with the lack of sleep, multitasking is one of the biggest creativity and productivity killers. If you’re constantly switching tasks, you can’t fully be focused on what you are currently doing, which causes mental and thinking blocks 40% of the time.
Some experts even claim that multitasking can cause your IQ to drop up to 15 points! If you’re addicted to doing multiple tasks at once, you’re neglecting the wellness of your brain. Multi-tasking can sometimes be physically harmful!
There are some speculations that people who simultaneously work on multiple tasks have lower grey matter density. This may cause a lack of decision making and emotional control skills. So, next time you think about doing multiple tasks at once, think about your brain’s health.
6. Feel comfortable at your office
Some people simply work better under pressure. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t or mustn’t be comfortable at their own office. Believe it or not, people who have aesthetically pleasing offices tend to be 15% more productive than those who don’t.
So, if personalisation is allowed, why don’t you make your office more comfortable? Add pictures, personalise your desktop, and bring in some plants. Anything that puts a smile on your face is ideal for your productivity.
If you’re grumpy or anxious, you’re more likely to waste time overthinking and not working. If personalisation helps you create a more laid-back homey atmosphere that helps you focus and productively work, go for it!
7. Minimise distractions
A single notification on your phone is enough to distract you from your tasks. Whether it’s a text message, personal phone call or a social media app notification, try to ignore it unless it’s an emergency. Once you take your phone, you’ll find yourself three hours later mindlessly surfing the internet with no tasks done.
The world is full of distractions. It’s up to us to choose whether we’ll allow various interesting or not so interesting stimuli distracts us from our daily tasks. With modern technology, people’s life span became shorter. That’s why it’s hard for you to stay focused for hours, especially if work you do isn’t appealing or engaging.
So, put your phone down, turn off the notifications, and if possible, close the office door. Even if a colleague or someone from the other department drops by to say hi, you might lose precious time chit-chatting and not working on important tasks. You can hang out after work.
8. Do the hardest tasks when you’re most alert
It’s commonly known that we can’t be focused all the time during the working hours. There are time lapses during the day when our brain is more alert and more ready to get down to work and do it efficiently. Do you recognise such patterns in your day?
Hard tasks are challenging and usually take up a lot of our time. They require active focus and creative thinking to be well done. That’s why we push them away and leave them for later. However, choosing the time when we’re most alert increases the chances of the task being done adequately.
Most people claim that they are at their performance peak around 9:30 am which lasts about 45-50 minutes. On the other hand, other people feel like they are the most productive after lunch. Experiment and see for yourself. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find such a pattern. That only means that you can successfully tackle challenges any time during the day!
9. Implement a two-minute rule
Even though you’ve carefully planned your day, you must expect the unexpected. Leave open time in your schedule for small tasks during the day. Just like we postpone doing hard tasks, we also procrastinate doing easy and short ones! How does that affect your productivity?
If you get assigned a task that can be done in less than two minutes, do it immediately. If you try to stick it in your schedule, you’ll lose precious time trying to fit it in, while you could have already finished it.
There is one more aspect of a two-minute rule for hard tasks and tasks you don’t feel like doing. This doesn’t mean that you’ll complete them in 120 seconds. If you start a task within two minutes, keep it up. Otherwise, you’ll waste precious time! This can also be applied to starting a habit! Two-minute rule strategy is golden.
10. Don’t work more than 90 minutes at once
If you think that by pushing yourself to work longer, you’ll achieve more, you’re wrong. As we’ve mentioned, the human brain gets easily distracted. Besides that, we can’t be focused at all times, which is natural. However, by pushing yourself to work while you can’t pay active attention to it is contra-productive.
Instead of blaming yourself for the unfinished work, try the Pomodoro technique. Work for no more than 90 minutes at once, then make a short, 5-minute break. That will help you rest from the task and freshen up a little bit before you start working again. Repeat the process.
Did you know that we can’t actively work for more than 4.5 hours during the day? So, it’s completely natural to feel the need to take a break once in a while.
11. Take frequent breaks
Many individuals live in the illusion where working longer means that you’ve accomplished more, while the truth can be the complete opposite. Forcing your brain to work when you’re tired and can’t focus anymore can only be damaging to you and the work you do.
That’s why you need to take frequent breaks. Don’t only stretch and walk around the office. Find time to eat lunch or have a healthy snack. Did you know that you can get a lot of mental and physical energy from the food you intake?
In such a fast-paced environment such as the workplace, it’s understandable that you don’t have much time to eat proper lunch. To receive all the necessary nutrients you need, you can drink a natural protein shake. Protein shakes made out of pure, natural supplements can increase your productivity, provide you with nutrients and boost your energy. They are ideal for a busy conscientious businessman like you.
12. Work out
Did you know that physical activity can improve your focus and productivity? If you spend long hours working, make sure to do some sort of activity once in a while. Staying physically active while you’re chained to your desk from 9 to 5 is challenging, however, you can use workspace in your advantage. How?
To break out of the busy work routine, try to do exercises appropriate for your office. It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous or tiring. As long as you’re keeping your mind off your work, you’re doing it correctly. The main purpose of office workouts isn’t only to keep you physically active, but also to keep your mind engaged in non-work-related stuff.
While you’re thinking about the exercises, you’re giving your brain enough time to rest and prepare for the tasks ahead of you. It’s a handy strategy for those who can’t be focused all the time.
Try out these techniques and see what works for you. It’s unrealistic of you to expect top-notch performance each and every day. It’s okay to feel tired or bored with the work you do. By implementing these strategies, you are increasing your chances of being productive and focused. Remember that at the end of the day, you’re only a human who tried his or her best to have a successful and productive day.
Guest article written by: Jasmine Anderson is a lifestyle and beauty blogger based in Australia. She is an incurable daydreamer, who finds inspiration in little, everyday moments. Spending time at her cozy home office with her two cats, writing her blog, is her favorite thing in the world. https://twitter.com/AndersonJess_AJ