We can all relate to losing count of the number times that a good day’s work has been ruined by being distracted by a social media feed, wrapped up in recipe research, or thanks to throwing hours down a rabbit hole of pointless videos. Sometimes it is a distraction, at other times it is a lack of motivation. Either way, we’ve got ten top tips for keeping yourself on track, enthusiastic, and productive at work, no matter where you may be working.
Stay on schedule
There is nothing that disrupts productivity more than starting your day with burden of having something to finish up or catch up on from yesterday. Just the idea itself is often enough to weigh down a noisy mind filled with things to do and aspirations for personal time. Time management is at your own discretion, but try to find a routine that you can stick to, even if for the first half of the day only. Starting out prepared and free from leftover responsibilities gives you a positive attitude and clear mindset needed to seize the day.
Start your day by working on the hardest task
Your toughest jobs should always be completed first. The only way to uphold and steadily increase productivity is to finish up the things that are the most taxing or the jobs that take the longest. However, you weigh difficulty, pick the hardest job, and get it done. Everything else will feel effortless after you’ve tackled that mammoth task that you dreaded.
Ignore your inbox and messengers
Remember what we suggested about starting your day with the toughest job first? Well, stick to it and skip over your inbox and messages. You don’t need the incoming selection of must-dos and distractions disturbing the perfect focus and optimal productivity you have at the start to your day. Honing your focus by finishing the biggest task before you even think about emails and other correspondences should be your only objective. Everything else can wait until you’re in the right state of mind and point of productivity.
Set priorities and stick to them
Making a to-do list can’t simply involve listing things that need to be done. You need to sort and filter your responsibilities according to their priority. Be realistic about your expectations, and remember that a day can’t be filled with back-to-back tasks without any time for unexpected delays and time to clear your head. Once you’ve listed and prioritized everything that you want to do, you’ll soon see what you can fit into your day and which tasks would be better to be delayed or extended from the start.
Create a distraction-free environment
Disable any push notifications that are going to distract you on your computer, tablet, or phone. Set boundaries in your workspace, making your need to focus clear by establishing ground rules to clearly share with those around you. You don’t need social media open, nor the news, YouTube, or your email. When you are busy working, do just that – work, nothing else. Responding to customers and resolving other workplace (or home) issues can wait until you’ve completed an allocated period of fixed focus, or finished the prioritized task at hand.
Segment your time
Find a period of time that you can work without losing focus or growing tired or frustrated. While this may seem tricky to isolate, start with a segment of fifteen or twenty minutes. One of the most effective time management methods is ‘The Pomodoro Technique.’ Use a timer and break down your work into twenty-five-minute intervals, each one called a ‘Pomodoro.’ Work for twenty-five minutes before stopping and taking a short five-minute break. Work for another Pomodoro, repeating the process and taking a short break until you reach four Pomodoros in total. Now, take a thirty-minute break and reset your cycle. The more you work at this technique, the more productive you’ll find yourself. It makes an instant difference for most people.
Drink enough water
Did you know that a 1% drop in hydration can lead to a 12% reduction in average productivity? Increase this to a 4% decrease in hydration, and productivity falls to between 30% and 50% less. Drinking enough water is essential to keeping your brain functioning optimally. Once you begin getting dehydrated, energy and focus decrease while the chance of a negative mood that interferes with thinking arising is much higher. There is no substitute for drinking enough water. Other beverages don’t count. In actual fact, drinking four cups of coffee within a workday increases the quantity of water that you need to drink to stay hydrated.
Raise your heart rate and get outside for fresh air
This doesn’t mean that you need to fill your lunch with hot yoga or hit the gym. Just make sure that you don’t stay stationary all day. Remaining sedentary will often leave you in a fog that you’re barely aware of but just can’t shake. As little as ten minutes spent walking outside can make all the difference between staying productive and working “hard,” but getting nowhere.
Maintain a positive mental attitude
Defeatism will defeat you if you don’t change the way that you think, speak, and act. Instead of complaining about being distracted all the time, affirm that you recognize how easily distracted you just were backed up by how glad you are that you’re back on track. Reframe your thoughts to leave every statement free from negative connotations. If you are stuck, it is an opportunity to change the way that you’re working for the better, not a reason to beat yourself up and impair your performance & productivity even more
Close your business day properly
At the end of each workday, make it a ritual to close off your dealings and organize yourself. Put away any unnecessary documents, update a formal prioritized to-do list, review your schedule, make any adjustments needed, contact the last of your customers or decide who needs to be contacted when. Don’t put anything off until tomorrow that’d leave your day in limbo. Also, don’t be tempted to rush out the door or close off your business dealings without finishing up properly. The organized close means a clear head and productive start to your next day.
How do you work better?
Each of us has our own unique way of staying focused and tapping our creative energy. Charles Dickens would pace while dictating his work – he never did much writing. Beethoven would keep a tub of water handy to splash over himself as he composed. Leonardo da Vinci would sleep for twenty-minutes every four hours while Tesla would only sleep for a two-hour total each night. Now, I’m sure we don’t all go to such strange extremes, but how do you make sure that you’re productive and at your best? Feel free to share your tips and techniques.