Highly successful entrepreneurs and dedicated professionals have something in common – they understand the importance of a productive workday. Getting more things done faster will raise your profile as a valuable employee, make you feel more accomplished, and allow you to get ahead of the competition when it comes to advancing your career. Being more productive at work, however, takes a lot of focus and motivation. And whether you are doing it to catch your employer’s attention or leave early to meet your friends, you need to become more organized and goal-oriented.
It’s important to understand that everyone has a bad day every now and then. Beating yourself up over it is useless. Instead, put your energy towards developing a more efficient routine; this way, you will be able to stay on top of your tasks even when one of those dreaded unproductive days comes along. Here are some tips that will help, below.
Start the day by focusing on yourself
It’s extremely important to start your day on the right foot. Oversleeping and getting into the office late won’t do your any favors. Waking up an hour earlier and setting some time aside for yourself before heading out to work will allow you to mentally prepare for the day and make a plan to successfully get through it.
Starting the day by reading e-mails isn’t recommended – you don’t want to feel overwhelmed or stressed from the first minutes of the day. First, have a healthy breakfast and fit it some exercise. You can also meditate, catch up on the news or spend some quality time with your family.
Prioritize your to-do list
Even if you believe that you will remember everything you need to do, it’s easier than you think to get distracted and forget about certain tasks during the workday. Write all your assignments down, in order of priority. For instance, urgent activities should be tackled first, as well as any unfinished work from the day before. Delaying unfinished work unnecessarily will only lead to stress and burden. Place your focus on doing the things that matter most as efficiently as possible.
Maximize your most efficient times of the day
Are you a morning person? Or maybe you function better in the afternoon? It pays to know when you feel most motivated and energized, as that is the perfect time to handle your most important tasks. If you feel more productive before lunch, save the stuff that requires less mental energy for later. If you feel like accomplishing more in the afternoon, start your workday by responding to e-mails and finishing up smaller assignments.
Surprisingly, regular breaks can actually help you become more productive, as they allow your brain to recharge. Make sure you take five or 10 minutes every now and then to grab a snack, make small talk with a coworker or stretch your legs. You will feel more creative and energized when you get back to work.
In the same note, your lunch break can be the perfect opportunity to disconnect from your work tasks and relax for an hour. Schedule coffee with a friend or take a walk around the block to clear your head. Getting away from the office will mentally prepare you for the rest of the day, and help you keep your stress levels in check.
Focus on one task at a time
Multitasking doesn’t work. It might give you the impression that you are accomplishing more, but it will actually take you longer to finish two projects when you’re jumping back and forth than it would to finish each one separately. Research shows that switching between tasks can cause a 40% loss in productivity. You are more inclined to make mistakes when you try to multitask, and you are more stressed.
Devote your attention to one task at the time – you can use the Pomodoro technique to manage your time better and improve mental agility. This technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals of 25 minutes, separated by short breaks. It will help you improve your focus and keep better track of how you spend your time.
Distractions are productivity killers. Be honest: when is the last time when you wanted to check something on Facebook and realized 20 minutes later that you have been browsing through profiles this entire time? Keep distraction to a minimum by only allowing yourself to go on social media and read e-mail once an hour. Also, you can start using headphones to avoid constantly getting interrupted by chatty coworkers. If you can’t work while listening to music, try some ambient sounds – Coffitivity and RainyMood are great alternatives.
Keep your eye on the prize
Keeping a positive attitude during the day and regularly remembering why you work hard will allow you to feel more motivated. You will be ready to face challenges and solve any problems that may arise. When you feel discouraged or depressed, your focus and dedication suffer. A good idea would be to create an inspiration board and hang it above tour desk – it’s a popular way to visualize what you want to achieve and strive to accomplish your goals. If you don’t feel like sharing your inspiration board with the entire office, you can create it online and use it as a desktop background.
These tips will help you stay productive and efficient throughout the day. It’s true, it can be challenging at times. Nonetheless, developing a fruitful work routine will benefit you on the long run. After all, as motivational speaker Paul J. Meyer once said: “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”