There are only so many hours in a day. It is difficult to feel accomplished when your workday wasn’t all that productive. This feeling of not doing things to your full potential is a great feeling to have. It means that you are hungry and are setting yourself up for success; Congratulations on being a KILLER!
Now that you have realized that you have more in the tank to give. You picked the right place to come to for advice. You can get more things done in one of two ways. One put in more hours. Two, work smarter in the same hours. I am not a big fan of working longer than what my contract says, so this article is going to revolve on working smarter.
I understand that being productive at work is difficult. But take solace in the fact that it is not rocket science. Millions of people live productive days and so can you after you incorporate these tips in your workday.
Plan your day ahead of time
This is the first thing you need to do, as this will define what will get done today. Planning your day before you start it is one of the most important things you will do in this chase for productivity. Wake up 15-20 minutes earlier than you normally wake up and write down your day on a planner app or just a basic journal. Start by knocking off the quick task first (More on this further down the article). Then time for the most important ones and lastly do the ones that can wait. Knowing what you have to do before you start working is a real productivity increaser.
This is a continuation of my previous point. When you will plan your day you need to prioritize tasks. You need to identify which tasks need to be done ASAP and which task can wait a while. Doing this will allow you to get meaningful work done before it will be time to go home. You will feel accomplished knowing that the objectives which you completed that day were of significant value.
Be proactive, not reactive
Instead of waiting for calls and tasks to come to you, you flip the table. If you are waiting for calls from people and your work depends on those calls? So, instead of waiting for them to call you, you call them. This way you can start doing your work sooner rather than later. Send follow up emails and focus on getting the things which depend on other people started and finished quickly. So that you can focus on the task that only requires your input.
Work in 90-minute intervals
Researchers at Florida State University found out that elite athletes, musicians, and entrepreneurs who worked in 90-minute intervals were more productive than people who worked more than 90-minutes. Working in 90-minute intervals allows your brain to remain fresh throughout the task. 90 minutes of work and 20 minutes of break afterward is the best thing to do for productivity.
Remember the 2-minute rule
The 2-minute rule means that menial tasks shouldn’t take up more than 2-minutes of your time. This brings me back to a previous point of prioritizing tasks. 2-minute tasks or tasks that you know would not take more than two minutes should be done immediately. This will almost always take less time than getting back to it. A lot of times these 2-minute tasks get overlooked. And then you remember it after the workday is done. You will be at home and would just feel unaccomplished all over again.
Set your own deadlines
Setting your own deadlines is one of the things I myself have used. It simply means you set a time or a date deadline so that you can finish your work efficiently. Setting a deadline for completing 3 files by 12:00 PM is an example of self-imposed deadlines. These deadlines are good for keeping you honest with your work and increasing productivity overall.
Put your phone on do not disturb
Our smartphones rule our lives. We continuously get notifications from 3-4 different apps. Someone uploads a video, some other person messages us. Everything of the sort is a distraction from what we are supposed to be doing; WORK! We can’t be away from our mobile phones for long periods of time and I get that. This is where the 90-minute interval thing will help. Turn your phone on Do Not Disturb for 90-minutes. Work distraction-free, with no checking your phone for that 90- minutes. And then after the 90 minutes are over, reply to your friends and like the pictures that they uploaded for the next 20 minutes. Repeat this over and over again to get the most out of your day.
Limit water cooler talk
Ahhh, the corporate gossip spot. This is why people dont come back sooner than 15 minutes when they get up to drink water. They stand there and waste their time talking about their boss, job and co-workers with – Hear this out, OTHER CO-WORKERS! Isn’t that something. Well, all of this water-cooler talk is unnecessary and all the gossip and non-work related discussions should be kept for your lunch break or after work.
This could be the thing seriously killing your productivity because those 10-15 minutes add up.
Take advantage of your commute
You probably travel 20-45 minutes to work every day. That is a lot of time which you just waste staring into space. Why not use this time to the best of your abilities. You can use your commute to plan out your day, not just at work but after work as well. And even if you come by car or a bike you can still plan out your day, in your head when you are driving and then on paper when you arrive at your destination.
If you get 8 hours of sleep and do light exercise along with following all of these tips. You will be the employee of the month in no time!