Getting through the working day with a tick on every item on the to-do list is a dream rather than a reality for many. Yet increasing our productivity is within our power if we’re savvy with how we plan our days. These 10 quick tips could just be the help you need to make a difference to your work life:
1. Plan Brainpower Tasks
Notice what time of day you have the most energy and motivation. Whether you’re a morning person or have a post-lunch peak, plan the tasks that require the most brainpower to coincide with the times you have most drive.
2. Focus on One Thing at a Time
Many people feel frustrated when dealing with too many workplace tasks at the same time. Break up your time into task-specific blocks and have designated times to open your inbox, rather than allowing yourself to be interrupted by incoming email notifications all day.
3. Cut Out Distractions
Better managing your email habits is just one distraction you can take control of in order to become more productive. In addition, only allow yourself to check your phone every once in a while, mute WhatsApp groups and other social media alerts, and use headphones if you’re easily distracted by fellow colleagues.
4. Always have a Meeting Agenda
If you’re responsible for organising, chairing or note-taking at meetings, taking some time beforehand to write and circulate an agenda is really important. Being clear about meeting aims makes time away from your desk focused, with a clear goal in sight.
5. Identify Tasks that Need More Input
There’s nothing more disheartening than getting around to a task only to realise you can’t complete it then and there. When looking ahead at all the tasks on your radar, identify the ones that will need input or information from colleagues before you can complete them. Identifying these tasks in advance gives you time to get hold of the input you need, before feeling disappointed by uncompleted to-do lists at the last moment.
6. Eat the Right Food
Energy levels at work are directly related to how you fuel your body. Including more fresh, nutritious and vitamin-rich food in your diet will help you feel increasingly clear-headed, motivated and fresh. Try to reserve the inevitable office cakes and biscuits for special occasions, eating fruit and nuts as your more habitual workplace snacks.
7. Be More Active
The stress of having a long to-do list can tempt us to skip lunch breaks to get everything done, but this can be counter-productive. Getting out at lunchtime for a walk, swim or quick session at the gym can give us the boost we need to feel refreshed and raring to go when returning to work for the afternoon.
8. Get Enough Sleep
Nothing can make a work day drag more than feeling tired. Even people with long commutes and busy social lives can practice good sleep hygiene to feel better during the day. Going to bed at the same time each night to ensure you get an ideal eight hours can go a long way towards increasing productivity. If you struggle to sleep sometimes, switch off electronic gadgets, have a bath or drink some camomile tea to unwind in the run-up to bedtime.
9. Be Happy
Research suggests that having a more positive outlook increases productivity at work. Make sure you plan in time to do things you love – whether it’s during the work day or in your own time. It could be listening to your favourite music, treating yourself to the cinema once a week or having a picture on your desk that makes you smile. It really can make a big difference.
10. Finish With a List
Making a to-do list for the following day helps give a sense of closure on the day you’ve just had, reducing the likelihood of thinking about work after-hours. Ensure the to-do list is realistic for the time you have the following day too, taking meetings and particularly urgent tasks into account.
Taking control of your work days and planning them in ways that suit you will help you become more productive, happier and healthier at work.