Tips to Stay Productive at Work
Just showing up at your office isn't enough in today's fast-paced work environments. You have to get things done to survive and thrive. Everyone is more productive some days than others, but if you find yourself in a slump, devise a strategy for staying effective and efficient, one that is tailored to your own list of distractions. Here are some tips to get you started.
Treat Your Body Well
Getting enough sleep, making time for daily exercise and eating healthy food all boost your brain's resistance to distraction. The price you pay for sleep deprivation is no secret these days, and one of its main symptoms is an inability to concentrate. Regular exercise beats stress and makes it easier to get those requisite hours of snooze time every night, while healthy eating fuels you. When you find yourself reaching for sugary beverages or unhealthy snacks, take a moment to remember the sluggish feeling you get after eating this kind of snack food.
Unplug Social Media
Alcohol or drugs may come to mind when you think addiction, but more people are finding it extremely difficult to live through even a workday without social media. Yes, that means Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all your other favorites. Stay away from your social media accounts at work unless your job involves interacting with clients there. Check quickly for messages during your lunch break if you must. These distractions prevent you from focusing on your work.
Write a To-Do List
Creating a to-do list every morning may be viewed as “old school” by some, but it still provides a great road map for a productive day. Keeping on track via an official list on a mobile app is a simple matter of following your own directions, which is easier than innovating when your energy is low. Use your list-making time to set priorities for the day as well, describing each task's urgency. Assign an A, B or C to every item, with A being an absolute must-do. B might be something you hope to accomplish and C can be an in-case-you-have-time task.
Break Big Tasks into Small Ones
Break down big projects into bite-size tasks when you're making that to-do list. It will make them more approachable. Organization in an integral part of productivity and it opens doors to more efficient results. If your task is to write a big report, you may waste time fretting over how to begin. Breaking down this sort of foreboding assignment into managable segments allows you to jump right in. The sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing each small task and crossing it off the list propels you forward to the next.
It may be hard to take a break from your work when deadlines loom, or when you have a million things you must accomplish. Take a break anyway, and you'll find that it increases your productivity. Work in chunks of time — between 60 and 90 minutes — then stop and recharge. Taking a break does not mean checking your social media accounts, however. Give your brain 15 minutes of downtime by unplugging and taking a walk or a nap.
Keep Things Neat
Straightening out your work space is a great end-of-the-day ritual. You'll arrive the following morning to find the files relating to your top project ready and waiting for you. Irrelevant papers will be filed away or in the garbage. Some people claim to work best in untidy spaces, but try tidying up for a few weeks and you may agree that a messy desk is not conducive to productivity.
Kick the Multitasking Habit
It may be possible for you to do two, three or even four things at the same time thanks to technology, and you may think that multitasking is expected of you. However, it often reduces productivity. Productivity is based on concentration. How can you concentrate on an important telephone conversation when you are simultaneously editing the report you wrote yesterday? You'll have to resort to multitasking occasionally, but try to focus on one thing at a time as much as possible.
It takes energy to be negative, so you'll have more to invest in your work if you try to look on the bright side. A positive, optimistic attitude stops your mind from heading into stressful territory. Try reminding yourself that you can get the job done, or smiling as you walk into your office. You'll also get better feedback from your peers, which is always a plus.