In a typical workday, there will always be unforeseen issues that pop up and demand attention. Add to that the distractions of emails, ringing phones and a fair amount of scanning social media for news headlines, and it's easy to wonder where the day went. Boosting your productivity requires some planning.
Here are 7 ways to get more out of each day.
1. Identify Your Power Hours
Everyone has certain time periods when they are naturally at their most focused and energetic. For some it's early in the day or mid-morning. Others hit their stride late in the afternoon. Recognize the time you are most energized and on top of your game. Whenever your peak productivity period occurs, take full advantage of it and schedule your most important tasks for this time frame. Do your best to block out interruptions during this window.
2. Build in Accountability
Many people are most motivated when they know someone is counting on them. If you know this is true for you, recruit others to hold you accountable. This can be difficult if you are the boss or work alone, so look to clients, employees and investors who are relying on your progress. Setting a project deadline for a client or announcing your goals to employees and reporting on them in staff meetings can help you stay on track. It's also helpful to remember you are setting an example for your team.
3. Do Something Small
Sometimes a task list is so overwhelming it's hard to know where to begin. Start by picking something minor. Just as it's smart to warm up your body before exercise, it makes sense to get your head in the game by accomplishing something easy. You'll get some momentum to carry you into the harder, more daunting tasks.
4. Minimize Distraction
In our hyper connected world it can be difficult to concentrate without the ping of a text message or a notice that more mail has landed in our inbox. A work-related Internet search can take you down a rabbit hole of interesting articles and social media updates. Instead of reacting to devices, turn them off whenever possible. Then schedule time to check messages and return calls. Just 30 minutes of highly focused time can move us significantly closer to our goals.
5. Create an Inspiring Space
Even if your office is in a closet in your house, make it a place you enjoy. Add energy with your favorite color, whether through paint or artwork. Frame a couple of your favorite quotes and hang them up. Make sure you have ample lighting for both tasks and ambiance. Include photos of your family, your pet or a favorite vacation. Sitting down at your work space should be comfortable, so invest in a good quality chair.
6. Prioritize Your Tasks
Identify the "must happen today" items and move them to the top of your list. Assign all activity to a timeline. This is especially important with projects that don't have a specific deadline and are easy to keep putting off.
Be strategic; if some of the items on your list are not mission critical, cross them off. When possible, look for ways to delegate tasks. Most importantly, write them down - if you keep a mental checklist instead of writing down tasks, valuable brain power that could benefit projects is instead wasted on keeping track of assignments.
7. Take a Break
No matter how eager you are to take on the world, resist the temptation to give 110 percent every minute of the day. Get up from your desk every hour to refill your water, walk around the office or otherwise move your body. When you finish a task, reward yourself with a ten-minute break to check headlines or read an interesting article. Get out of the office at lunchtime, whether it's to meet a friend, read a book or go exercise. Actions like these are refreshing and rejuvenating, priming you to tackle whatever else is on your list.