I have seen countless habits that can keep a person from staying productive at work.
Tech and gadgets aside, the more human alternative is to simply learn to discipline our minds and create new mental habits to be efficient and productive.
As you learn to train your brain and adapt these habits over time, you'll notice a greater sense of control over your day.
1. Map out your day in the morning.
Have a morning ritual where you plan what your day will look like, then stick to it before distractions start to pile up and fires need to be put out.
2. Set realistic goals.
While you're planning out your day, come up with one or two goals you want to accomplish before heading home. To ensure success, make sure to break these down into smaller tasks in support of those goals so it doesn't feel like you're staring up at Mt. Everest when you begin your day.
3. Don't start your day with email.
One sure way to minimize interruptions is to avoid jumping into email because once you open your inbox, you may be sucked into a whirlpool of others' needs. Unless you're expecting something of critical importance, do this last.
4. Avoid multitasking.
Productive people are successful in managing their time because they avoid juggling many things. Research says multi-tasking is a myth and can be damaging to our brains. You end up splitting your focus over many tasks, losing focus, lowering the quality of your work and taking longer to hit your goals.
5. Take frequent breaks.
One study by The Draugiem Group found that its most productive employees preferred a work routine where they spent, on average, 52 minutes engrossed in their work, took a 17-minute break, and then returned to their work. The bottom line: The secret to retaining the highest level of productivity over the span of a workday is not working longer--but working smarter with frequent breaks.
6. Keep meetings under five minutes.
The old ritual of booking conference rooms and clogging calendars with 30 or 60-minutes of drudgery is being replaced by five-minute huddles where teams cut to the chase and make decisions on the spot. The hard rule? Keep it under five minutes or be ready to be cut off by your peers. At Fingerpaint Marketing, a New York marketing agency, if co-workers argue over a point or drone on beyond the allotted time, music is played signaling that it's time to stop talking.