By Kris Crews
Life as we know it has changed all around us and continues to pivot. Many of us are still learning how to navigate the challenges of working from home, staying focused, and implementing techniques that can help us complete our work within a day or specific time frame. Though day-to-day work can feel mundane, there are ways to make it more interesting. Let’s look at these five tips to discover how to stay productive during work.
Prioritize Your Tasks From Most to Least Important
In a single day, there can be hundreds of tasks to complete, both big and small. Now, all of these tasks are important, but some are more essential and/or time-sensitive tasks than others. Therefore, when planning out your day and deciding how to prioritize tasks, take some time to ask yourself what you can complete right away and what you can afford to work on later in the day or week. For example, is answering 20 miscellaneous emails more important than creating an agenda for an important call that will take place at the beginning of your workday?
Invest in a Planner or Create a List
Planners are a helpful (and creative) way to keep track of your day-to-day assignments. Many stores sell both simple or fun planners that allow you to plan out the whole year. But if you don’t know your schedule that far in advance, your planner is also great for more immediate goals and tasks — monthly, weekly, evenly hourly. Basically, whatever kind of scheduling or planning works best for you, you can use your planner to do it, and you might be surprised to see how much more tangible your goals feel. Another great thing about planners is that you can make them more fun and exciting by color coding, using sticky notes, adding quotes, and anything else you can think of. If you take the time to make it more personal and inviting, approaching work won’t feel as overwhelming.
If you’re not one for planners, try creating a to-do list. This list can be written or typed out. Writing out your tasks can help improve your general understanding of the material and allow the memory of what you write down to have more longevity in your brain.
Take a Break
Don’t skip out on your breaks during the workday. Taking breaks at work is vital because it improves your focus and allows your brain to reset after loading your mind with information or staring at a screen for hours. Even if you can’t take a long break, a microbreak can increase your productivity up to 13% and can reduce your fatigue levels significantly.
If you’re able to, try adopting the Pomodoro Technique. This time management technique involves a timer/stopwatch to help break down work into two specific buckets: work time and rest time. Here’s how this method works and how you can implement it in your day:
- Look at your to-do list and choose a task to work on.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and begin working.
- Work on this task until the timer rings.
- Start another timer for five minutes and begin your break.
- After this timer buzzes, choose another job to work on.
- Repeat the cycle four times, then take a 15-minute break.
Moreover, be sure to have a comfortable chair when working, and stand up, and stretch at regular intervals. Walking around and adding some movement into your day can help wake up the body and reduce stiffness and cramping after being sedentary for long periods.
Track Your Work
Tracking your work and having all of your tasks listed in one place is an excellent practice for staying organized. Platforms like Asana, Trello, Airtable, and others make it easy to track your work by putting each assignment in either a list, calendar, timeline, or card view. In addition, using one of these tools gives you a broader picture of what’s due, when it’s due, who the assignee is, and the task’s status (i.e., in progress, on hold, pending review, or complete).
Turn Off Notifications
Turn off your notifications or put your phone on “do not disturb” when working. Doing this will help eliminate distractions and will support you in focusing on one task at a time rather than attempting to multitask, which can actually reduce your efficiency and performance. In addition to turning off your notifications, try logging out of your social media accounts or putting a time limit on how much you can view it during the workday.
Now that you have read through these tips, take some time to try them out. If they work for you, go ahead and share them with your friends, family, and colleagues. You can also then ask them if they have additional tips on how to stay organized and productive during the workday.
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