In today’s ever-changing, fast moving digital world, it can be difficult to not only think strategically but also be productive at work.
Let’s face it, we’ve all had those mornings where we get to the office early with the best intentions—then we get off track. Maybe it starts with coffee, checking emails, answering the phone, a quick look at social media feeds, discussing weekend plans with our co-workers …and the next thing you know, it’s lunch time.
While we all may wish there were more hours in the day or a magic potion to increasing our productivity at work, here are some practical productivity tips to keep you motivated, focused and fulfilled.
Start Your Day with Your Most Difficult Task or Project
In high school, the most demanding teacher my sophomore year gave me great advice that I transferred to both my professional and personal life. I learned to start my homework by doing the most difficult subject first. While my mind is fresh and my energy is highest, I dig into the task or project at work that is the most arduous or complex. As a result of tackling a job that requires a lot of brainpower, I often get a natural mental high. While I have no evidence that this natural high is similar to what runner’s experience, I bet you will find it leaves you stimulated and feeling like you can accomplish most anything for the remainder of the day. Make sure your first hour of work sets the tone for the entire day.
Turn Off Notifications
Our children are being coached by teachers and school mentors to set aside time each day to be “distraction free” from text and social notifications. Families are engaging in Digi-free time. And at work, we all have days where we the enticement of email, voicemail and social media are hard to resist. With every interruption, it takes the average person 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on track. While some are necessary, others just cause us to spiral into unproductiveness.
Since we all know there’s an “app for that,” here are 14 tools to help you stay focused at work by turning off notifications and carving out uninterrupted time.
Do Your Best Thinking the First Time
We’re all familiar with giving it the “old college try” as a phrase to express giving something one’s best shot. That’s probably no more true than when some of us were actually in college before the 21st century, using a typewriter for a term paper that required our critical thinking to be deliberate, thoughtful and complete. Making changes with the typewriter at 2 a.m. wasn’t easy or pretty.
In today’s digital world, sometimes we all suffer from knowing that changes are all too easy to make–resulting in sloppy or incomplete thinking from the get-go. Take the time to think critically, anticipate issues or questions, be proactive and do your best work at the beginning. You will be amazed how deliberation increases productivity and decreases burnout.
Create a To-Do List at the End of Day
Another way to ensure you don’t procrastinate or get stuck in the morning is to have a To-Do List waiting for you each day. There’s no better way to feel organized than to have your day mapped out and prioritized. I find the best time to create my To-Do List is at the end of a day or week. It allows me to assess what still needs to be done, consider what is most important, plan out who I need to connect with and empty my brain. I don’t try to make my list pretty and sometimes my list encompasses an entire week. Crossing things off a list leads to a great sense of accomplishment and arriving at the office with plan is invaluable.
Distractions are estimated to cost businesses $650 billion each year. But more importantly, distractions can be destructive to our own happiness. It’s important to both our professional and personal well-being to be cognizant of how productivity impacts us.