We live in hectic times. While it seemed that technology will make our life easier and allow us to have more time for ourselves, the reality is completely different. Through all the technological advancements that we made in the last 20 years, we are now as busy as ever.
But at the same time, only 60% of the work time is spent on actual work. With all the distractions, emails, calls, and notifications we can not be surprised.
In this post, we will give you 14 tips on how to stay focused on your tasks and be as productive as you can, so your To-Do list will be empty at the end of each day!
With introductions behind us, let’s get into it.
Let’s face it. Your to-do list will have some items you like more than others. Even when you love your job, there are the parts of every day you like the least.
That is okay! There is no way around it. We all have to do things we don’t want to. Putting those unpleasant tasks first rather than last can help boost your productivity. The longer you spend dreading an unenjoyable task, the harder it will be to get started.
To stay productive, get your least favorite jobs done first. This sounds counterintuitive, but the weight off your shoulders will make all the difference. When you do the worst thing first, the rest of the day feels downhill. Start strong, and you will stay productive longer.
Create a Workflow
Depending on your schedule, there is a part of the day where you naturally feel sluggish and unproductive. That could be right after lunch when you have a full stomach or at the end of the day when you are almost done with work.
Figure out what time you are most productive and least productive, and use that to your advantage by creating and managing your workflow. Assign yourself simple, easy-to-complete tasks for your least productive time of day. That way, you will have the satisfaction of completing many small tasks when you need them most.
Reserve your long, complex tasks for the time of day when you feel the peak of your focus. If you have items on your list that will take an hour or more, plan to complete them when you work best. Remember to make your schedule work for you.
If you have ever tried to do three things at once, you know multitasking doesn’t work. When you divide your attention, all of your work suffers. You might not notice the time spent glancing at your phone or reading an article in another tab, but it will add up.
Even though you know you are at your best when you focus on one thing, it can be hard to stop yourself from multitasking. When you catch yourself answering an email at the same time as typing up a report, redirect your focus to each task, one at a time.
The age of smartphones and social media has taken a toll on everyone’s attention span. Don’t feel bad if you struggle with this. It might be hard at first to de-clutter your workflow, but it is well worth the effort. Teach yourself to work on one thing at a time, and you will naturally work faster. You will be less stressed, too.
Don’t Put Off Communication
How many times have you thought about emailing a coworker or checking in with a supervisor but thought better of it? When you avoid asking for clarity, you hurt your productivity. Don’t put off asking questions or scheduling a meeting.
Asking for direction is never the wrong choice. Your boss will appreciate your clear communication, and you will get more done with the expectations clear in your mind. After all, there are no stupid questions.
Don’t wait to ask, either! Be mindful of the time it may take your coworkers to get back to you with an answer. Get your communication out of the way as soon as possible. That way, you won’t be stuck waiting for a reply when you could be working.
It is natural to think you will get the most done when you work as long as possible. Unfortunately, the brain doesn’t like all work and no play! To make the most of your time, be sure to take short breaks.
These breaks could be a walk around the block, a quick snack, or just a few minutes spent looking at social media. Whatever you choose to do, try and schedule your break time as rigorously as your work time.
Set a specific time limit on your break and stick to it. When you allow yourself a break every few hours, your productivity will soar. A good rule of thumb is to take five minutes of break for every hour of work.
Stretch Your Legs
One of the most simple productivity tips in the world is to take time to stretch. Next time you are in a call with a client or in a meeting, try standing up or pacing.
The simple act of standing up and moving a little will increase your blood flow and leave you feeling energized. Try standing up every hour to touch your toes or grab a drink. That extra boost of energy will carry over into a productive feeling.
Studies show that sitting for extended periods is bad for your health. When you have time to take a short break, consider taking a walking break. A brisk walk around the block or a lap around the office can change your whole mood. When you do sit back down to work again, your back and legs will thank you.
Use Accountability Software
You might think watching the clock is bad for productivity, but there are exceptions to the rule. Using accountability software helps you keep track of how much time you spend working and not working.
Digital time monitoring software can help you identify what is a good use of time and how long you should expect a task to take. The result is an informed, productive workflow. Try noting how long you spend doing things like reading memos or filing reports. When you make your daily and weekly to-do list, you can use those time estimates to accurately plan your time.
Of course, this will alert you to how much time you spend not working. If you tend to put off taking a break and then find you spend 20-30 minutes scrolling through social media feeds, you have found the problem. Rather than wasting a little bit of time here and there, try to schedule your breaks accordingly.
By using accountability software, you can decide for yourself how long you should work and when to take a break. Ultimately, you will be more productive with your time when you think mindfully about how you use it.
Skip Long Emails
The traditional office environment seems to run on pointless emails. Infinite chains of “okay, got it” with every member of the team carbon copied are more than just an eye-rolling annoyance. They waste a considerable amount of time.
To boost your productivity and make the most of your workday, keep your emails short and to the point. When replying, consider if you really should reply personally or it can just a mass email to everyone. Avoid answering a message unless it actually needs an answer. When you do send an email, avoid flowery language and pleasantries.
Not only will you save your own time, but you will also save time for everyone you communicate with. Your coworkers will thank you for being brief.
Most of you know Ctrl+C for copy and C+V for paste, but how many other shortcuts do you know? Knowing standard keyboard shortcuts may not seem like it saves you a lot of time, but simple productivity tips like this one really add up!
Depending on the program you use, some shortcuts may be more useful than others. Next time you use a drop-down menu in a program, take note of the shortcut keys you could have used. You might not remember them right away. That is okay! Try writing yourself a little note and taping it to your computer monitor. Before you know it, you will have those shortcuts memorized.
No matter how you use your computer, some shortcuts are universal. Here are some shortcuts you should know.
|CTRL||y||Repeat your last action|
|CTRL||S||Save a document|
|CTRL||Z||Undo your last action|
Make a To-Do List
You might think making lists wastes valuable work time. After all, making a list and checking it twice does take up billable hours. Like many simple productivity tips, list-making takes seconds and saves minutes.
Start your day by identifying what you hope to accomplish. Write down how long you think each item should take, and rank them in order of priority. If some of the items on the list can wait, move them to another day. With your workflow clearly outlined, it is easy to stay on track and motivated.
There are also some hidden benefits to making a to-do list. When you look at all your tasks together, you might see some things that really aren’t important at all. If you can eliminate items from your list, all the better! Take stock of your task list and make sure everything on it really does deserve your time. If it doesn’t, let it go.
Ask for Help
Whether you are in an office or taking care of your home, never be afraid of asking for help. Some jobs just go smoother when someone is there to help you. A great way to jumpstart your productivity is to ask for assistance with a complex task.
It can be intimidating to ask for help, especially in a work setting. You might think your team will think you are incompetent if you ask for help with tasks assigned to you. The truth is, it is hard to ask for help. When you do reach out and collaborate, your coworkers will respect your team spirit.
Remember that no man is an island. You are at your best when you feel comfortable asking for help. See if a coworker can proofread your presentation or if a family member can dry dishes while you wash them. Many hands make light work!
How many of you have heard the recommendation to drink 8 glasses of water per day? Now, how many of you actually do? Taking care of your health is essential to maintaining your energy level. It is hard to be productive when your body is not at its best.
Make sure to keep a water bottle nearby all day. If you have a hard time staying hydrated, try using an app to track your water intake. 8 glasses of water may seem like a lot, but if you sip water all day, your body will thank you.
The same goes for proper nutrition! When you fix yourself a balanced meal and several healthy snacks, you will feel your productivity soar. It’s hard to think without proper fuel. Remember, you can’t work when you are hungry.
Make it a Habit
People are creatures of habit. Tap into your industrious nature by making work a habit. When you do the same tasks at the same time each day, it becomes second nature. The less time you spend thinking, the more time you spend doing.
Try making a daily list of things you wish you did without thinking. You will be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to build a good habit into your workday.
You probably don’t struggle to brush your teeth every night or comb your hair. Those acts happen naturally because you have made them habits. There is no limit to what you can make a habit of. Give this a try by making some of these simple productivity tips your new habits!
Use the Right Tools
In the age of the internet, there is an app or program for every task. So why are so many people still filling out spreadsheets by hand? The next time you catch yourself using a pen and paper, when a program will suffice, stop.
We are surrounded by technology that can improve our workflow. Every document photocopied is a waste of time and energy. Make sure you are working in the 21st century by using the right programs for the job.
From document sharing to giving presentations, there are tons of productivity-boosting programs available. Optimize your workflow by making your technology do the heavy lifting.
You may lose a little time learning the new programs, but it will be worth it. Take any opportunity to automate your day or improve your efficiency. Even when you only save a few minutes, that time will add up.
If you will apply these 14 tips to your daily life, you are sure to see significant improvements. But there is one more tip that if possibly the most important one – “Do it”.
No, it is not a Nike reference and may sound weird, but truly the most important productivity tip is just to start doing the task. Put the mobile phone away, close Youtube, do not let your mind wander to Instagram, just focus on the task in front of you and do it until it is finished.
The thing is, that before you start actual work – every task seems daunting and impossible to complete. But the moment you actually start working on it, you will be surprised how easily you will complete it.
Vlad Falin is an online marketer and founder of Costofincome.com, a blog about digital marketing. There he writes about online business and digital marketing tools.