From the moment you get to work in the morning, you’re probably planning all the things you intend to get done. By the time you head home, you may wonder how the day got away from you! We’re all looking to squeeze a few more hours out of the day, or a way to finish just one more task. If you’re ready to hit the ground running and accomplish more, try these easy, effective tips for being ultra-productive every day.
Contrary to what we’ve been told for years, multi-tasking is not always a good option. Most people can’t actually work on more than one task at a time, and instead are frequently switching gears between projects, making them less productive in the long run.
If you have a lot of different projects to work on, try using the Pomodoro Technique as a time/task management tool. This technique breaks down work into intervals, usually 25 minutes each, separated by short breaks. Instead of having a ton of folders, browsers, and emails pulled up at once, choose a single task to work on and close everything else. Start your timer and get to work. If you finish the task or reach your time limit, close the project. Take a short break to get some water, stretch your legs, or check your Facebook. Then get started on the next task.
Using a method like the Pomodoro technique is a great way to hone your focus and ensure that you are giving each project its due attention. It also provides variety to your day so you’re less likely to get burned out or bored.
Each time you stop what you’re doing to check an email, you’re wasting valuable time by switching gears, losing momentum on current projects, and allowing yourself to be distracted. It’s hard to look at a single email without scrolling through others, and think about how much time you spend searching through emails to find something specific. See all the ways your email inbox is costing you time?
As emails come in during the day, try sorting them into folders in your inbox. You can do this manually by moving the email to the folder, or set up rules to automatically move emails from a certain sender or with a specific keyword.
Here are four example folders:
Personal – For emails that don’t need to be addressed right away, such as benefits information, personal emails between coworkers, etc.
Newsletters – Newsletters and automated emails can automatically be filtered to a folder like this for you to browse through and read when you have a free moment.
Action – Create a folder just for items that require some kind of action or response. Once they’ve been taken care of, move the email to a different folder for archiving.
Artwork – It’s good to have a particular folder for organizing artwork files so they’re easier to find later during a project.
These are just examples; create folders and rename/reorganize them until you find what works best for you.
Sometimes the temptation to peruse the internet is just too overwhelming. What’s happening on Facebook right now? Where can I get the best deal on a new laptop? When was the Louisiana Purchase? The internet is full of interesting things to read and do, so if you want to be mega productive, you have to resist!
Most people make a habit of having at least one internet window open on their computer. Try exiting out of that for a while. If the search bar isn’t quite so easy to get to, you’re more likely to stay on task instead of getting sidetracked by the web.
Everyone has heard that making a to-do list can help you stay on track, whether it’s at the grocery store or working on a big project. You can take that notion up a notch and use your to-do list as an agenda. First, make a detailed list of all the projects/tasks you want to work on. Then set yourself a reminder for every hour, on the hour. At that reminder, look at your to-do list and cross off anything you’ve accomplished and move on to the next task.
This method helps ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Plus, you get the benefit of crossing items off your list to help you stay motivated! As new tasks roll in throughout the day, write them down immediately. The process of writing tasks down can help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed, and it lets you see everything you need to get done, so you can prioritize.
If there’s something on your mind that’s preventing you from concentrating, try giving yourself a set amount of time to think about/work on it. If you have a move coming up and your mind keeps wandering to think about apartments, take a ten-minute break from your work to write down your thoughts, do a quick search online, or call a realtor. Once you’ve given yourself a few minutes to focus on the thing distracting you, it’ll be easier to put it aside and get some real work done!
A lot of people make to-do lists first thing in the morning. Going this route, you might forget important items that you needed to finish the day before.
An hour before you leave work, make a list of any outstanding items from the day. Make notes about where you’re at with each task, and prioritize what you want to get started on tomorrow. You should have enough time to email/meet with coworkers about any barriers impeding your progress or ask any questions that will help you moving forward. Tomorrow you’ll be ready to hit the ground running as soon as you get to work!
Productivity can be hard and staying focused can be even harder. With these six tips, you will leave your desk feeling proud of all that you accomplished.