- Regardless of where one works from (home, company office, coworking space), it’s easy and quite common to get distracted.
- Procrastinating can lead to feelings of unproductiveness and, eventually, more stress.
- Some techniques and habits can help people stay on track and make them more efficient while at work.
Ever feel like the entire day blew past you and you didn’t accomplish everything you had in mind? If you do, welcome to the club.
Whether you work from home, a coworking space, or your company’s headquarters, it’s easy (and quite common) to get distracted and procrastinate; social media news feeds, buzzing phones, people talking, the rain or sunshine, meetings… the list is endless.
So, what can you do to get back on track? More importantly, what can you do to make sure you stay on track and are efficient while at work?
There’s no perfect solution for all, but there are techniques and small changes that you can start applying to your day to day work life to make sure you stay productive and meet your goals on a weekly, daily, and monthly basis.
It’s tempting to check an email as soon as it hits your inbox or your phone as you feel it vibrate on your desk. But, don’t do it; even if it’s something small that you can take care of in less than a minute. Even eating while working isn’t worth it, no matter how short on time you are. Focusing on one task at a time–even if it’s for a short amount of time–will help you complete the task faster.
To stop yourself from multitasking, reduce distractions. Put your phone on airplane mode or silent, close social media sites, and turn off email desktop notifications.
The above being said, you need to prioritize tasks. Write down, by hand or computer, the tasks you need to get done by the end of each day or each week; prioritize them according to deadlines, required man hours, and focus levels.
When prioritizing, think about the times of day in which you tend to perform your best and are your most productive. Work on tasks that require a lot of focus and time to complete during that time. Leave smaller tasks for hours when you tend to struggle the most with being productive; fulfilling small tasks one at a time will help you get some rhythm.
Listen to your body. If you can’t focus or feel anxious, stand up and take a walk. If you’re burned out, you won’t be able to focus, regardless of how hard you try. In fact, taking small, regular breaks helps concentration and boosts your energy and mood.
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Take a snack break (more on this later) or a five-minute walk. Some people use the Pomodoro Technique to help them keep track of their work and break time; the Pomodoro Technique requires that you work for 25 minutes and take a break for 5 minutes. Every 4 pomodoros, you get to take a long break, up to 30 minutes.
If you don’t have any set deadlines, it’s easier to procrastinate and put things off until a later time or date. So, do yourself a favor and set your own deadlines. Doing so will help you complete tasks faster. By setting shorter deadlines for yourself, you’ll be motivating yourself to complete every day and in a lesser amount of time.
Instead of taking three weeks to finish the presentation you have to give, you can finish it in a few days if you set yourself (and force yourself) to do it.
We all underestimate the importance and power of a good night’s sleep. If you feel tired, your chances of focusing go to the floor and your chances of feeling burned outsoar to the roof. Try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night; this will help you feel refreshed, charged, and ready to power through your workday.
Getting enough sleep will also help you feel and be more efficient, since you won’t be falling asleep at work or dozing off as you check emails or read reports.
Nourish yourself (food for thought)
Make sure you are eating healthy foods throughout the day to avoid sugar highs and crashes and to keep your brain fueled and focused. What you eat can greatly influence your brain power and your ability to perform your best at work. Eating the right foods can transform the after-lunch slump into the after-lunch power hour. On that note, check out the Best Snacks to Improve Cognitive Function in the Workplace.