Edited and published by Wellness Monster Dina
“Time is money” or so the saying goes but some people prefer another saying: “work smarter, not harder.” But with so many distractions and the loss of private offices, how does one stay focused? Much like an over-worked mother who manages to do all of her Christmas shopping during Black Friday. Get in your head in the game now, so you can go home and relax from a job well done. Here are a few tips to do just that:
Track Your Time
According to a story published by Inc.com by John Rampton, many of us are unaware how much time we take to do our daily tasks. He says that just about 17 percent of us are able to pinpoint how long it takes us to do various tasks, and he says that you plan your day out effectively if you don’t know how long it will take you to simple things like answering emails, returning phone calls, check social media, etc. (https://www.inc.com/john-rampton/15-ways-to-increase-productivity-at-work.html)
Researchers at Florida State University have found that “elite performers” in sports, music and others who work in sessions in lengths of 90 minutes or less were more productive than those who worked longer without taking a break. Even more encouraging, they found that people who are considered “top performers” often worked no more than four and a half hours a day. That’s probably not realistic for most people, but it is motivating to say the least.
Plan Your Day
Schedule your daily tasks to do the most difficult ones during the time of the day when you are the most alert. Some people do better tackling larger projects in the morning while others prefer the afternoon. Whatever works for you, do it.
While you’re scheduling your time, carve out a few minutes here and there for regular breaks. This works in a couple of ways. For one, by taking breaks during long tasks, you’ll keep up a constant level of performance (and the opposite it true without breaks) and you’ll give yourself some milestones to meet along your day. Consider your next cup of coffee as a reward during your next break to help motivate you. It’s also a great idea to schedule in a walk or two. The fresh air and movement will clear your head, keep you motivated and give you some much-needed exercise as well.
Learn to love deadlines too. Many tasks that we do on a regular basis come without a deadline and this only makes it easier for you to push that task to do “tomorrow” which often never comes. Finally, allow yourself to not be perfect when completing your tasks. Better to do the best you can with the time you have than to take too much time trying to be perfect.
Do It Now
Steve Olenski prides himself on being the creator of the “two-minute rule” but this simple tool works surprisingly well. He says that to be effective at the office, look around you and when you see a task that you know will only take two minutes to do (or less), stop everything and do the task right there and then. He says that by doing it now will save time than if you save it for later. Depending on what those tasks are, they can unclutter your desk as well as your mind too. However, avoid multitasking. Why doing two things at once sounds like a good idea, psychologists have found that people tend to lose time when multitasking. You’ll do better to focus on one thing at a time.
While you can’t tell your boss “no” when it comes to meetings, you could tell him/her about this interesting fact: According to Atlassian, the average office worker will spend about 31 hours each month wasting away in meetings. Meetings of course can be important, but if you are the one scheduling them, think the agenda through and see if you can’t get the same tasks accomplished choosing a different route by sending an email or making a phone call instead. Some companies have instituted “stand up” meetings not allowing anyone to sit down which in theory shortens the meetings. According to Rampton, they “can result in increased group arousal, decreased territoriality, and improved group performance.”
Put an End to Distractions
Nothing can get a worker off track faster than the familiar “ding” signaling yet another email. Like Pavlov’s dog, we instinctly stop everything to read said email only to find that it wasn’t all that important to read “right now” and getting back to what you were doing all that much harder to do. Some research has shown that it takes the average worker 26 minutes to get back to work after small interruptions. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2017/10/20/4-ways-to-be-more-productive-at-work/#27367a5219eb) Instead, silence your phone and close your email down while working on various projects. Allow yourself to read emails and return phone calls during the day, but only during the time you have allowed yourself.
If possible, close your door so you can stay focused and will signal to others that you are busy. If you work at a cubicle, consider posting a sign at your desk asking others to respect your privacy while you are trying to get an important project done.
Some people are also more productive working from home, but that can be a pitfall for others who have a harder time focusing on work while at home. Of course, you can bring a little bit of home with you to work by hanging favorite pictures, photos, fresh flowers or knick knacks in your space. Studies have shown that people have increased their productivity by 15% when they had something that brought them joy to look at.
Congratulate Yourself on a Job Well Done
Some days will go better than others. For the good days, take a little time to pat yourself on the back. For the bad, think it through on how to do better the next day, but don’t dwell on it. Clear your head as much as possible and pick things back up where you left then tomorrow.
Word writing text Don t not Be Busy. Be Productive. Business concept for Work efficiently Organize your schedule time Grey silvery [ID 126836307 © Artur Szczybylo | Dreamstime.com]
Busy day and plan on calendar. [ID 66542623 © Penchan Pumila | Dreamstime.com]
Boring meeting. Destroyed, debate. [ID 1621728 © Endostock | Dreamstime.com]