Have you ever gotten to the end of the day and thought, “Where did all the time go?”
Since you’re reading this post, my guess is yes.
Don’t beat yourself up over it. For most of us, productivity is a learned behavior. The good news is, you’re taking the initiative to do just that. The 6 tenets of productivity listed below will help you tighten up your time management and get you up and running like a well-oiled machine.
At the end of the day, make a list of what you want to accomplish the next day. Figuring this out beforehand will knock out groggy guesswork in the morning and improve the overall flow of your day.
By starting your day right, the rest of your day is likely to continue that way.
But the biggest challenge with pre-planning your day is sticking to it.
The best way to overcome this challenge is to briefly share your to-do list with your spouse, co-worker, roommate, friend, or anyone else in your social circle. Talking through your plan of attack will help you envision the following day in greater detail and make following through that much easier.
Create a Power Hour
Starting your morning right can give you the momentum you need for a productive day. But if you just try to power through your to-do list, you’ll burn out mentally and feel overwhelmed.
That’s where creating a power hour comes into play.
Essentially, a power hour is a way of creating efficiency by enforcing a tight deadline. It’s an hour where you buckle down, get your game face on, and tackle your to-do list.
The best way to plan a power hour is to break it down into three 20-minute timed sessions. For example, if you wanted to write a blog, your sessions could look like this: outline (20 min), write main point #1 (20 min), write main point #2 (20 min).
During a power hour, make sure to:
- Place the list of what you want to accomplish in front of you
- Go to a place where you won’t be distracted
- Put your phone on silent and out of sight
- Close unnecessary tabs and disable email notifications
When performing a power hour, give 100% to your tasks. Have a pen and blank sheet of paper nearby for those pop-up, distracting thoughts that are sure to come.
When the time runs out, you’ll be amazed at what you’ve accomplished.
Do you ever get back from lunch, sit at your desk, and feel your eyes glaze over as you try to get back to work? Bad eating habits and unhealthy food choices will weigh you down—physically and mentally.
Eating junk food will make your mind sluggish and tired. It can take hours for your mind to get over the afternoon lull processed foods cause. Don’t let lunch waste valuable time.
Instead, use your lunch break to eat something healthy and green. Then, go for a walk. Moving around will boost your energy level and get your blood pumping.
When you return to your desk, your eyes will be bright and your mind will be recharged, ready to handle the last part of the day.
Think you’re a pro multi-tasker? Research reveals you aren’t.
Psychology Today estimates that you may be up to 40% less productive when you switch between tasks (aka multi-tasking). In fact, you aren’t only less productive, you are also less attentive, prone to make more errors, and experience increased difficulty recalling information than someone completing one task at a time.
Despite what studies say, many people argue that they’re great at multi-tasking and couldn’t get everything done if they didn’t.
But it’s simply not true.
Human beings just don’t have the ability to take on more than one thing at a time. Our brains take time to focus. Moving like a fluttering hummingbird from one task to another forces our minds to change direction and isn’t effective.
Think of it like Newton’s first law of motion—an object in motion stays in motion.
Our minds have momentum when tackling a specific task. Stopping that momentum takes energy, and even more energy is required to get it going in a new direction. Make it easy on yourself. Keep that forward movement going by sticking to one task at a time.
Set Long-Term Goals
When you walk through the office doors, it’s all too easy to lose sight of the big picture. The coffee maker breaks, emails pour through, the receptionist calls out sick, and your chair begins to squeak. What a day!
If you’re hyper-focused on the day-to-day, then you probably won’t be moving closer to achieving your ambitions. It’s possible to be busy without being productive—so don’t sweat the small stuff.
Defining your overall goals will help you strive towards reaching them. Ask yourself: What are you working for? From there, take time to plan out in detail how you’re going to make your hopes and dreams come to life.
Use Your Breaks
Relaxing lunch breaks don’t seem to fit into our busy, twenty-first century work schedules. Our society praises those who go, go, go. But is skipping your lunch to finish that spreadsheet effective?
Studies say no.
According to Tork, nearly 90% of North American workers feel refreshed after a lunch break and believe it helps them get back to work. Those who take their lunch breaks are also more likely to be satisfied with their work life.
Overworking yourself will lead to burnout, creating high levels of stress and diminishing your creativity. On the other hand, taking regular breaks throughout your work day will help you release stress, refocus your mind, and boost your creativity.
The value of breaks is recognized beyond the workplace.
We use breaks in theaters (intermission), sports games (half-time), and schools (recess/lunch). The Super Bowl wouldn’t be the same without the half-time show. Not only do viewers need a mental break, but the athletes need time to recuperate and readjust their game plan.
So, next time your lunch rolls around, think of it as your chance to power down. That way, you can get back in the game refreshed, with your head held high, and kill it during the last two quarters.
Wrapping it Up
These 6 tenets of productivity are just a few ways to get more out of your day. If you follow through with them, you’ll significantly improve your work day.
Plan your days, embrace power hours, be a mono-tasker, and use your lunch breaks to eat wisely. Learning how to be productive is half the battle. So finish the race and start doing!