Simplifying your work day can have a significant impact on your productivity. By making just a few small adjustments to your routine, you can accomplish more and achieve greater job satisfaction.
The fewer distractions you have in your work life, the more you can focus on the tasks ahead of you. If you have some control over your schedule, consider taking these proactive steps and enjoy the benefits of a less complicated work day.
- Get to work early
By getting to work early every day, you can achieve more because there a fewer interruptions to disturb you. Before your colleagues arrive, the meetings start and the emails stream in, start your work day in peace. You’ll be amazed at what you can tick off your checklist without too much effort.
- Start your day right
It may seem trivial but enjoying a cup of tea first thing in the morning before you tackle that mountain of emails will help to set the tone for a more pleasant day. For the first 15 minutes of your morning, do nothing but enjoy a warm cup of tea.
- Clear your desk
Before you start that major project you’ve been dreading, make sure that your work surface is conducive to productivity. By clearing the dirty mugs and paper scraps off your desk, you give your brain a chance to focus on the work, rather than on other pointless distractions. If there is anything on your desk that is not being used to complete the project, pack it away. Make quick decisions and then get started.
Write a list of all the things you need to do and then make a shorter list of no more than 3-5 of the most important tasks. A shorter list ensures that you don’t feel overwhelmed and end up procrastinating. Choose so that, if you manage to complete just the tasks on your short list, you will be happy with what you achieved.
- Set limits
There’s a misconception that the more hours you spend hanging over your desk, the more productive you are. You’ll probably find that you are more effective if you set a limit on the number of hours you can work a day, such as six or seven. By cutting back on an hour or two, you are forced to be more effective because you need to get the most important tasks done in a shorter period of time.
- Give yourself one hour (only) for emails
Obviously this rule depends on the nature of your work but email is probably the biggest thief of time, with Facebook being a close second. Give yourself a limited time slot to check and respond to emails, keeping your replies short and concise. You’ll be surprised at how much more you can accomplish.
- Allocate time for distractions
You read correctly. If you find your mind wanders to watching YouTube videos or reading blogs or browsing Pinterest, allocate a time towards the end of your day where you can do this. Alternatively, give yourself 10 minutes at the end of each hour. This way, you can focus on your work but still have some time to relax before moving on to the next task. A little relaxation time will prevent you from burning out.
- Learn to say “no”
Working in an office environment usually means that at some point, a colleague or supervisor will need to interrupt you for something. Learn to say “no” as politely as you can, explain that you need to finish the work you are busy with and that you will be more than happy to assist them when you are done.
- Avoid meetings
Another major time-stealer is the office meeting. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a two hour meeting that has very little to do with you. So if you can avoid meetings and find an alternative way to communicate, it could save you hours per week.
- Take a breather
If you find that your concentration is waning, take a short break for 15-20 minutes. Get up from your desk, take a walk and get some fresh air. A little time away from your desk will help you to focus when you return. Alternatively, take your laptop and get out of the office completely. A change of scenery can do wonders to refocus your mind and gain fresh inspiration. The more often you can do this, the better for your general well-being.
It may be difficult to implement all of these changes at once, so start with one or two and see what works best for you. You will find that you can alter your work day positively in the long run.