I’m often faced with a ‘to do’ list that I’m confident I’m going to achieve by the time 6pm comes around but, then, I discover I’ve only ticked off two items by the end of the day.
Here are four tips to help ensure our days become more productive:
1. Work out HOW you work at your best
I know I work much better if I haven’t been out late the night before. Sounds obvious, but the sheer fact of feeling tired can have a real effect on how effective you are at work.
I also work much better if I’ve been exercising first thing. Because I work from home, I don’t actually have to go out of my flat to start work, but I don’t like to go from bathroom to kitchen to desk without first either going swimming or going to the gym. I no longer have a 50-minute commute, so I spend that time exercising. It really helps get my brain into gear.
For you, it could be ‘when I don’t drink coffee’ or ‘when I take regular small breaks throughout the day’. Whatever it is, make a list of how you work at your best and stick it by your computer as a reminder.
2. Work out WHEN you work at your best
Most if us are either larks or owls. I’m a lark, so working in the evening is not something that’s going to boost my productivity. If you find that you have certain low points during the day when you don’t achieve much, use that time for more mundane tasks that don’t require much brain power. And focus on the important things when you’re at your most alert.
3. Don’t get distracted
The internet – especially emailing and social networking – is a huge distraction that can eat up big chunks of time. So, to increase your productivity, turn off all distractions, including your phone, and focus on the task in hand. I find that working half a day on a Saturday or Sunday, I can achieve almost as much as I can in a whole weekday because no-one’s emailing or phoning me to distract me. I know I can focus 100% on what I’m doing. For example, I’m writing this post on a Sunday.
4. Work out the three most important things you have to complete by the end of the day
Once you’ve worked these out, put them at the top of your ‘to do’ list and prioritise them in order of 1, 2 and 3. Then decide how much time you are going to carve out for each one and work only on these three tasks, starting with the most important one first.
Once you get in the habit of following these four tips, you’ll find yourself enjoying days where you succeed in achieving much more. Here’s to your productivity!