In the fast-paced, technology-driven world we live in, it can be hard to stay focused and be at our most productive. The number of tasks to be done in one day can often seem overwhelming and sometimes, you’re ready to give up before you’ve even begun. But fear not! We’re here to help. Unfortunately, you can’t control the number of hours in a day, but what you can control, is how to increase your productivity during these hours. To help get you started, we’ve made a list of our top 5 methods for making sure you stay on top of your game and kick ass during your work day.
1. Create Goals
Start your morning by creating a list of what needs to be accomplished before the end of your day – it’s more useful than you think! Instead of diving head first into the various tasks you need to do, making a list will clarify what is most important and what can be put on hold for a bit longer. It will also clear your mind, making you more focused and able to concentrate. Try starting your day with the hardest or most important tasks – doing these first not only gets them out of the way and off your mind, but makes completing the smaller tasks a lot easier. Don’t like the old-school pen and paper method? Try downloading one of these apps for your phone or desktop:
This application enables you to organise and prioritise your work and projects in a more efficient way. It also allows for collaboration, so everyone involved in the project can alter or add their own details.
Momentum creates a personal dashboard, “designed to eliminate distraction and provide inspiration, focus, and productivity”. Say goodbye to plain and boring internet tabs and hello to daily motivational quotes and inspiring pictures. This extension from Google Chrome even features a to-do list, that stays with you on every new tab.
2. Stop Multi-tasking
You may think you’re amazing at juggling all of your tasks at the same time, however, a study by Microsoft Research has shown that interruptions of tasks are one of the most frequently cited reasons for prospective memory failures during the work day. It also noted that it takes the brain 15 minutes to re-focus after switching your attention to something else! A classic proven technique for focusing on one thing at a time, is the Pomodoro Technique. For this approach, choose a task to complete, set a timer for 25 minutes and work on this one task without any interruptions. Once the timer rings, take a 5-minute break – be it grabbing a coffee, going for a walk or even just staring out of the window. Then repeat. Many apps have since come on the market that utilise this technique, making it even easier to do. The best 2 that we recommend are:
– Focus List
This simple daily planner app allows you to plan your day and keep track of time. Simply write your day’s Focus List and choose to adopt the Pomodoro time technique, or set your own times. The app also comes with a tracker, to show you stats of how well you performed.
Forest is a great Pomodoro technique app. It uses the concept of planting a tree, which will grow during the time it takes you to complete your task. There’s also settings to create a blacklist of websites that you’re not allowed to visit during the 25 minutes. Get distracted by Facebook too often? Add it to the blacklist and the app will prevent the web page from opening. The even greater thing, is that Forest plants real trees when members use the app and stay focused.
3. Close the social media tabs
Yes, we know it’s tempting to procrastinate by checking the latest BuzzFeed articles, but it’s not helping you achieve your goals. The constant notifications are a distraction and those odd minutes of scrolling quickly rack up. It’s been estimated that the average person spends nearly 2 hours a day on social media, which translates to a total of 5 years (!!) over a lifetime. Think of how many more items you could tick off your list in that time! If you need to use social media for work purposes, make sure to log out of your personal accounts, so not to get side-tracked. And if you want to see exactly how much time you are spending, be it on social media or another distraction, Rescue Time runs in the background to track your computer habits and leaves you with a detailed report based on your activity
4. Take advantage of your daily commute
Whenever you find yourself with a pocket of time, use it to your advantage. Instead of checking Facebook or thinking about what to cook for dinner, get ahead of your emails, create your to-do list, or do some brainstorming. This way, your mind stays active in a useful way and it also gives you a head start. Try using Google Tasks for the brainwave ideas that enter your head whilst out and about. It syncs with Gmail, Google Calendar and the Google mobile app, making it easy to stay on top of thoughts and ideas whilst on-the-go.
5. Wake up an hour earlier
Most of us aren’t, and probably never will be, morning people. But some people believe that waking up an hour earlier than usual will allow your mind enough time to mentally prepare for the day ahead. Even in the evenings after work, our minds are still racing with thoughts and it can sometimes be difficult to switch off. Waking up that bit earlier guarantees you get some quality you time before starting your day. However, if this really is too much to handle, why not consider starting a wind-down routine, such as going for an evening walk, reading or watching an episode of your favourite tv show. Meditation is a proven way of calming the body and mind as well as making subtle improvements in focus, attention and the ability to ignore distractions. A great app for guided meditation sessions for beginners, is Headspace. With daily sessions and exercises to follow, the app teaches you the basics to help get you started.
There are many more tips and tricks to be found, but even implementing just one of these 5 into your daily routine, will help you become more productive and more efficient in the workplace.