At work, we’re often told that time is critical. Your to-do list is chock-full of tasks, but you’ve barely made a start on them. Even though every minute matters and deadlines loom, we still seem to make room for a spot of procrastination.
Whether it’s the urge to check social media or a chinwag with your colleagues about that new Netflix series, it’s the devil on our shoulder that’s there to distract us. All well and good, but putting off work will only make things worse in the long run.
And while we appreciate the irony that you might be reading this at work, we’ll let you off this time, because we’re sharing some useful information that might help you be more productive at work and reduce the bad habits around the office that you may have fallen into.
- Take regular breaks
- Follow the “two-minute rule”
- Stop with the multi-tasking
- Turn off notifications, get rid of distractions
- Watch what you’re eating
- Set micro-goals
- Carry out big tasks when you’re alert
We know this one might sound a bit counterintuitive since we want you to be more productive, but hear us out. If your concentration is starting to dip, then taking scheduled breaks might help.
Breaking up long tasks with short breathers helps you maintain performance. If you’re grinding away for hours, then chances are your focus and dedication to the task will begin declining. So, go make that cup of coffee, clear your head with a brisk stroll or check your phone – we’re allowing it this time.
Take a look at your to-do list (if you don’t have one, you should definitely make one). Is there anything on there you could complete in two minutes? If you said yes, then congratulations – you just followed the ‘two-minute rule’.
Entrepreneur Steve Olenski contends that the rule means that the completion of these small tasks takes less time than getting back to them later, so it’s worth striking off a few tiny to-dos before you focus on the big stuff.
You might think that being able to juggle several different tasks at once is a show of shrewd workday acumen, but perhaps it’s time to think again. After all, anyone can get saddled with tons of work but if none of that work is getting completed, or if distractions and carelessness begin to creep in, that’s when problems build and the work piles up.
Really, taking on too many tasks at the same time is just poor time management. It’s far better to focus on one thing before moving onto the next. Taking your time and finishing each task first might show less dynamism but it’s better than sloppily completing several tasks together, and having to re-do them later down the line.
The bane of many a working day, the temptation to check your Facebook, tweet something out or just generally see what others should be getting up to instead of working always lures you away from getting stuff done.
If you find yourself being distracted by things like this, then turn off any social media or personal emails notifications. Better yet, find a web page blocker to truly nip any cheeky social media peaks in the bud. That way you won’t be tempted to see if anyone’s commented on your latest cat picture you surreptitiously posted while no one was looking. If it’s work emails that are drawing your attention away from work, then block out a set time during the day to catch up and answer any emails you’ve received lately.
That big heavy lunch might’ve seemed like a great idea at the time, but now you’ve crashed. You’re sluggish, unmotivated, and unfocused. Not what you need when the work’s piled up, and deadlines are on the horizon.
Try snacking on foods rich in protein, fibre and anti-oxidants so you don’t feel the need to gorge on those slump-inducing lunches. Things like granola and berries fill you up, so ditch the sugary drinks and fatty foods if you want to maintain performance and productivity throughout the day.
If there are any upcoming projects or tasks on your to-do list that seem daunting or overwhelming, then procrastination is sure to kick in. Instead of looking at these as one big task that you’ll struggle to finish, break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Not only does it make bigger projects seem less daunting, it’ll give you more control over your productivity, putting you on the right track to finishing the project as a whole.
Putting off the big tasks for later is always tempting, but by the time we get to them, we’re often too tired from the day’s work to accomplish them properly. That means sloppy work that could go on for a number of days, as we valiantly – but half-heartedly – soldier through a mammoth undertaking.
If you can identify when you’re working at your best, then aim to get these larger challenges done in that time period. Perhaps you’re most alert in the morning, or you’re ready to attack a task straight after lunch. Whatever time works best for you, tackle the tasks that need the most work when you’re in the best frame of mind.
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