- First, know how you’re spending your time – What do you do with your time? The first step toward a more productive day is to determine where your time is currently going. For the next week, keep track of everything you do during your working hours. Every time you switch tasks, write it down.
- Rise and shine with a solid routine – Though not everyone is wired to be a morning person, having a refreshing morning ritual and then tackling the most important tasks first is an easy-to-implement strategy. Some people start their days with meditation, yoga, or a relaxing shower with their favorite music, followed by a nutritious breakfast.
- Do one thing at a time – You may be under the impression that multitasking is a good way to get more done. However, science says just the opposite. While most people have no trouble walking and talking or eating and reading at the same time, multitasking two or more similar tasks—like talking and reading, something many of us try to do while answering emails—use similar cognitive functions and trying to do them at the same time will actually take longer.
- We don’t need science to tell us that working on something for a long period of time results in fatigue: Focus suffers and we become more easily distracted. When it is time to step away from your work, stand up and take a short walk before returning to the task at hand. Walking can not only improve your focus once you return, it can also help give your creativity and problem-solving abilities a boost.
- Efficiency means focusing on the task at hand, and focus requires minimal interruptions. Start by taking control of notifications; turn off all but the most important ones. Use the built-in functions on your phone and computer to filter out unnecessary noise, and put a “Do not disturb” sign on the door.
- Start scheduling your to-do list with blocks of time, arranged in priority sequence with a calendar app. Google Calendar is a great free option and will easily sync with most calendar apps on mobile devices. Allow desktop or mobile notifications so you are made aware of when it is time to start the next task.
- Being responsible for your own time and schedule is a perfect breeding ground for procrastination, and time can run away from you. You can, however, set up an accountability partner of your own to help you reach your goals and put these productivity techniques into play.
Productivity is just like any other skill—with practice and perseverance, you can have more control over your time. The added work it takes to learn how to get there will be paid back countless times with less stress, more time for leisure, and more quality work that will be noticed by your colleagues and clients.