When you are feeling overwhelmed, it is easy to also feel worried, distracted and stressed out to the point that when 5 o’clock rolls around, you didn’t accomplish all that you needed to and are left wondering where the day has gone.
If you find yourself in a never ending cycle of things you need to do, here are my five tips on how to have a more productive day.
1. Eliminate distractions
You know yourself best to understand the things that keep you from wanting to do your work. According to a study on distractions and productivity, 28% off a worker’s day is consumed by distractions which includes everything from being too occupied worrying about other things, to technology and chatty co-workers. Addicted to your Snapchat? Hide your phone until you complete your task(s). Can’t study at home? Find a quite spot where you can be in the zone.
2. Make a to-do list before you start working
You never want to go into a game without a game plan. Research has shown effective time management is based on having a clear vision of your goals. Whether you make a list the evening before to prepare for the following day or right before you want to start getting some work done, first jot down everything you need to do. With something tangible that you can whip out and refer to, making a list will:
- provide structure and order to the craziness so you know where to begin
- help you remember your goals for the day so you won’t procrastinate
- and give you the satisfaction of physically crossing out what you managed to complete
3. When you are ready to start working, determine what is urgent versus what is important
Perhaps you have 10 things you want to accomplish for the day. Out of those 10 things, can you identify what needs to be done right away and the things you can work on later? While all items you need to take care of might be important, they all might not be urgent. Distinguishing between the two will provide a clearer direction on how to best allocate your time and will make your day feel less hectic knowing less urgent tasks can be taken care of later.
4. Dedicate time and stick to it
It is easy to feel scattered brained when you are trying to do too many things at once. So stop. Divide and conquer your tasks into manageable time frames to accomplish more with less invest time. For example if you walk into your office and have 50 unread emails, dedicate one hour of your time to answering, sorting and saving them or answer emails in intervals such as every half hour. Once your time is up, make a note to yourself of what else is left to , (if there is anything else left to do), for that task and then move on to the next.
Allocating time and sticking to it will allow you to accomplish more throughout your day because you’ll be able to focus more intently at the task, with the mind set of trying to complete as much as possible because of the deadlines you set for yourself.
5. Schedule breaks
As much as you want to knock everything off your to-do list, an over worked brain won’t accomplish much if you can’t focus, are feeling irritable and fatigued. If you feel any of these things are starting to creep up on you as you work, step away and take a break. Research has shown that taking scheduled breaks will allow you to return to work even more focused since it gives you a chance to clear your mind, de-stress, and calm down. And when you are not thinking so hard about all the things left to do, taking a break might even spark new ideas as you let go of the stress that is clouding your brain to make move for clarity.
What other tips do you find help you focus? How do you best maximize your time? Share your thoughts below!