We have all felt overwhelmed or stressed out at some point during the work year. Times where you just can’t seem to make a dent in that to do list and having lunch at your desk is the new norm. Well it would please you to know that people who manage to get a lot accomplished each day aren’t superhuman; they’ve just mastered a few simple habits.
Here are 8 ways to squeeze a little more out of every day:
1. TIDY WORKSPACE:
People with neat workspaces are more persistent and less frustrated and weary, according to a recent study in Harvard Business Review, which found that a clean desk helps you stick with a task more than one and a half times longer. “While it can be comforting to relax in your mess, a disorganized environment can be a real obstacle,” says Grace Chae, a professor at Fox School of Business at Temple University and coauthor of the study. Clean desk, clean mind.
2. TRACK YOUR TIME:
There are only so many hours in the day and if you ever have ever found yourself saying “I don’t know where the day goes” then a time tracking tool could be for you. We all know that time is money and while no-one enjoys filling out timesheets, setting a timer for your tasks can help your productivity immensely.
We don’t like punching the clock, but there is something about knowing we are on it that makes you work more efficiently. Using a time tracking tool like https://toggl.com/ is a simple way to track the time it takes to complete various tasks. Toggl also lets you look at reports and see how much time you spent on different projects giving you visibility on where your time is going and where the distractions are.
3. THE 2-MINUTE RULE:
This little rule is very easy to implement and even more effective in practice; if it takes two minutes or less to accomplish a task, do it now. If it takes longer than two minutes schedule to do it later and put it away. Most of the tasks we are faced with day to day aren’t difficult to do, we just don’t love doing them and avoid getting started.
The 2-minute rule overcomes procrastination and laziness by forcing you to get started on tasks. Sticking to this rule you will find yourself cutting through the tasks you would usually be putting off.
4. MAKE LISTS
Get out the pen and paper and make lists great again. Despite all the awesome tools and apps that are available today, there is something timeless about writing out a good list. Using pen and paper can help you concentrate, improve your memory of whatever you’re writing and give you visibility of what work you need to complete. The physical aspect of handwriting a task list (and crossing out those to-dos) can be quite satisfying and motivating when you look at the red pen and what you have accomplished.
For those of us in paperless offices or that need everything digitised, Wunderlist is a great list making app https://www.wunderlist.com/
5. GET ENOUGH SLEEP:
We never feel like we get enough sleep. If we just came out of hibernation, we would still wake up and try to hit the snooze button. However, you should be getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If you aren’t, you’re going to suffer the following day with your cognitive function diminished. So, no more binge-watching Netflix on a school night.
It’s not surprising that getting more done starts with a good night’s sleep, but it turns out getting too many hours is as bad as too few. Analysing the sleep and work habits of 3,760 people over seven years, researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health found that under-sleepers and over sleepers were both more likely to take extra sick days.
6. EXERCISE REGULARLY
You don’t have to order 5KGS of whey protein or hit the gym like Arnie but regular exercise has countless benefits for your life inside and outside of work. Even doing some low intensity exercises during the day like going for a walk at lunch time or stretching at your desk work just as well.
You’ll get a short-term boost from the adrenaline, and you’ll feel better mentally and emotionally from the endorphin release. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and gives you more energy to be able to focus longer. Your brain is your single greatest asset and your primary tool at work so you need it to be firing on all cylinders.
7. MEDITATE ONCE A WEEK
Regular mindfulness meditation will help you reduce your stress load, improve your cognitive functions and boost your mood. Practising gratitude and appreciation on a weekly basis helps put things into perspective. When you are able to visualise the big picture you’ll find it much easier to avoid sweating the small stuff and carrying negativity into work.
Mediation is not only great for changing your mindset but it also serves as an opportunity to slow down, take a timeout and recharge the batteries. While it can be hard for most of us to sit still for more than a few minutes it is also just as hard to find a spare few minutes in our busy work lives – mediation is truly a worthwhile exercise that can improve productivity and well being.
8. BE REALISTIC
Structuring your day into time blocks and writing lists are great ways to go into a new day feeling confident and on top. However, being unrealistic about how long it will take you to finish your task list or assuming everything will go to plan will have the opposite effect and demotivate you when your list grows not shrinks. If you give yourself plenty of time to get tasks done, take regular breaks and allow time to handle those adhoc tasks that pop up to derail your day you will find yourself to be much more productive and motivated.
The key to productivity is creating small habits that eventually become a part of your day to day. Use the 2-minute rule to get started and practice one or more of the above tips to stay on top of your game every day.