One of the worst feelings is making it to 5 o’clock and not being able to check off as many items on your to-do list as you wanted to.
What’s even worse is clocking out of the office on Friday knowing you didn’t do as much as you needed to for a successful week. Immediately your weekend is ruined as you leave feeling bummed and stressed about how behind you are.
Being productive in the office is a challenge many people face. With life’s everyday distractions, it’s easy to be thrown off track.
Don’t let bad productivity slow you down on your work days. With these 5 tips, you can harness your potential to be a better and more focused leader and increase your productivity in no time.
1. Get your mind right
If you aren’t taking care of yourself, it will start to show in your work. Remember in grade school on the night before a big test when your teacher would give you a list of tips to follow for a better grade? Turns out those are applicable at your job too.
Make sure you’re eating healthy, energizing meals to get your day started. Bad eating habits will leave you feeling lethargic and ruin any chance you had of having a good day. Start by choosing the right breakfast meals to kick off your day. Foods with complex carbs and proteins are great to keep your energy high until lunch time. Also, avoid the convenient, fast food meals at lunch. These foods are generally pretty unhealthy and will make you want to climb in bed.
Speaking of bed, make sure you develop healthy sleeping habits to maximize your energy. Some of the most important components to a good night’s sleep are a consistent routine, a conducive environment for sleep, and a supportive bed.
Did you know the average lifespan of an innerspring mattress is only 7-8 years, even after flipping and rotating it regularly? After this period, the coils lose their structure and your bed begins to sag, making you lose out on the restorative sleep you could have with a more supportive and responsive mattress. You spend almost 1/3 of your life sleeping, so don’t waste it on bad sleep.
If you have trouble sleeping, you can try home remedies like a warm bath or a cup of tea. Exercising regularly will also help you rest better at night. If you try multiple methods but still have difficulties sleeping, consult a doctor to find the best solution for you.
2. Restructure your schedule at work
After working on your personal practices for self-care, start to think about the way you structure your routine at work. Do you create an outline of tasks you need to do for the week? For the day? For the month? At all?
Seeing your goals lined out in front of you will help you track your progress. Clock in on Mondays with a positive attitude for the week and outline your macro-goals that should be completed by the time you clock out on Friday.
These can be specific or more general. For example, your macro-goal may be that you need to acquire a certain number of clients by Friday, or it could be a more personal and general goal of improving your time management by EOD Friday.
After you’ve outlined your macro-goal for the entire week, list out your specific tasks to complete and prioritize them according to urgency and importance. Then, pick your micro-goals for the day. Ta-da! You have an organized to-do list for exactly what you need to accomplish and when.
At the start of each day, write down your micro-goals for the day and assess how they are contributing to your macro-goal for the week. If something shifts, update your list. This will help visualize your progress on a task-by-task basis and you’ll be checking off items on your to-do list faster than ever!
3. Set up a personal time tracking system
Need a reality check about how much time you’re wasting? Start time-tracking.
Before you start your day, write down how long you expect each item on your to-do list to take. If this is a challenge, then divide your task by “morning” and “afternoon” so you know when you expect to complete them.
Then, track your time while you work. This will help in two ways:
- You will stop multitasking and give your undivided attention to one task at a time.
- You will see exactly how you’re spending your time and stop wasting it.
When you can tangibly see that it took you two hours to write a newsletter that should have only taken you 30 minutes, you begin to realize where you are sinking your time.
At the end of each day, evaluate how you spent your time. The more you do this, the easier it will be to get in a routine of dedicating your time to your tasks the way you should without even having to watch the clock.
4. Continue to challenge yourself, but know when to take a break
Once you’re in the groove of goal setting and time tracking, don’t get stuck doing the bare minimum. Each week try to accomplish 5-10% more than you did the last week.
If you’re serious about really improving your productivity, this is the way to do it. Never stop challenging yourself to be a more focused employee. If you want the outputs, you have to keep putting in the inputs.
Of course, it’s important that you know your limits. Know when you need to take breaks in your work and refresh your brain. If you have a few super busy weeks in a row, take time to take care of yourself on the weekends and don’t worry so much about big increases in productivity.
Work hard, play hard, right?
5. Re-evaluate your work environment
It’s vital that you assess your environment to make sure there aren’t any obstacles getting in your way. Are you easily distracted by sound and you play overhead music in your office? Hole up in a quiet conference room or grab some noise-cancelling headphones. Do fluorescent lights irritate you? If these things are bothering you, they’re bothering your employees too.
Oftentimes, the work place is filled with distractions. Identify what it is that throws you off track and find solutions. Some common distractions include:
- A cluttered desk
- Using your phone
- Excessive emails
- Unnecessary meetings
Whether it’s a personal or an office issue, find ways to work towards solutions that can help you and your employees create a space that encourages productivity and focus.
6. Make your systems more efficient
Being productive is all about cutting out unnecessary time sinks and increasing your efficiency. Identify the systems in your office that take you and your employees away from work.
Having your employees clock in and clock out by punching in their time card in your office can cause some major distractions for you – especially for the employee who regularly comes in five minutes late ready to ramble on with excuses. Not to mention, old time tracking systems can be unreliable and inefficient when it comes to tracking employee’s time for the payroll and billing. Save yourself (and your accountant) some hassle when it comes to your time tracking processes and use an easier time clock like OnTheClock.
This will enable your employees to punch in and out via computer, phone or tablet. Don’t worry, the GPS restrictions ensure accuracy when it comes to making sure your employees are actually in office.
By increasing the efficiency of a simple task and avoiding unnecessary employee disruptions, you ensure higher chances for productivity for yourself and your employees.
Author’s bio: Laurie Larson is a freelance writer from Durham, NC. She enjoys writing pieces to motivate others to lead more healthy and productive lifestyles.