Staying focused while on the job is a challenge for many workers. Distractions are many and varied. Here are some helpful tips for having a successful and productive workday.
Things to Do
Define Your Goals
Having a plan in mind helps you to know how to get started, where to go, and where you want to end up. Consider setting goals for the year, the quarter, the month, the week, and/or the day—try a few time spans to see what works best for you. Your goals are your to-do list for whichever period of time they cover.
Manage Your Workload
There are a number of strategies for good task management. A couple of our favorites are:
- Do dreaded tasks first. It’s a nice feeling of relief to get the worst out of the way first. Plus, that way you eliminate a source of anxiety early on in the day.
- Group like tasks together. You’ll likely accomplish tasks more easily and efficiently if you focus on one subject or area, rather than jumping around.
Organize Your Day Well
This will likely look different for each individual person, but here are some tips to inspire you:
- Know when you’re most productive, and plan accordingly. Are you a morning person? Or an evening person? Do you feel a slump after lunch? Or are you energized after eating?
- Rather than visiting your inbox each time a new email appears, schedule a specific time or times for checking email into your day.
- Take a break! If you’re feeling scatterbrained or weary, rather than suffering through, consider pressing pause for a few minutes. Get up, walk around, fetch a drink or a snack, or have a conversation with a co-worker. Spending a few minutes away from your desk is a great way to refresh and reset.
Employ Helpful Technologies
Get yourself organized using an online calendar and/or to-do list. Take advantage of any automation features it offers, such as setting up recurring tasks or meetings. Consider acquiring a second monitor in order to increase the size of your workspace and do less switching between computer windows.
Listen to Music
Music is a fantastic tool for helping you to stay focused and productive. It might take some trial and error to figure out what style of music is best for you (some people like classical, some prefer something electronic). It might sound odd but consider giving video game music a try—it’s designed to keep the listener relaxed and focused on the task at hand. One thing to avoid is music with lyrics, as this can easily become a distraction.
Things to Avoid
Now that we’ve covered the “do’s,” let’s take a quick look at some things to avoid:
Spending Time on Your Cell Phone
Phones are a big source of distraction and productivity loss. While it’s not realistic to disconnect entirely, consider shutting off notifications that aren’t relevant to your work during the day. Perhaps making checking your phone something you do only during a quick break.
Having Long, Non-Work Related Conversations with Co-Workers
“Water cooler talk” isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but sometimes it can take up much more time than you think. Simply being aware of this can help you curb the time you spend chatting. If you’re having an issue with people stopping by your desk to talk or simply distracting you by conversing nearby, consider closing your door while you’re working (if you have one) or putting in headphones.
When it comes to workplace productivity, a big part of the solution is simply knowing yourself and figuring out what works best for you, personally. Give some of these tips a try today and see if you can make productivity happen!