Most of us aren’t as productive at work as we would like to be – so many distractions, and to make things worse it’s almost spring across most of the country. Most people want to be productive at work but it isn’t always easy. It’s so easy to get side tracked, whether you are working at home at the dining room table thinking about all the house chores that need to get done or back in an office setting with chatty co-workers. It’s true that most people want to be productive at work and replace their bad habits with good ones, however, it isn’t an easy thing to do. Here are some tips that just might help you increase your productivity at work:

  1. Prepare A To-Do List

Whether it’s planning ahead for the next day, week or month preparing a to-do list will help to increase your productivity. As you lay your head down to rest, having a prepared to-do list for the next day will definitely improve your activity at work. Having everything organized and planned out, and knowing exactly what you need to get done the next day will make it easier to tackle your tasks. Plus, it feels really good to check completed items off your list!

  1. Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is very important if you want to improve your productivity at work. We all know what if feels like when you don’t get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is known to have negative effects on performance, as well as our health. Not getting enough sleep? You might start to see a decrease in concentrating ability, memory, logical reasoning, and mathematical capacity. The prefrontal cortex of the human brain, which is involved in motor activity, especially in logical and complex reason tasks, is vulnerable to lack of sleep and it can seriously hamper your productivity at work. If you’re not getting enough sleep, consider a 15-minute “power nap”!

  1. Don’t Skip Work Breaks

Don’t skip breaks during the workday. When you take a break you get a few moments to yourself. It’s just like recharging a battery. Grabbing a snack or taking a quick walk around the neighborhood is beneficial for both your physical and mental health. Nobody is going to judge you if you step away from your desk for 15 minutes. In fact, sitting for long periods of time isn’t good for you. Your brain is just like any other part of your body. It can only go for so long before getting tired. And it’s makes it much harder to be productive.

  1. Tackle The Hardest Tasks Early

Tackling the hardest tasks early in the day can significantly improve your productivity. The early part of the day, for most people, is when your brain is the freshest and you can tackle any tasks at work. Once you are done with the difficult tasks, the whole day seems easy and more manageable. Successful business people from all over the world have made it a habit of tackling the most difficult tasks of the day first, leaving the rest of the day for the easier projects. Don’t put off the harder, bigger tasks until later in the day – you will be so much more productive!

  1. Prioritize Tasks

If you want to be productive then learn to prioritizing tasks, focusing on tasks, and things that will produce noticeable results. Don’t spend a lot of time on non-essential tasks that don’t produce any noticeable results. To improve your productivity, focus on things that matter. For example, if you are on deadline for a large project, get it done before you answer the 100 emails or text messages from the day before!

  1. Avoid Multi-tasking

Some people believe that they are efficient and productive when they multi-task, but studies have shown that people who are ‘multi-taskers’ are less efficient. Our brains have difficulty switching between unrelated tasks and when we try to do so we are never fully focused on any single task, making us vulnerable to making errors. Multi-tasking just doesn’t work. As confident as we are thinking we can successfully multi-task, research shows the opposite! Studies show that multi-tasking actually reduces efficiency and performance and can even lower your IQ. So let’s not kid ourselves. To paraphrase an old saying: you’re not multi-tasking, you’re just doing multiple things badly. Break down your projects into smaller tasks and give them your full attention – it’s the best way to get your work done faster, and better.

  1. Remove all distractions

We live in the digital era, and while that gives us amazing opportunities,  it can on be the cause of great distraction. There’s always something going on in the news or social media feeds. This is especially challenging if you’re working from home and don’t have a boss to hold you accountable. Eliminate distractions as best you can.

  • Your phone

Obviously turning off your notifications on your phone or leaving your personal email unattended during working hours can make a world of difference.

  • Your tabs and apps

Close down any apps not in use and try and keep open windows and tabs to a minimum.

  • Your colleagues

We all have that one friend at work who we love working with, but who always tries to engage you in conversation when you’re trying to concentrate. Try using headphones!

  1. Block out time in your calendar

The key to productivity is good time management. You simply can’t have one without the other. While you have to be able to respond to little fires that need to be put out throughout the day, you also need to block out the time you need to get the most important tasks done on time. It’s much harder to manage your time on the fly. Your time is precious. It’s the one thing you can never get back.

  1. Get tasks done in batches

Do you ever have a task or project that seems so intimidating that you just don’t know where to begin? What do you do when you’re faced with pressing and important, yet slightly terrifying workloads?

  • Break tasks down into 90-minute chunks

Our brains are natural sprinters, not marathon runners. Peak productivity can only last for so long. Break big tasks down into smaller increments that can be accomplished in 90 minutes or less. This will allow you to get into a groove and give your brain time to rest.

  • Use the “2 minute rule” to eliminate smaller tasks

A commonly used tip from those who procrastinate is to revert to smaller tasks when the big things seem too overwhelming. These little tasks will end up taking disproportionately longer. So consider taking a few minutes at the beginning of each day with your to do list. If there is a task you can get done in 2 minutes or less, go for it.

A clutter-free mind is a more productive mind.

Baby Steps

It’s hard to change habits — even if you know it’s the right thing to do. According to psychologists, while it may take approximately 21 days of conscious and consistent effort to create a new habit, it takes far longer to break an existing habit. Try adding these tips to your workdays. Figure out what works best for you. Some might seem uncomfortable or awkward at first, but they’ll soon become second nature. Before long you’ll be enjoying less stressful and more productive workdays. If you find yourself overwhelmed, it may be time to consider a virtual executive assistant. Call Ann Albrecht Consulting today for a no-cost consultation.