The summer months tend to offer a great opportunity for companies and individuals to reflect on their own practices and examine how they can improve operations for the second half of the year.
Over the past couple of weeks, a topic that has come up again and again is TIME and how we can use our time more efficiently and effectively in the working day. Bare in mind, the working day is not necessarily 9-5 anymore, so the challenge is making sure that we use the working hours we have been assigned with to be productive, thus not bringing work home with us and ultimately burning out!
In this blog, I’m going to share with you some of the tasks that I try to apply to my working day to ensure that as little time as possible is wasted and that I finish on a Friday thinking “Now that was a good weeks work”. Who’s with me? Of course, you may have heard of these suggestions before. In fact, most likely you have and you’re implementing them yourself as I write this, but there is no harm in checking in with yourself to evaluate where you stand with them.
Write a To Do List
In the morning, my first point of call when I get into the office is to put the kettle on. Yes, I must admit that I am addicted to tea but it’s a ritual that works for me and helps to get me focussed on the day. What works for you?
While the kettle is boiling, I pull out my notepad and write down a series of tasks that I wish to complete before the day is out, prioritising the most important/urgent items first.
Having a to do list calms me and keeps me focussed on what I’ve set out to achieve for the day. I refer back to it as the day goes on and it provides me with a mental boost when I’m able to cross off a series of tasks.
By the way, I may not get through everything but that is OK. I’ve prioritised the most important tasks and the others can move over to tomorrows to do list.
Remove the Anchors
As well as prioritising certain items on the to do list, there may also be things that won’t take as long but you just put them off because they are not particularly favourable. Have you done this? Well, I like to call these items my anchors. They are what clogs up the brain and slows me down on my other tasks. Therefore, I try to get them out of the way first so that my brain is clear for more exciting tasks through the day.
Free Yourself From Distractions
Do you find yourself seeing emails coming through on your laptop and jumping away from your current agenda to see what it says? Or do you have the phone pinging in the corner and you just can’t help but check it a 1000 times per day (slight exaggeration perhaps), these little activities may not seem like they are taking up a lot of your time but they are sucking it up and hampering your productivity.
My advice, try and pick points in the day where you tackle your emails. When you’re not in that time space, turn the emails off and focus on your task at hand. Likewise, with your phone, “Do Not Disturb” is a fantastic feature which does what it says on the tin.
Keep a Clean Working Environment
I was talking to a client recently and we were just saying how an untidy desk can really affect your productivity during the working day. It’s hard to find things and psychologically it is another clog in the brain. On Friday afternoons, I like to take some time before I finish up to go through any paper work on the desk and file it away so that on my return, I’ve a clean canvas to work from. It also allows me to reflect on the items that I’ve worked on that week which I find is a nice way to wind down before the weekend.
Take Regular Breaks
It’s not a bad thing to take breaks. Whether it’s ten minutes to make some tea and catch up with colleagues, or to read the latest news items online. It’s important as we finish one task to draw a line under that, take a breather and then move onto the next with a fresh head.
A hugely important aspect to a productive day is having a well-balanced diet filled with nuts, fruits and wholesome lunches where you can ensure that your energy levels are being maintained. In addition, (and something that I’m struggling with) is to cut down on the amount of caffeine being drunk on a daily basis and replace it with a bottle of water or green tea.
I hope that these pointers have helped. You may be thinking, I wouldn’t have time to do all this, but give them a go! They are simple tasks that should make a real difference.
If there is anything else that you have tried and feel works well for your working day, please share them below.