A lot of us get distracted during work, especially when we shouldn’t. Case in point: while writing this article, I took several extended breaks during which I looked up facts about Iceland, browsed Amazon, checked the LEGO store to see if there were any cool new Star Wars sets, and got into a Youtube wormhole watching clips from Mad Men. (The Hershey’s scene gets me every time.) That being said, there are plenty of tips and tricks you can apply to your life to ensure that you’re getting your work done efficiently, leaving more time in your day for more important things, like not working. Try out a few and you’ll be moving into that corner office in no time.
#14. Try The (10+2) x 5 Rule To Maximize Your Productivity
I’m no good at math either (it’s why assembling this list is my job), but this rule is pretty easy to understand, and even easier to adhere. For every ten minutes of unbroken, completely focused work take a two-minute break, then repeat that process five times to make up an entire hour. Ten minutes may seem like a short amount of time, but you’d be surprised how many micro distractions happen during that span. Eventually, you’ll get so used to focused work, you’ll start to willingly skip some of those 2-minute breaks.
#13. Figure Out How To Finish Your Tasks In The Most Efficient, Easiest Way Possible
Essentially, learn how to become productively lazy. It’s a very useful skill that applies to all professions. The three-step rule for folding T-shirts, stapling multiple pages at once, etc. Remember that Domino’s commercial with the guy who could make pizza boxes lightning fast? Become that guy in your profession. It’ll give you more time to goof off and less time stressing overall.
#12. Turn Off Your Smartphone Notifications So You Don’t Keep Looking At Instagram Every 43 Seconds
Smartphones are, well, smart. There are plenty of settings you can fiddle with to make sure that nagging buzz in your pocket (or wrist) isn’t taking you away from what you should be doing. Worried about an emergency? Most smartphones nowadays still alert you if someone calls twice or more in a row, so you’ll still catch anything important. At the very least, disable all those pesky social media notifications. Try checking each platform three times a day instead of every 5 minutes.
#11. Record Everything You Worked On And Review It At The End Of The Week
It’s the perfect way to see whether or not you’re working harder than you realized, or maybe need to step up your game. The best motivator is you!
#10. Set Alarms And Give Yourself Hard Deadlines For The Projects You’re Working On
The longer you work on something, the less attention you actually give it over time. Imagine an exponentially decreasing curve, and you’ve pretty much got it down. Find that timer on your phone or computer and set it for an appropriate amount of time. Give it your all and, once the alarm goes off, move on to the next thing, whether you’ve finished or not. Come back to it for Round Two after you’ve tackled a different task or two. Your brain needs new things to work on, or it’ll burn out a lot faster.
#9. Anything You Can Do Today Instead Of Tomorrow, Go Ahead And Do Those Things Today
Our parents and grandparents always said, “why do tomorrow what you can do today?” Turns out, they were kinda on to something. Take five or ten minutes at the end of your shift to bang out that extra email or quick task. Even if it’s just straightening up your desk. At night, maybe pick out tomorrow’s clothes and prep your breakfast or lunch. It’ll allow for a less stressful start to your day, meaning a more productive you.
#8. Never Begin Your Day By Diving Into Your Unread Emails
We’ve all done it. You sit down at your desk and immediately move your cursor to Outlook or Gmail. Stop. Most people consider their emails to be way more urgent than they actually are. Instead of spending 9 – 10 am scrolling through emails, save that for your post-lunch slump around 1 or 2pm. You are at your most productive in the morning, so use that time to seize the day. If you can’t hold off checking emails, check ’em in chunks.
#7. Spend Just 10 Minutes In The Morning To Stretch Or Work Out
When I wake up, I like to lay in my bed, idly checking Twitter and Instagram until I do the math and realize, “oh boy, I needed to have been out of bed seven minutes ago.” If you’re like me, spend that extra morning time doing some quick stretches, yoga, or even a light jog or run. Follow it up with a shower and you’ll end up super attentive for the morning. You might even be able to forego that cup of joe, saving money.
#6. If You Listen To Music, Avoid Songs With Words In Them
Mouthing along to Cardi B is using up more energy than you probably expect. Instead, try listening to classical music or scores from your favorite movies. Filling out that expense report set to the tune of Indiana Jones is going to help you finish it a lot quicker and make some real “money moves.” (That was a return to the Cardi B reference from earlier, I’m sorry.)
#5. Stop Going To All Meetings You Don’t Have To Be In
Do you have to be going to that one meeting that really doesn’t involve you? Chances are, you don’t. Be frank with your boss and see if spending your time actually on work and not listening to Chad and his stupid monologues is something they can facilitate. If you’re the one leading meetings, cut down on the number of people invited and give presenters less time to talk.
#4. Create Templates To Automate Or Completely Bypass Your Tasks
If you’ve got a menial task in your day, look into ways to automate it. Do you need to put together a report of data and send it out each week? Chances are, there’s a way to make that happen automatically, making you look like a hero. Templates are also good for tasks that are repeated a lot. The fewer steps you need to do over and over, the more time you’ll save overall.
#3. When You’re Tempted To Reach For Your 3rd (OK, Fine, 5th) Cup Of Coffee, Sniff On Some Essential Oils Or Chew Some Gum (Or Both.)
When it’s late in the day and you need that extra kick, try getting a whiff of some peppermint essential oils, or chewing on some gum. It’ll get you through that 1:45 pm slump.
#2. Tell Yourself That Each Of Your Tasks Is A Do-Or-Die Situation That Must Be Completed In Time
Fear is actually a pretty great motivator. Convince yourself that if a project isn’t done on time, you’ll be fired. Or, remove the promise of a reward if you don’t get your business finished. Just like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, work against that ticking clock and you’ll probably succeed faster than you were expecting. Hooray!
#1. Walk Out Of Your Office And Bring Your Workspace Into The Great Outdoors
If you work from home or an environment that will allow it, head outside. Nice weather and a change of scenery can do wonders for your mental health and your focus. If you can combine that nice patio view with a glass of chardonnay, why not? It’s Friday and you deserve it.