Falling victim to an unproductive workday is pretty easy, isn’t it? We all have those days where we go into work, look at the things we need to get done that day, and then realize four hours later that we haven’t accomplished anything. Sometimes that’s due to changes at work, like deadlines, or it’s due to our natural tendency to put off work and do something fun instead (cat videos, anyone?). While you can’t completely eradicate unproductive days from your life, you can minimize the possibility of them. Here are some of the ways to get back on the productivity wagon.
- Make a To-Do List
At the end of each workday, I write down what I need to accomplish the next day so that when I arrive at work each morning, all I have to do is read it while I wait for my coffee to cool. I update the list throughout the day, even if it’s an itty-bitty task. Then I mark off each task as I finish it. Checking off the items on your to-do list helps you to visually see what you need to get done, motivates you finish another item, and gives you a sense of accomplishment.
- Put Away the Phone
Your cell phone is the absolute worst distraction, so put it out of sight - it in your purse, briefcase, in a drawer, or leave it in your car. Keep it on either vibrate or silent, but make sure that it won’t rattle against something if it’s on vibrate. Set a certain time that you can check your phone, like at lunch, and don’t look at it before then.
- Let Your Co-Workers Know You’re Busy
Socializing with your co-workers is incredibly important. However, it shouldn’t impede your productivity. If someone comes to you with something that isn’t urgent, ask them to come back in a certain amount of time. Explain that you need to finish a task and can’t be derailed. If your workplace has some instant messaging, then set your profile to busy so others will know you can’t be bothered.
- Stay Away from Your Email
Don’t leave your work or personal email pulled up on your computer. Seeing emails come in can distract you from your work, so set certain times you’re allowed to read and respond to emails during the day. If it’s not time then don’t look. Make sure to turn off new email notifications on your computer and on your phone or tablet as well.
- Take A Walk
When you start to feel cooped-up or run-down, stand up and walk around. You can take a five-minute stroll around your building or walk a few laps through the office. This short, energetic break will leave you refreshed and will make your body (especially your knees) feel better. When the five minutes are up, get back to business.
- Compete with Yourself
My favorite way to increase productivity is to set up a competition with myself. Instead of just working on something for as long as it takes, I set a specific time that I want to have something done. For example, if I finish a report before lunch, then I can go get sushi from my favorite restaurant, but if I don’t get it done, then I go home to make a sandwich. As an alternative, I see if I can finish a daily task in a shorter amount of time than I did before. However, the important thing with this is to make sure you don’t sacrifice the quality of your work. So be realistic about the deadline you set. Also, make sure you don’t solely reward yourself with food; try using a TV show or new CD as a small reward.
- Leave Your Work at the Office
You might think that it’s a good idea to bring your work home with you so you can get more done. While you will have more time to finish various things, you’ll also burn out. Focus on getting as much done as you can while you’re at work, and then go home to focus on yourself and your family. Working at home during the off hours will most likely leave you feeling tired and overworked during the regular 9-5 grind.