Nowadays, many of us work in fast-paced environments where we often feel like we can’t stop for even a minute, or else we will be eternally behind with work. There’s a lot of pressure to constantly be productive and not waste any time while on the clock. However, ineffective multitasking, unintentional procrastination, or simply a lack of organization could be causing more problems.
We can all agree that it’s hard enough to stay focused on a normal day, let alone when the universe seems to be conspiring against you. So, instead of forcing yourself to work without stopping when nothing goes right, you should try to adopt conscious strategies that will help you be productive and finish the day on a positive note. These strategies will not only get you through your bad days but in the long run, they’ll allow you to work in a more efficient manner.
1. Improve your workspace
You might think it’s harmless when it comes to your productivity, but the truth is that a messy, cluttered workspace is detrimental to your ability to focus. When you’re surrounded by clutter, your stress levels increase and you become more irritable. No wonder, since the physical clutter also creates mental clutter in your brain.
While you’re trying to focus your attention on your work, your brain has to constantly fight these visual distractions, which simply tires it out. In a messy environment, you also have to spend a lot of time looking for the thing you need, which is a massive time waster. Searching through piles of paper and not being able to find the one you’re looking for will only add insult to injury, so it’s clear that banishing clutter from your desk is a must.
2. Add some greenery
A clean and nice-looking workspace will boost your morale but beware of adding decorations that might distract you instead. Consider adding a potted plant to your office if you don’t have any greenery around you. While you might think it’s merely an aesthetic addition, being surrounded by nature actually lowers stress and help you focus.
In fact, according to psychologists, plants in an office environment can boost the productivity of employees by as much as 15%. So, if you don’t have a window that overlooks a green landscape, try to improve your environment with a plant or two and it will improve your mood.
3. Take regular breaks
Believing that the more hours you put in, the more work you’ll get done makes sense in theory but, unfortunately, the reality can be very different. Working without stopping might seem productive at the time, however, you’ll soon feel drained and take twice as long to complete tasks.
Research has shown that it’s much more productive to take regular, scheduled breaks than to push through with long tasks. Taking a short break can regenerate your motivation and help you focus better. It also helps steer clear of mental exhaustion, which allows you to go back to your task refreshed. There’s also a phenomenon called “decision fatigue” which can occur if you work without breaks. All in all, your reasoning and decision-making abilities are better if you take regular breaks, so if your work involves a lot of decision-making, this is crucial.
4. Stay in motion
Not only are breaks extremely important for staying productive, but the type of break you take is crucial to its effectiveness. Taking a break by staying in your chair won’t have the desired outcome. In addition, sitting for too long carries many health risks that you can easily steer clear of, if only you stood up. Even if you don’t introduce full-fledged workout breaks to your workday (although, you are recommended to introduce a quick exercise session to your mornings to boost your energy), just standing up, walking around and getting away from your office for a short time can do wonders.
It’s recommended that you change your working position throughout the workday, alternating between sitting and standing up to avoid fatigue and health risks. But even if all you do is stand up to get yourself a glass of water, it’s still better than nothing.
5. Eat healthy snacks
Besides keeping hydrated, you also need to think about keeping your energy levels stable throughout the day. It’s impossible to stay productive when your body doesn’t get the fuel it needs to function at its best. So, skipping meals isn’t really an option if you don’t want to aggravate your bad day.
However, not all food is created equal. Junk food, although it’s more accessible, only gives you bursts of energy, followed by energy crashes. On the other hand, healthy snacks will keep your energy high for a long time.
6. Stay organized
You can’t expect to be productive at work if you don’t even know where to start. Not being organized is an easy way to start procrastinating and you’ll find yourself working on less important tasks.
However, if you lay out all the tasks you need to get done throughout the day, you’ll be able to set your priorities straight and organize the tasks into a manageable order.
When you’re not having a great day, it’s important to at least get the most important tasks done and the rest can wait. The best way to tackle this is to write a to-do list. Every day, before you leave work, prepare the list of tasks you need to tackle the following day, and you’ll be able to approach them more efficiently in the morning.
7. Learn to manage your time
Learning to be organized also means learning to manage your time. You should start by timing how long certain tasks take you and adjusting your schedule and to-do list accordingly. In order to be time-efficient, you need to forget about multitasking.
Effective multitasking is simply impossible, will actually slow you down and make you more prone to mistakes. It’s better to devote time to each task individually, and if you organize your time well, that isn’t going to cause a problem.
9. Keep yourself motivated
It might be difficult to be motivated if you’re having a bad workday. Give yourself small motivational boosts by rewarding yourself when you complete the tasks that you’ve been avoiding. Even if it’s something simple like treating yourself to some uninterrupted time on social media, it will give you motivation and therefore, you’ll be able to stay productive.
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