No one wants to feel as though they are wasting their time at work. But being productive is not always easy. If you feel like you could have done more at the end of the day, or you don’t know why you still have a pile of work on your desk each day, you might start to feel frustrated and stressed.
A lack of productivity can stem from a variety of things. Maybe you don’t feel fulfilled at work, or perhaps you are already overly-stressed. Many times, though, it is just a lack of motivation or planning that keeps people from getting more done at work.
Thankfully, there are a few clever hacks that you can use to maximize your productivity and leave each workday feeling more accomplished. Let’s take a look at some of these simple productivity hacks that you can put into practice right away.
1. Write Down Your Most Important Tasks
Even if you are not a fan of to-do lists, one way to end each day feeling more productive is to write down your three Most Important Tasks (MITs) for when you get to work the following morning. These are the things that mean the most to you and perhaps will take the most time and effort. But, if you are able to focus your time and energy on those three things and accomplish them, you will feel more productive and accomplished by the time you leave work. Even if you don’t get to anything else during the day, knocking out the three things that are most important will give you a bit of breathing room and will keep you motivated to do more.
2. Don’t Waste Time Checking Emails
You probably do not keep track of how much time you spend checking your email each day, but it is almost guaranteed to be more time than you think! Whether you are diving into your inbox every few minutes out of habit or you immediately check it as soon as you hear a notification, checking your email without a set schedule can waste a lot of time.
Instead, set specific times during the day to check your email. A good rule of thumb is to check it once in the morning, once around lunchtime, and once before you leave for the day. Chances are, you will still be able to read and respond to everything that you need to, and you will be able to get more done since you are not wasting so much time browsing through your inbox.
3. It’s Okay to Say “No!”
Some people have a harder time saying “no” than others. Unfortunately, if co-workers or even your boss realize you are that type of person, they might take advantage of it. You might find yourself getting asked to do extra projects, stay late, come in early, etc.
And, if you continue to agree to those things, you will have less time to focus on the work that you need to get done. You might have so many things on your plate every day that it feels like you are not making a difference anywhere. So, understand that it is okay to say “no,” especially if you are ever feeling overwhelmed. Say “yes” to the things that you are interested in and passionate about, and avoid being pressured into the things that are not as important.
4. Limit Distractions
In this world of ever-changing technology, it is easy to get distracted at work. You might start by watching a YouTube video or checking social media, and before you know it you have wasted an hour of your time.
There are a few ways to easily limit or even eliminate your distractions at work, but they all take a bit of discipline. If you find yourself looking at your phone throughout the day, the best thing you can do is to put it somewhere else. Hide it in a desk drawer, keep it in your bag, or simply turn it off so that you are not receiving notifications. The “out of sight, out of mind” idea really does work, and if your phone isn’t nearby or lighting up every few minutes, you will be less likely to reach for it.
If you tend to browse the Internet while at work, set up website blockers for sites you like to visit. Or use a different browser that does not have bookmarks of your favorite websites. This will help to keep you on track so that you won’t lose large chunks of time on time draining distractions.
5. Choose the Hardest (or Easiest) Task First
If you go into each workday with a specific strategy, you are more likely to get things accomplished. There are two schools of thought on how to get that done when you are faced with both difficult and easy tasks every day. There is no one “right” way. Really, it depends on what works for you.
For some people, starting with their hardest task of the day is the best option for them. Getting that done can make everything else feel easier, so that you can breeze through it quickly. Plus, you will feel more motivated because you have already accomplished something important. Others do better by starting with the easiest tasks on their list and working their way up. This can help if you have trouble building momentum into your day, or you burn out easily. Again, either strategy can work as long as you implement it each day and make the decision to stick with it. It is okay to experiment to determine which one works best for you.
When you end each workday feeling more accomplished and productive, you will experience less stress, more fulfillment, and more motivation to do it all again the next day. So, keep these hacks in mind to boost your productivity and get the most out of every workday.