According to a recent employee survey featured on Entrepreneur, almost half of employees reported being distracted for more than 20% of their work day. Indeed most offices are filled with potential distractions, from social networking to coworkers and beyond. These distractions make it easy to delay doing work, and these delays can lead to more stress later on when the work isn’t done. It’s time to stop the cycle.
Ditch the To-Do List
Crafting the perfect to-do list can be incredibly satisfying because it feels like an accomplishment. But spending too long planning can get in the way of actually crossing items off the list. Before leaving work, set a plan for the next day, and make small adjustments in the morning if necessary. Then leave the list alone. It may not all get done in the day, but returning to fix the list again and again creates a false sense of productivity, filling time that could be put towards real work.
Find the Perfect Time of Day
Most people tend to be most productive during particular times of the day. Throughout a week, take note of when you feel the best and accomplish the most each day. Capitalize on these periods going forward by tackling the most difficult projects then.
Note if there are less focused parts of the day as well. Either schedule less demanding tasks during those times, or try to prevent the mental slump with caffeine or a quick walk beforehand.
According to the same survey in Entrepreneur, 70% of employees reported their health habits noticeably impacting their ability to focus. Exercising regularly leads to sharper focus, better moods, improved memory, and higher energy. All of these boosts from exercise can contribute to higher productivity during the day. Furthermore, taking an hour to work out can be a break from any stress or worries at the office, leaving you more focused afterward.
Make Time to Do Nothing
It’s okay to work past the usual 9-to-5, and working from home is more common than ever before. Putting in more hours is also a great way to go the extra mile as an employee. However, it is equally important to allow time to decompress. Studies have shown taking mental breaks during and after work leads to increased focus and productivity, so dedicate a small part of every day to clearing your mind. Commit time outside of work to hobbies, friends, family, and fun, and value the distractions.