Did you think multitasking and skipping lunch would help you get more work done? Think again. These productivity tips can help you get back on track.
Productivity tips are great — but you have to integrate them into your daily routine in order to make them work. As Entrepreneur explains, “The good news is that exceptional results are also the result of consistent daily choices. Nowhere is this more true than with your morning routine. The way you start your day is often the way that you finish it.”
How can you be more productive each day? Here are five productivity tips you can start using today:
1. Focus on Energy, Not Time
It doesn’t matter how much time you have for a task if you’re exhausted. Neuroscientists have found that multitasking drains your energy stores, so while you were worried about completing many tasks at once, you were depleting your energy and lowering your productivity.
It’s crucial to monitor your own energy levels to understand when your energy typically goes up and down. You’ll want to perform your most important tasks when your energy levels are highest, and do less-critical or less energy-demanding tasks at other times. In terms of your energy, are you a morning person or a late-afternoon person? Do you have more energy earlier in the week or later? Again, find the answers and plan your most important tasks accordingly.
2. Take Breaks
We are humans, not machines. An article from Scientific American suggests taking a restorative break from time to time to keep your brain (and body) functioning well. For example, let’s say you’re writing an important report. Try to take a break halfway through, especially if you notice your concentration starting to dip.
Trying to work when your energy levels are dropping is simply a bad idea. The article suggests that it’s far better to take a break and return to the work refreshed than to try to push through as your energy wanes and the quality of your work suffers. The break might mean walking around for ten minutes, going for a coffee or chatting with a friendly coworker — the important thing to do is to come back re-energized. Even getting up and stretching for five minutes can help you feel more energized, healthy and productive.
3. Plan for Tomorrow at the End of Today
You want to have a plan of action ready for each day, whether it’s a color-coded to-do list or notes scratched on a sliver of paper. Productivity apps can be a great accessory to achieving success with this approach. Make your to-do list at the end of each work day, since you know what you’ve finished or closed, what you’re working on and what you’ll need to do next. If you’re not sure about the priority of your tasks, talk to your supervisor or manager and clarify things. Plan to do the important things when your energy level is highest. Some people like to jump right into the difficult things, while others prefer to build momentum by completing easier tasks before tackling tough ones.
4. Eat Lunch and Snack Appropriately
When you work hard and don’t remember to eat, you may lose productivity, according to the Harvard Business Review. While skipping lunch or breaks may seem to mark you as “a hard worker,” it actually jeopardizes the quality of your work and your mood. Hungry people are more likely to grab unhealthy snacks and wolf them down, rather than opting for whole foods that nourish the mind and body. People who don’t eat well and who overwork are also more irritable and less productive. Eating fuels productivity, so plan to eat lunch and have snacks to maintain your energy levels.
5. Focus on Work, Not Email or Phone Messages
Productive work requires immersion in a task, especially when the task requires deep thinking or creativity. You’ll want to reduce interruptions as much as possible, so put a “Do Not Interrupt” sign near your workspace. Even more importantly, don’t interrupt the flow of your work by checking email or phone messages every ten minutes or so. Try to block off the time you need to complete the task, and immerse yourself in doing the work. People will understand that you’re busy — they have jobs, too. Ignore your email, phone and coworkers who “need just a minute” of your time. They can be productivity-killers.
Following the five productivity tips listed above may help you to work better and align your highest energy levels with your most important tasks. The key to improving your productivity is understanding when you work best, then planning your work activities accordingly.