That list should contain no more than two or three items. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day of work, and resist the urge to make a to-do list for the whole week, which can leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Because our primal mind craves distraction, the classic to-do list can prevent interruptions from taking over your day.
Answering an email or liking a post on Facebook can be a form of structured procrastination. Writing your to-do list can also be a form of structured procrastination. So, give yourself five minutes or less to write a to-do list each morning. Some people like to keep their lists on paper — making emphatic and satisfying checkmarks whenever they complete a task. Others prefer the computer route. To avoid confusion, pick either paper or digital for your lists, as it can be hard to manage both.
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But your physical workspace can have a big effect on productivity. Morgenstern, the time management expert.
Morgenstern maintains — the rest is tied to time management. Out-of-control piles of paper may be a sign that you need to delegate, she said. Ask yourself: Are the piles on your desk the same ones that were there three weeks ago, or are they moving?
Put some helpline numbers and web links in your phone to pass on straight away. Once you have that in place, preparing an agenda becomes a matter of filling in the blanks. The worst part? Sometimes work can get a little stressful, and having goals to work towards gives you a better sense of direction. Gini Graham Scott. Having experienced reps mentor new ones will aid in training, and be beneficial to your overall sales process. Basically, increasing productivity just means working smarter.
Not understanding the capabilities of your computer can be a serious hindrance to your productivity.
Some people fear that asking for tech help will make them look incompetent, but in fact the opposite is true, according to research. Ask for technology advice when you think a computer or online task is taking longer than it should. Make an effort to seek out the people who can fill in your knowledge gaps, while being respectful of their time and responsibilities.
Managers can assist in this process by offering regular information sessions and company-specific manuals related to technology like email, Excel, Microsoft Word, Slack and others. A mentorship program is another option. Do you find yourself constantly stopping to check your email? Email is an ideal way to practice structured procrastination — when you work on an easy, unimportant task rather than tackle a harder, important one.
Email is like life: It is messy, imperfect, full of surprises, and everybody handles it differently. There is no perfect email system. Embrace the daily challenge of keeping your work life under control by using email as your ally rather than your nemesis. Another meeting-filled day? Meetings don't have to feel like time-sucks.
With these tips and strategies, they can be efficient and productive. Spend a week or two identifying the email issues that consistently frustrate you or slow you down. Your guru could be a super-efficient co-worker or someone from tech support, but it should be someone who can show you how to use built-in features that you may not be aware of, like filters that can block unimportant messages and send them to spam. Ask about how you can use labels, folders, filters, archives, starred messages, unsubscribe lists and other features to help you spend less time on email.
No email guru in your office? There are plenty of online resources for email management tips. Does an overflowing space where books, papers, and yes, pencils, pile up everywhere feel more inspiring to you? Sometimes the best way to get something done is not to work on it for a while. Standing up and moving around improves blood flow to the brain, which enhances cognition. Alan Hedge, an ergonomics professor at Cornell, suggests that workers try a combination of sitting, standing and walking to keep altering their body position and give their minds a break from work.
A timed combination of sitting, standing and walking can help you work at your best. Where were you the last time you had a great idea? Your desk? Or was it when you were in the shower, while you were walking your dog or driving your kids to school? Instead of powering through, consider intentionally taking a break from a large project for up to 10 hours.
That will allow new ideas to marinate in your subconscious, causing your neurons to make new connections. Sleep is one of the most effective ways to take a long break, so try not to give it short shrift.
Research shows that sleep allows our brains to make new and unexpected connections , leading to insights and breakthroughs — which explains why we so often have brilliant ideas during our morning shower. Learn to identify the signs of mental fatigue, like reading the same sentence over and over websites or writing emails with no real goals or priorities in mind. Your body naturally wants to go to sleep about seven hours after waking, and this is amplified by the effects of digestion. Unfortunately, this biological reality collides with an economic one: Most offices frown on napping.
To best increase your energy, it may be a good idea to drink a cup of coffee before your nap. Research has shown that this method likely works because the short power nap helps clear the brain of the sleep-inducing compound adenosine. Caffeine, meanwhile, takes about 20 minutes to have its physiological effect — kicking in just as the napper is awakening. If a nap is out of the question, however, train yourself to quickly recognize the signs of the post-lunch dip: drowsiness and an inability to concentrate.
Then, get up and walk around, talk to a colleague at another desk or work on something less demanding of your brain power until the sleepiness passes. When we feel overwhelmed at work, our fight-or-flight response tends to come into play, leading us to take quick, shallow breaths. This sends less oxygen to the brain, causing us to become even more stressed and to think less clearly.
Counteract the effects of stress by breathing more efficiently. Most people are vertical breathers, in that their shoulders move up when they inhale, according to Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist and breath instructor. Many people also breathe from their upper chest, whereas the biggest part of the lungs is in the middle of the body.
Horizontal breathing may seem unnatural at first, but it is actually the way animals and small children breathe. Working with your body rather than against it, you will maximize the blood flow to your brain — and your mental capacity. When you feel stressed, you may start to lift your shoulders up toward your ears, clench your face or tense up all over. Over time, these actions become so habitual that you become unaware of them. The purpose of good posture is to expand our bodies rather than to compress them. Good posture allows you to breathe more fully, prevent chronic pain and think more clearly.
As you do your work, try to be aware of any excess tension you are holding in your body. For example, you may tense up your hands far more than necessary when you type or use a mouse.
If you start to feel any tension, try to stretch that area of your body. This exercise is a component of the Alexander Technique, a way of learning about how to rid your body of harmful tension. When you see people hunched forward in front of their screens, chances are they are end gaining.
Good posture enables you to meet your work in the present moment, and therefore get it done more efficiently. An author explains how seeing problems from a different perspective may have a similar outcome as the Eastern approach of suspending thought. Treadmill desks can be good exercise, but they may impair the ability to concentrate and remember.
Fact: Multitasking is an illusion. Research shows that people get more done if they concentrate on one task at a time. Switching frequently between tasks — or believing that you are actually doing more than one thing at once — will actually slow you down. Among other things, this variety helps bring more blood to your brain, improving your cognition and therefore your productivity.