We all have days when we tick everything off our to-do list and more, and days when we feel like we’ve got absolutely nothing done. But high productivity does not have to be a one-time thing! By putting the right habits in place, you can ensure you are as productive as can be in your work and personal life.
I recommend having one centralized ‘To-Do’ list. Whether it is paper or digital is entirely up to you, but having multiple scattered lists will guarantee you forget some items. With one centralised list you waste no time trying to find information in a variety of places. I recommend always having your to-do list next to you, on your phone or in a notebook. Evernote is a great tool for this – you can have it on your desktop, tablet and phone and lists automatically sync. Whenever something new you have to do crops up, add it to your list as soon as possible!
2. With that said, I also recommend separating your to-do list into Short-Term Items, like ringing a client and Long-Term Goals like managing a marketing campaign for example. I also write down due dates for all my items. You can then progressively break down your Long-Term Goals into smaller Short-Term Items until they’re completely done! Trello is a great tool for all of this: you can make lists, add comments and checklists as well as due dates for every small and big task at hand.
3. Every Friday afternoon, take 10 to 15 minutes to plan out the upcoming work week. This includes items on your work to-do list, as well as personal events like social gatherings, hobbies and work-outs. Plan out everything you want to get done that week for work, but make sure to set yourself realistic targets. I also take this time to plan meals for the week. Having everything neatly organised and planned will make Monday morning much less stressful.
4. Make sure to sync your calendars across your work phone and computer or laptop. That way, you avoid having to copy events over, or worse, missing meetings. This also applies to personal calendars, which should be synced across your personal phone, tablet and desktop. Some people also choose to sync phones with partners or family members in order to make collective planning easier.
5. Start every work day by doing the task you least want to do – getting it out of the way will leave you feeling relieved and motivated for the rest of the day! This is a difficult habit to get into, but it works wonders. Procrastination is the number one enemy of productivity.
6. Avoid interruptions at all cost. Of course we’ll never stop people from coming over to our desk and asking us questions, but in fact we are much more often interrupted by distractions we created ourselves. When you have a task at hand, decide you’ll work on it for 90 minutes straight for example, and during that time do not check emails, instant messages, social media or anything else. After the 90 minutes are up, check your conversations and have a short break!
7. Focus on one task at a time and reduce the amount of multitasking that you do throughout the day. By constantly switching tasks, or worse, projects, the brain needs more and more time every time to get back into the work at hand.
8. Keep your workspace clutter-free. A nice neat desk will help keep your mind from feeling cluttered and hectic! I try to only have my laptop, my phone, my To-Do list and my pens on my desk when I’m working. If I print anything out / receive any mail, I immediately file it away. If necessary, take five minutes every morning to clear away your desk.
9. Reward yourself! If you get an important work task completed in advance, give yourself a small reward – you’ve earned it. Whether that’s a chocolate bar or a quick coffee break with a friend, making sure to celebrate the work you’ve accomplished and rest your brain will make you even more productive when you return to work.
By Sophie Bianchi
Sophie Bianchi is a content and outreach marketer for the Totaljobs Group. She has worked in five countries for a variety of brands including Zalando and Nestlé.