We all have our own special ways of working. And we all know that with these special ways of working come our own special ways of not working—swiping through Tinder, scrolling through Facebook, taking your fifth trip to the bathroom in less than two hours, and spinning around in your office chair for an unacceptable amount of time.
We totally get it, though. It’s so hard to stay focused and productive every second of every day, and at times, it can feel absolutely impossible, like you’d rather bang your head against the wall then actually type another word. But that’s why we’re here, to get to you before that head banging does. These five tricks will help you find your most productive self.
Give yourself a limit.
Each task should have a limit. If you don’t give a task a time limit, then you’re basically giving that task permission to take over your entire day. As you do this more and more, you’ll get better at it. But for now, it’s okay to overestimate a tad. The key is to be fair to each of your tasks and to avoid squeezing too much (or too little) into one day.
Limits help prevent mental burnout, as well. When you spend too much time on a task or project, it’s normal to hit a wall and be exhausted. Continuing to work on that project usually results in sub-par work because you’re slogging through it. So break things up and switch tasks when you hit those pre-determined limits you set.
You cannot be productive if your entire day is spent working because—in all reality—we know you aren’t really working. If anything, you’re probably thinking about how great it would be to take a break. So rather than thinking about it, just go ahead and take the break. You’ll feel refreshed afterwards and ready to start actually working again. Check out the Pomodoro Technique; it makes planning your breaks incredibly simple.
Tuck your phone into a drawer, block unproductive websites, and pop in some headphones to minimize inter-office chitchatting. This doesn’t mean you can’t check your phone or you’re banned from your coworkers, it just means you should only do it when it’s time for one of those breaks.
Avoid unnecessary office habits.
There are things that people do at work that have become part of their routine. Sounds a bit ridiculous, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Every morning, they spend ten minutes talking to the receptionist and every afternoon, they take a walk to So-And-So’s cubicle down the way. And don’t lie, you know exactly what we’re talking about. While this isn’t a huge deal, it can significantly eat into your working hours if you aren’t careful. So either stop doing it or build it into your break time.
Plan out your day and prioritize.
It’s absolutely critical to your productivity that you plan out your workday. This will give you the ability to schedule your breaks successfully and to allot time to each task. While you’re planning out your day, you can decide which things are doable, what can wait, and what items need to be done immediately. Having a priority list will make it easier for you to glance quickly at what needs to be done today or what can get pushed to tomorrow. No one likes being in the position of walking out of the office at 5:00 and realizing they forgot to finish that important report that was due at 2:00. Yikes.