Feeling stuck in a productivity rut? Working tirelessly on a project for hours on end, without getting anywhere, can be incredibly frustrating. For some, a rut can last for days or even weeks. Others hit a wall periodically each day. Whichever category you fall into, there are plenty of easy ways to leave those unproductive days behind for good.
Are you a morning person, or do you hit your stride right after lunch? Improving productivity at work starts with understanding how to maximize your workday. Keep track of when you feel the most motivated and try to work on your large, difficult projects then. Scheduling big tasks for times in the day when you have the most energy makes them easier to complete and leaves more time for working on the rest of your to-do list. If your position includes flexible work hours or if you work from home, then this strategy can even apply to hours outside of the typical 9 to 5.
Limiting the distractions around you can help you work effectively and efficiently. When you’re distracted, even simple tasks can take up your whole day. Instead, consider reducing the number of distractions in your work environment. Turn off the notifications on your phone and email account. If your office uses collaborative softwares like Slack, consider turning those notifications off, too. Set aside a few short breaks in your day when you can check these accounts instead of constantly responding to new messages, calls, and emails.
When work gets busy and stressful, it can be easy to let things pile up—physically and mentally. Giving your desk a good spring cleaning can help you take a much needed break and come back to your to-do list with fresh eyes. The importance of a good office environment is often overlooked, but it can mean the difference between another day at the office and your best day at the office. Find more ways to destress at the workplace here.
Big, complicated projects can be extremely intimidating. Sometimes, just figuring out where to start can be a task all by itself. By breaking up large tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces, you are setting manageable goals for yourself that make it easier to tackle the project as a whole. This improves your quality of work in the workplace and helps you check your own progress throughout the day.
Organizing your day by the type of tasks you have to complete is a great way to structure your time. For example, save your smaller tasks for points in the day when you have less energy. Have a day full of meetings? Use the time in between to reply to those emails. Or try tackling your larger projects first thing in the morning, when you feel the most motivated and focused. Find even more ways to manage your time at the office here.
Grouping tasks together can help make your day go by faster, but be careful not to multitask. While it may sound productive, multitasking prevents you from devoting all of your energy to your current project. Without fully focusing on what’s in front of you, you risk spending more time on easy assignments, unnecessarily stretching out your day. Multitasking can also fatigue you more quickly and decrease the quality of your work.
If you’re dreading a certain project, try planning a reward for yourself after you finish it. This could be a snack, a cup of tea or coffee, or watching an episode of your favorite TV show when you get home. Or, step away from your desk altogether—take a short walk or say hi to a coworker. Who knows, you may even boost his or her productivity, too! Giving yourself something to look forward to encourages you to finish the task faster, which leaves you room to get more done later in the day.
Seven Ways to Find Your Optimal Work Environment and Boost Productivity: