Time flies, especially if you're wasting it. But wasting time is usually done on the sly, when we least expect it. We definitely do it to ourselves, by checking our emails or text messages too frequently, or finding ways to procrastinate from our work. But when it comes to productivity, there are some ways to stay focused, without feeling pressured by our work.
Here are some quick, easy ways to stay on-task and increase your productivity smoothly and easily.
- Get rid of email, and keep it short too. One bad habit to break for a productive workday is checking your email from the onset. Unless dire for your workplace, email can easily suck people in, and lead to making commitments that slow us down. Cut out email at the beginning of the day, by not checking it within the first hour of working. Instead, devote that hour to completing a task, then check your email.
- And when you're reading or sending emails, keep it short. Try to reduce your email responses to a small paragraph, in order to allow yourself more time to read and respond to emails without getting bogged down.
- Make a self-deadline (with an award). When forced to get things done independently of a deadline, it can be easy to procrastinate until the last-minute. So setting one deadline to end your work day can do wonders to your workload. For parents, that deadline could be the hour you have to pick your kids up from school; for others, it could be that weekly primetime drama, or the planned dinner date with your partner. Work towards meeting those quality times by finishing your work beforehand, leaving the stress at the office.
- Just say no (politely!). Maybe its the co-worker that continuously needs "help," or the friend calling for an unexpected lunch date. If you're really pressed with your work, politely (but confidentially) say no for the moment. Ask for a rain check on that date, or offer to help out after you finish your own tasks. By prioritizing yourself and your work first, you'll feel a lot more free afterwards. Framed correctly, your response does not sound selfish, but shows your responsibility to other commitments and other people counting on you.
- Download an app. One of the easiest ways to help you stay productive is to get technology that will help you. One helpful app is Strict Workflow, an internet version of the pomodoro technique, where productivity is split up into 30-minute sessions. Once activated, a tomato timer will appear on your web browser for 25 minutes. It will block your ability to check Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube, or elsewhere, making it easier for you to keep your focus on the task at hand for 25 minutes, with a 5 minute break in-between. This is a great app for someone who is easily sucked in by social media distractions, where time seems to fly by quicker than it normally does. There are many other free apps that do the trick, so shop around for something that works for you.
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