Workplaces are spaces created to help people get stuff done. From an office’s floor plan to its IT processes, managers and owners want to encourage productivity in every aspect of their organization. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, that’s sometimes not possible. Roadblocks to productivity are a constant battle.
There are ways, however, to streamline your day and be productive despite daily pitfalls and time-sucks. Consider these nine solutions for problems most people encounter in a typical work day and how to fight through them in such a way that they don’t tank your work goals.
1. Plan Ahead
Living in the moment is something you hear a lot, and it’s a great idea for spending time with your kids or enjoying a meal. When it’s about your workday, however, it can mean letting your day lead you instead of you leading your day. Take 15 minutes before you walk out the office door to consider what’s on your plate in the coming day. It will likely save you hours in the long run.
2. Leave Time for Inevitable Disruptions
You can’t always plan for these — an impromptu meeting with a client or someone else’s failed project falls into your lap — but you can leave room for them. Most disruptions are self-imposed, however, and once your concentration is broken, it takes about 23 minutes to get back on track. Save yourself those precious minutes by taking planned breaks — after an accomplishment.
3. Be Realistic About Your Schedule
Schedules can streamline your day and help you find productive solutions to common pitfalls, but if it’s not a realistic version of your workday, it’s useless. An impossible-to-accomplish schedule can tank your processes and set you up for failure. Be thoughtful about what you can accomplish and realistic about your workday to set yourself up for success.
4. Don’t Be Too Available
When you make yourself available, you feel like you are valued and that you are accomplishing goals, but you are likely putting out small fires that don’t do much to help your day. When you check your email, leave your phone turned all the way up or give everyone you meet access, you can’t get your own work done. Your day starts in decision mode, and it’s hard to shake that.
Check your email when it’s best for you, but don’t jump to any immediate responses. Work without your notifications on — one small email can cost you those precious 23 minutes. If you plan a time to respond, it won’t stop you from doing what you need to accomplish what you want.
5. Limit Your Access
Time-sucks might not just be others trying to find you. It may be you are too distracted by what’s happening around you — a message from your sister pops up as a Facebook notification or you keep refreshing your newsfeed to stay updated on the latest craziness that’s happening. All those small things can mean you have too much access to the outside world.
Try working off-grid for a few hours a day. It will help you focus and prevent the cyberworld around you from tanking your productivity.
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6. Take Real Breaks
For these productive solutions to have a real impact, you have to give yourself a break. Many people think that means eating a granola bar while checking their inbox, but that’s not a real break. Give your head time away from work completely for a few moments throughout each day. It will increase your productivity and decrease your stress.
7. Arrive Early
Productivity is often tanked by swarms of people around you. Getting to work early puts your head in the game, and it also gives you a few quiet moments to get ahead of what’s coming your way.
8. Get out of Your Work Bubble
When your mind is constantly humming with work, you don’t give it space for productive solutions. One pitfall people make here is staying inside their workspace all day. Get away from the office for lunch, even if you brownbag it. Take a 10-minute walk outside to get some fresh air and clear your head. Sometimes, the best way to be productive is to give your mind a break.
9. Move Your Body
Tech has created a world where most people are stuck behind a computer or desk for hours at a time. Blood starts to pool and the brain starts to wilt. Your mind works better when you give your body some time to move. It pumps blood throughout your systems while increasing oxygen — all of which help you run more efficiently.
Stay Ahead Through Self-Care
What all these tips have in common is they work to make you better so you can do your work better. Productive solutions organically happen when you work at your peak, but you can’t do that if you don’t take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, take breaks and give your mind a break from work on the weekends or days off. Stopping work may be the key to getting work done.