1. Morning Routine: I’ve learned that I am more productive on the days that I go to the gym before work. I work harder, feel better, and am in a better mood. I just have to remember that every time my alarm clock goes off and I don’t want to leave my bed. (Recommended Reading: How Does Exercise Increase Productivity?) A morning routine can be different for everyone – some people do yoga, spend time with their families, or catch up on email. Find the routine that works best for you! (Recommended Reading: 12 Things Successful People Do Before Breakfast) When you get to work in the morning (or on your commute) make a list of the top three things that are the highest priority and break it down into the steps that you need to take to get them done. Most people are the most productive when they first get to work, so use the first hour to work on the project that will take the most focus.
2. Avoid Distractions: When I worked for a government agency, we weren’t allowed to have our phones on in the building. We were also very limited in the number of websites that we could access – that meant no Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, or GChat. I was very productive! Now that I am in marketing, I need to be on social media for work, but I only check it a few times a day for research. I also try to keep my phone off for most of the day. If your company uses chat or GChat to communicate, set your message to busy or invisible. If you are a writer or need to plan or brainstorm, I find that it is helpful to take out a notebook and write everything down by hand. It is okay if you make mistakes, just cross it out and keep going. You won’t have the distraction of typing, formatting, or the urge to search for a synonym, phrase, or quote. Once you have the general idea you can type it up and write the second draft.
3. Create a To Do List: I love to do lists. They help me keep track of everything that I need to accomplish. I have a lot of clients and different projects so it is helpful to keep a running list of tasks so nothing slips through the cracks. Staring at a long to do list can feel overwhelming at times so I like to break down each task into multiple smaller tasks. For example, if I am making a content calendar for a client I’ll write down the due date and create a bullet for each network. I cross it off as it is completed. You can do this for any big project. For example, if you were planning an event you could break it down into tasks like send invitations, hire a caterer etc.
4. Get Away: I’ve found that if I am having trouble concentrating it is helpful to get up and change where I sit in the office. I’ll go to an empty conference room or table for a change of scenery.
5. Take a Break: It seems counterintuitive, but taking a short break can help you be more productive when you get back. If you are feeling overwhelmed by a long to do list or an fast approaching deadline it can be helpful to get up and walk around.
6. Listen to Music: I find that listening to music makes me more productive and increases my mood (Recommended Reading: Music and Productivity: 5 Ideas for Using Music To Boost Performance.) I use Spotify to make playlists and have certain playlists that I play based upon my mood and what I am working on. Learn what works best for you. Music might be fine or helpful for certain tasks and detrimental for others. For example, I can’t edit work while listening to music.
7. Answer Emails in Blocks: At some of my past jobs, I could have spent the entire day just answering emails. Answering emails isn’t work. You still have to get work done. I don’t have a lot of client facing work so anyone that needs me can come over to my desk. I answer my emails and check them but I only check periodically so that I can have time to focus on getting work done.
Bonus: Clean Your Desk: It is much harder to do work when you have a messy desk and desktop. Organize your desk. An added bonus is that it makes coworkers think that you are organized and put together.
What would you add? I love hearing people’s productivity tips!