Whether you are working 9-5 or you create your own schedule, when you are “on the clock” there is no doubt that you are wanting to get more done. Of course you could work more hours to get more done, but there is a lot of time “on the clock” that isn’t being utilized. We are not going to tell you to skip lunch and take no bathroom breaks. We are going to run through simple tools and techniques you can implement today to help you get more done.
- Turn off notifications… it is backed by science
Let’s start with a scary fact. The average worker only is productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes. You may be thinking, “how is this even possible?” or “that could never be me!” but let me explain in more detail. It seems obvious why this turning off notifications is important, but I promise there is more to it. If you are in the middle of working hard and your phone lights up from a notification you get, you may lose 5 seconds from looking at the notification and getting back to your work. Even if this happens 12 times a day you only lose 60 seconds of productivity.
Or say if you have your email notifications on and you get an email that takes 3 minutes to thoughtfully read and respond to and that happens 15 times a day, that is only 45 minutes. So after our notifications and our emails, we are down to 7 hours and 14 minutes of productivity. How do people get down to less than 3 hours of productivity a day? A lot of emails? Possibly, but not entirely.
The human brain is not efficient at switching between points of attention and maintaining a great deal of focus. When you are in the zone working hard on a project at work and you get an email that you read and respond to right away, your brain does not automatically jump back into the deep focus you had before. It takes your brain roughly 11 minutes to get back to the focused state you were in prior to your email. Every time you look at a notification and then back to your work, you lose 11 minutes of focus. That is not saying you won’t get things done in the 11 minutes until your brian is focused, it is time that could be better spent. If every hour, you get distracted by 3 notifications, you lose 33 minutes of focused productivity. That is 4 hours and 15 minutes of focus that is lost because…you won’t turn your notifications off.
Turn your notifications off on your phone and email except for the people who you want to always have direct access to. Try this for one day and your focus and productivity will sky rocket.
- Plan and Prioritize
There is always going to be more to do, but you are never going to be able to do it all. The seemingly endless list of tasks that we have to accomplish makes it difficult to start. It makes it even more difficult to start on what is most important! When you sit down at your desk or your kitchen table (your virtual office), spend the first 10 minutes of your day writing down what you need to accomplish that day. Make an exhaustive list of tasks and projects that need work. Then, prioritize that list to what needs to be done first, second, third, and so on. A good way to prioritize tasks is to start off with what is most important and most urgent. These are things that have the greatest consequences if they are not completed and they also have an impending deadline.
After you plan and prioritize your tasks, start on the first one! Do not do any work on the other tasks on your list. Stay single focused on the first and most important task at hand. When that is completed, move on to the next. You will be amazed at how in just a few hours, you went from feeling completely overwhelmed to knocking off everything on your list! Writing what we have to do down and prioritizing helps to take the weight out of our mind with the list of things we have to do and the decisions on what we should do next.
- Declutter your Environment
The next time you sit down to work, really take in your work space. Those pieces of papers are piling up to your left and you have had the same sticky note on your right for 5 months now. Take some time to declutter your environment. The cleanliness and organization of your work space will help for you to stay focused. It also allows you to start the day off with some productivity! You feel good when you take the time to clean up and declutter your workspace. You are then able to carry your momentum into your work.
A clean workspace makes us feel good about ourselves and our environment. It is a booster for the day. A cluttered workspace equals a cluttered mind. Everyone knows how difficult it is to get things done when you have a lot on your mind. It is the same with your workspace! You move faster, are more efficient, and more organized when you start the day with decluttering your environment.