1. Make the day’s to-do list the night before.
Spending just a few minutes each night to plan the day ahead and prioritize tasks will do wonders for your productivity. When you start the next day already knowing what to do, you’ll be wasting less time getting in the swing of work.
2. Tackle your tasks by batch.
Tim Ferriss, author of the book The 4 Hour Work Week, suggests grouping similar tasks together and tackling them within the same batch so you don’t lose the rhythm you’re already in. For instance, answer correspondences within one period and set meetings within an afternoon instead of mixing these separate tasks together.
3. Make use of your commute.
Instead of just seething while stuck in traffic, make your hours-long commute productive by planning the day’s tasks even further or making phone calls and quick emails so you have less of those to deal with when you get to the office.
4. Declutter your workspace.
Come up with a filing system for your documents so you’re not turning your entire desk over just looking for a slip of paper from 2010. And all those knickknacks that just add to your anxiety whenever you see them taking over your desk? Toss ‘em, stat.
5. Avoid multitasking.
ICYDK, our brains are meant to focus on only one thing at a time, and multitasking is actually doing them harm, lowering IQ, and even possibly resulting in brain damage. Turn your complete attention to one task at a time instead of switching from mini-task to mini-task; your brain will thank you for it.
6. Get rid of time-wasters.
Meetings where you’re not really needed and constant checking of email—which the average employee spends 28% of his day doing—are some of the workday activities that eat up your time without you being aware of it. Attend meetings only if your presence is crucial, and set certain times of the day for checking your email inbox—and ignore it the rest of the time.
7. Eliminate distractions.
Do you really need to read another online article about the Kardashians, go through those photos Jenny uploaded from her recent trip to Greece, or get involved in a group chat about Kat’s horrendous #OOTD photo? Steer clear of social media unless you have to for work, turn off notifications on your devices, or just put your phone on silent mode so it doesn’t mess with your ~flow~.
8. Take scheduled breaks.
Working productively doesn’t mean just clacking away at your computer like a robot for 10 straight hours. A study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign demonstrates that brief breaks actually improve one’s ability to focus on long tasks. Similarly, a study conducted by Desktime shows that the most productive people spend 52 minutes working, followed by a 17-minute break. (Go ahead and finally read that online article about the Kardashians during your break.)
9. Walk during your break.
Get some exercise in by taking frequent walks, which will help reduce stress and reboot your system, as well as lessen health risks associated with long periods of sitting.
10. Snack on the right kinds of food.
It’s tempting to guzzle soda for a sugar rush, but you might regret it once you crash later in the workday. Munch on fruits, nuts, or whole grain bars instead, and if you MUST have chocolate, go for dark.
11. Choose background music that helps you work.
If you’re one of those people who prefers having tunes on as you work, that’s all well and good—just make sure it’s not distracting you from an immersive task by prompting you to rap along to hip-hop verses. Audio company Sonos shares an infographic that helps you identify what music goes well with your line of work; for instance, if you do creative work, go with classical or ambient sounds.
12. Seek help if you can’t handle tasks on your own.
Faced with an assignment that you can’t do on your lonesome? Be brave enough to admit weakness and ask for help. You’ll be saving yourself a lot of angst if you unload yourself of some responsibility.
13. Just say no.
If a colleague approaches you for a task you’re too busy for or one that you’re sure you won’t be able to deliver on to the best of your ability, politely decline. Trabaho lang, walang personalan.
14. Let go of your perfectionist tendencies.
Don’t get too caught up in getting the little things perfect that other aspects of your work fall by the wayside. Focus on the end goal, and you’ll be fine.
15. Reward yourself when you get things done.
Finished all of the week’s deliverables by Friday? Reward yourself with a night out with friends! Make a habit of rewarding yourself so the actions that lead to the reward are continually reinforced.
16. Get a good night’s sleep.
Aim for at least seven hours of sleep, which will greatly improve your mood and work performance the next day. And stop fiddling with your phone before bedtime; the light it emits makes you more alert, leading to difficulty dozing off. Those Instagram hearts on your cute dog photo can wait ‘til morning.
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