Normal work hours are usually limited to eight hours per day. But there are times when the job at hand just demands more, or so it seems. Actually, it all boils down to perspective and productivity.
No, we're not accusing you of twiddling your thumbs and just scrolling through your Facebook timeline all day long. (Although, if you are, then that's your problem right there.) We only mean to say that you might be looking at your workload—and the way you handle it—all wrong.
See, you can probably accomplish all your tasks for the day in only two hours (or at least feel like it's only been two hours) if you manage your time at the office more wisely.
In an article for Buzzfeed, Noah Charney, author of The Art Thief, shared how, a couple of years ago, he "wrote a book and a half, taught three courses, and wrote 66 articles (62 of which were published), not to mention the 52 installments of [his] weekly series on writing," all while juggling recent fatherhood.
A few experts weighed in on how to have a more productive workday over at MensHealth.com, too. We've picked up a few tricks from them that will help you do just that. Here are six.
Trick #1: Find your zone.
Know when you are at your most productive. Maybe it's after your second cup of java for the day or after your lunch out with your guy. Whenever that time may be for you, move your schedule around it.
If you know when your mind is sharp, your energy is high, and can therefore get the most work done, that's when you should dive right into the important stuff.
"If you're spending your most productive time of day doing email or other tasks that aren't your true priorities, you won't get your best work done," says Kathryn McKinnon, Harvard Business School Executive Coach and author of Triple Your Time Today, to Men's Health US.
And speaking of emails…
Trick #2: Take control of your email inbox.
You can be spending hours of your precious time sorting through and replying to e-mails, and still find yourself drowning in them. That was exactly the case for one of McKinnon's clients. And her solution? Follow the 6-12-6 rule.
According to McKinnon, this is how highly productive executives stay on top of their inbox: Go through your emails only at 6am, 12nn, and then once more when 6pm rolls around.
If someone urgently needs to get in touch with you, they'll find a way to get your phone (if they don't have it yet) and give you a call. Or maybe even drop by your cubicle, if it's that pressing a matter.
An even more extreme version of this is employed by Charney, who openly admits to checking and responding to emails only twice a week.
"I find that when I do administrative work (emails, errands, invoices, phone calls) I'm in one zone, and I cannot easily shift into 'creative mode' and get good writing done," he explains. "I therefore try to limit and define when I do this admin, so it does not tread on the toes of my real work: writing."
But for most people who just can't afford to do that, Charney offers another way: "[C]reate multiple email addresses that you check in different ways, and assign to different tasks…[then] be selective in giving out (and writing from) [each] email address."
Designate one that's strictly for professional matters, and one for personal messages from family and friends.
Trick #3: Allocate your time.
"Chop up your tasks into piecemeal portions and attack them one at a time," recommends Charney.
It's empowering whenever you check a new box off your to-do list—even if those boxes are just small parts of one big project. This way, you'll feel more productive, and your load will seem way lighter.
Then, after accomplishing each portion, reward yourself with a 17-minute break. A study conducted by DeskTime, a time-tracking app, found this to be the schedule its top 10 percent most productive users follow on average.
So go ahead and "cyberloaf" a little. That is, check out your social media feeds, watch a few of those viral videos, pass on some cat GIFs. According to a Singaporean study, these actually help you be more productive in the long run because they reboot and refresh your mind instantly.
Trick #4: Pick the right tunes.
Office chatter can be a real distraction especially when you're trying to beat a tight deadline and your cube neighbor is just off shooting the bull. So you put in some earphones in an attempt to drown him out.
Problem is, this might actually be doing you more harm than good. Research in Applied Cognitive Psychology found that listening to pop music with lyrics led to poorer performance in memory and reading comprehension tests compared to when the tasks are done in silence.
The fix? Listen to nature sounds instead. A study from the Acoustical Society of America found that natural sounds, like flowing water, could boost your mood and up your productivity.
Trick #5: Keep your cellphone out of sight.
It may seem a little drastic, but a University of Southern Maine study reports that simply having your cell phone on your desk distracts you during complex tasks.
And a Michigan State University found that even a 2.8-second distraction from a task makes you twice as prone to make a mistake when you return to it—and thrice as much after a 4.2-second interruption. So replying to that occasional text? Yup. It could really mess up your productivity.
Trick #6: Prep tomorrow's to-do list today.
Just making a checklist is very beneficial already. It helps you keep organized, and being able to track your progress can be a great morale-booster. But if you do it the day before, it only gets more effective.
When you're already in work mode, it's only going to take you a few minutes to assess what you really need to get done first thing the next morning. So taking an extra 15 minutes at the end of the day to strategize might save you up to an hour tomorrow morning, says productivity coach and founder of The ProductivityExperts.com Cathy Sexton to Men's Health US.
Sexton also suggests splitting your list in two columns: high priority and low priority, for a more efficient system.
This story originally appeared on Menshealth.ph!
* Minor edits have been made by Cosmo.ph editors