Secret Hacks For A More Productive Workday
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The standard workday is eight hours, but research suggests that most of us are only productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes of it. Still, many of us feel overworked or as if there isn't enough time in the day to get everything done. The truth is that it's about working smarter, not harder, and the following hacks can help you increase your productivity:
Prepare your mind and body for the workday ahead.
There is good reason why some of the world’s top companies are investing in employee mindfulness programs. With scientifically backed health benefits, meditation can increase your clarity and focus and boost your workplace productivity, and popular apps like Headspace and Calm now make it easier than ever to meditate anytime, anywhere.
If meditation isn’t your thing, you can still prime yourself for a productive workday by engaging in some physical activity. An early morning exercise will release endorphins, make you feel more energized and could even improve your on-the-job decision making.
Time blocking, also known as calendar blocking, is the technique of assigning tasks to specific time blocks on your calendar to outline when exactly you’re going to complete everything. Importing your to-do list to your online calendar is a way to ensure you can actually fit everything into your schedule and can help hold you accountable. It only takes a few minutes before you go to sleep, schedule your following workday, and you can even set up mobile or desktop notifications through applications like Google Calendar to make sure you don’t forget when it’s time to shift gears.
Check your email at set intervals.
While it might seem like a good idea to constantly refresh your inbox, it’s only hurting your productivity. Stopping to read every new email as it enters your inbox interrupts your workflow, using up precious time and energy as you try to refocus on whatever task you were completing beforehand.
Increase your productivity by checking your inbox at scheduled times throughout the day. Start by turning off email notifications on all your devices then blocking out specific times on your calendar to read and respond to messages. If you’re concerned about missing “emergency” or “time-sensitive” emails, you can always adjust your settings so that you only receive notifications from certain addresses or contacts.
Block websites that waste your time.
A quick Facebook scroll can turn into a 30-minute session before you know it. Luckily there are plenty of easy and safe tools you can add your web browser that’ll block distracting websites either indefinitely or for a specified period of time. Try downloading an app or extension like FocusMe, StayFocusd, or Freedom the next time you feel like checking Twitter.
Prioritize tasks using the Eisenhower Decision Matrix.
Time blocking is of no use if you don’t know where to start. Consider using the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to prioritize your daily to-dos. The matrix helps organize your tasks by urgency and importance, allowing you to visualize your to-do list and decide what takes priority based on where tasks fall. This YouTube video from eisenhower.me explains the matrix in more detail.
It might seem counterintuitive, but focusing on one task instead of multiple can actually save you time. Research suggests that switching between multiple tasks can double the number of errors you make, drain your neural resources, and make it more difficult to pay close attention. Instead, try “monotasking,” also known as single-tasking, and focus all your energy on one task at a time.
Catch up on your ZZZ’s.
It’s no secret that a sleepless night can negatively impact work performance, and science tells us that a lack of sleep can impair judgment, memory, and learning. No amount of caffeine will substitute a good night’s sleep, so if you’re trying to be more productive, getting the recommended 7-9 hours is essential.
All of us have the same 24 hours in a day - no more, no less. It's ultimately how we decide to spend this time that makes a difference, and implementing these few simple hacks into your routine can set you up for the most productive day ahead.