Staying productive can be hard and organization doesn’t always come easy when you have a lot on your plate.
Whether you’re constantly flapping like a penguin trying to fly or you know you have a hectic week coming up, here are five secrets to ensure you have a productive work week.
1. Get your to-do list in check
If you’re an office-based worker, a to-do list should be no stranger to you. But are you using it effectively?
To-do lists are handy as they reduce repetition in your workload and help minimise errors, such as missing deadlines. However, you need to remember that crossing off completed tasks every five minutes doesn’t necessarily equate to being productive, and constantly rewriting and reorganising your list is unnecessary admin.
If you really want to have a productive work week, you need to get your to-do list in check. If you have a lot on, it may be worth creating a handful of lists to keep on top of your priorities. For example, if you have a few projects lasting a few weeks or months, make sure they’re in one list. You could also try having another list featuring tasks to be completed that week, and then another list for tasks to tick off each day. While this may sound like a lot of work, having your goals and tasks laid out in a clear, tailored manner will help you stay on top of things.
Check out Chrome extension, Momentum. In addition to supplying a soothing background image to your browser, Momentum lets you add customisable to-do lists, too. You also might like to take a look at some of our other favourite productivity apps in this post.
2. Work on your time management
There are many parallels between your to-do list and your time management. The key to success is making sure that you set yourself manageable tasks each day. Therefore, in addition to having an achievable workload, you need to be strict on the time you give yourself to complete each task.
A great time-management technique is the Pomodoro Technique, created by Francesco Cirillo. The technique involves working on one task for 25 minutes (that’s one pomodoro) and taking a short break of around 3–5 minutes. Once you’ve worked for four pomodoros, take a slightly longer break of 15–30 minutes, and start the cycle again.
We understand that working so precisely and taking a long 30 minute break may be difficult at work, especially in an office environment, however, this technique should shed some light on how to manage your time effectively and the importance of taking a break to reset the mind. See if you can adapt it to your schedule.
Are you looking for more ways to have a productive work week? In this post we are sharing our 5 best-kept productivity secrets!
3. Think yourself productive
Having a sluggish day? Don’t worry; you can think yourself productive!
That’s right, positive thinking is much more than a motivational phrase. Much like your muscles and other parts of your body, your brain has a natural plasticity that means it can strengthen or weaken, depending on how you use it.
Advances in neuroscience and the new field of positive psychology reveal that the left side of your brain has more activity if you’re happy, and the right has more activity if you’re sad. It’s suggested then, that if you encourage regular, positive thoughts, there will be more activity in the left overall, resulting in a happier mood and heightened productivity levels.
4. Eat and drink regularly
Foodies rejoice – research shows that regularly eating and drinking is the way to keep your productivity levels at a constant.
If you’re constantly slipping into a weary afternoon slump and are in desperate need of a brain boost, walk away from the coffee and donuts. Instead, reach for foods rich in natural, healthy fats such as nuts or avocado. The natural fats, antioxidants and amino acids help stimulate blood flow, resulting in more oxygenated blood to the brain, fast.
A few sips of water every 15 minutes or so will also help keep your productivity high and the fatigue at bay. Dehydration by just 2% will impair your task performance and memory skills, so if you want to avoid a dip in productivity, keep your fluids topped up.
5. Map out a routine
Does the idea of a routine send shudders down your spine? Don’t worry; it does for most people, especially those who dread a morning alarm. There are many advantages of a daily routine that enable you to have a productive work week. Firstly, a routine, and therefore some structure, will help split your day into chunks to complete various tasks and errands.
In addition, an established schedule will help you sleep better. Our bodies love a routine and it’s in our DNA – literally! We all have a circadian rhythm, also known as our body clock, which helps regulate our periods of wakefulness and sleepiness. When there’s a lack of light, our bodies respond by producing melatonin which makes us drowsy – so if you’re sitting in a darkened room listening to a company presentation and you start nodding off, that’s why!
If you map out a routine in line with your circadian rhythms, you’re more likely to get a decent night’s rest. Keep your bed time and wake-up time consistent and you’ll feel fresher as you head for the office.
Don’t feel you have to embed all five secrets into your daily routine to enable productivity. Just try out one for starters, and you’ll ensure a productive work week lies ahead.
Laura Slingo is Digital Copywriter for the fastest-growing job board in the US, Resume-Library. For more expert advice on job searches, careers and the workplace, visit their Career Advice pages.