Are you spending more and more hours at the office, without actually getting more work done? We’ve all had days where we end up doing a 12-hour day, yet we’d have left 3 hours earlier if we hadn’t wasted so much time mid-afternoon… like when just “had” to get another coffee instead of writing this blogpost! So, we're here to help you (and ourselves!) spend less time working and finally get to the end of that ever-growing to-do list with 15 simple tips and tricks:
Taking a break is what you’re trying to avoid, right? It might sound counter-intuitive but taking the time to clear your head could be just what you need. There’s always a limit to how long we can devote ourselves to a task before fatigue starts to wreak havoc on your efficiency. Go out and get 10 minutes of fresh air and you’ll come back to your desk feeling refreshed and ready to go again.
Batch Process Your Tasks
Try to organise your to-do list and group similar tasks together. Instead of starting from scratch when you tick one thing off the list, you’ll gain momentum and will be able to knock them out way quicker. For example, set aside a window of time in the morning and afternoon to respond to emails, and another slot for anything admin related. This way you won’t be disturbed in the midst of other projects.
Swap Coffee for Matcha
Although your average cup of Matcha has about 70mg of caffeine, in comparison to the 95-200mg in coffee, Matcha it’ll provide you with a more sustainable energy boost. It’s also known to increase mental calm and focus, therefore making you more productive over a long period of time. Whereas we all know what it feels like to suffer from the dreaded post-coffee crash!
Take on The Tasks You Don't Like First
If there’s a task or project you don’t enjoy, get it done straight away. Often coined “eating the frog”, it’ll prevent procrastination, where you let the task weigh on your minds as it’s pushed further and further down your list. Some also follow the 5-minute rule – meaning anything that takes less than 5 minutes should be done immediately. It’s another way to gain momentum and it’ll feel great to tick off quick tasks.
Be Ruthless with Distractions
We often feel like we have to be contactable 24/7, always available for whatsapp messages or your colleague’s “urgent” emails. But realistically, it’s unlikely that much of your inbox needs a within the first 30 minutes (depending on your job of course!). Ideally, schedule in at least 1-2 hours of non-negotiable free time into your calendar. No unnecessary meetings, no phone on the table, no email inbox open!
Get to Work Early
Need to find more time in the day? Then start getting up earlier. It’s a great way to organise your to-do list, respond to emails to power through work uninterrupted, before the rest of the world has made it to their desks!
Exercise First Thing
If you’re not a natural early bird, getting to the gym at 6am might seem insane. But we often find that squeezing in an early morning workout gives us the energy we need to power through the morning. Endorphins = energy.
Easier said than done, especially for any self-proclaimed control freaks! But remember that not everything that you need to be done has to be done yourself. Ask yourself; what tasks on your list could be better done by somebody else? By asking for help from a colleague or intern, it’ll mean you can give your full attention to what’s really important.
Get It Down on Paper
Getting caught in your head = feeling overwhelmed = productivity plummets. When your mind won’t stop racing and things seem too much, have a brain dumping session where you write down everything you’re working on, need to do or are thinking about. It’s a good opportunity to assess the full picture and realign your list of priorities – meaning sure you’re being as efficient as possible.
A mid-afternoon sugar crash isn’t going to help anyone step up their game and reach their goals. Keep your energy levels stable by eating plenty of vegetables, whole grains and protein and avoiding too many refined sugars. The short spike of energy will only have you napping at your desk, trust us.
It doesn’t work. In fact, when we multi-task it usually takes us longer to complete a task because we’re not giving enough attention to it, and our minds are going back and forth from one thing to another. Sometimes you’ve got to take a step back to move forward – so slow down a little to speed up your workflow.
Plan for Interruptions
Try all you might to be focused, there will always be something to interrupt you. Plan some flexibility into your day, so that if your schedule gets disturbed, your whole day won’t get thrown out of whack. There’s nothing worse than planning your diary to the minute, only to have it descend into chaos.
Ditch Commitments That Waste Your Time
When things get too much, one of the best ways to gain back more time is to say no to those commitments that only waste your time. If it won’t help you reach your goals, politely decline - it's really as simple as that.
Going in circles around a point, unable to make a decision, is not going to be beneficial to your productivity. Follow your gut, make a decision, stick with it and move on.
The worst thing you can do for your productivity? Skimp on sleep. It might mean you’re in the office by 7, but it doesn’t mean you’re being efficient. Everyone’s different, but getting roughly 7-9 hours of sleep every night will have a positive impact on just about everything – from your training performance to your mental health and even your ability to remain focused.