We all have those days, the ones where we just can’t summon the motivation to complete our normal amount of work. Maybe we’re coming down with a cold. Maybe the little one refused to sleep through the night. Maybe we didn’t have time for a second cup of coffee. Or maybe, inexplicably, we’ve just lost our focus. Those days are bound to happen, but we can do our best to keep them to a minimum. While more and more businesses are making it a priority to foster an environment that allows employees to focus and prevent burnout, ultimately productivity is still each individual’s responsibility.
Make a Plan
At the end of your workday, take the time to sit down and think about what you need to accomplish tomorrow. You don’t have to make a detailed, hour-by-hour plan, but if you can list at least five things that should be accomplished, starting with the most important, you’ll realize that those things start getting done. Plus, having already planned out your work for tomorrow means you can relax at home.
Ah, break time. That wonderful time of day when you know you absolutely must get nothing done. Except some of us really don’t take breaks at work. That’s ok if you have a major deadline to meet, but skipping breaks isn’t something that should happen regularly.
Scheduling breaks prevents you from taking them “accidentally” throughout the day. A long overdue 15-minute break often stretches to half an hour. Better to take a five minute break at the end of each hour, and get back to work with gusto.
Burnout is one of the biggest reasons people miss work. Basically, you’re too stressed to function well on the job. And burnout is on the rise even in historically less-demanding jobs like administrative and accounting positions. It’s is one of the big contributors to low productivity and inattention on the job, both of which are job killers.
Burnout can also put not just your mental health, but your physical health at risk. Jobs like construction or even landscaping can get dangerous if you are too tired or stressed to watch out for common mistakes that could get you injured. A good balance between work and home life can prevent simple mishaps on the job.
Schedule “Busy Work”
Have you ever wasted 75% of your day dealing with cleaning out your e-mail? Most of us have, and the majority of the time that wasn’t the work we really should have been doing. It’s so easy to get lost in meaningless tasks which manage to suck up a great deal of time.
Just like working in breaks, scheduling time for busy work is also important. If you only have 15 minutes to go through your inbox, you’ll probably sort out the important ones a bit faster. Other things are also important, like keeping your desk organized. Taking five minutes at the end of each work day to organize helps you eliminate mess, stress and forgotten paperwork.
Walk it Out
Your doctor isn’t the only one who’s recommending you get more exercise. New research suggests that an active lifestyle helps to boost your productivity. One study even saw a boost in productivity from people who just walked while working.
Common sense tells us that exercise helps to eliminate stress and tires out our bodies to match our tired brains. It boosts endorphins and allows you to concentrate on the task at hand, instead of getting sidetracked by snack time, coffee time or cleaning time.
It isn’t a surprise to anyone that companies are always looking for ways to increase productivity. While your age and education level do have some effect on productivity, most of it comes down to simple planning and time management. So, make some plans and keep your desk clean, and if you’re looking for some additional information on how to manage your productivity, you can check out the infographic below. You’re likely to find additional strategies you may not have thought of, and hey, your ten-minute break isn’t up quite yet!