If improving your productivity is not easy, there are all the same different ways to achieve it. Start by making small changes in your habits and stick to them until these behaviors become natural to you. Once you take the plunge, you can embrace bigger changes and get bigger results.
Part 1 of 3: Work more efficiently
Step 1. Effectively set your priorities
Working efficiently is the secret to increased productivity. If you have multiple tasks to complete, prioritize them so you can stay active and work hard. We don't all work the same, but these few tips could help you be more productive.
- Be aware that it's usually best to start with the tasks you don't like. If you finish all the activities that you like at the start of the day, you'll tire yourself out and put off less fun tasks until the next day.
- Avoid constantly switching from one project to another. When possible, focus entirely on a single task, until you finish it. And when you need to divide your attention, spend at least an hour on one task before switching it up. Spending a few minutes on a task between two other projects is a very inefficient way of working.
Step 2. Take short, frequent breaks
If you never take a break, you'll tire more quickly. To stay focused and sharp, your brain needs rest. As soon as you feel tired or have accomplished an important task, take a break for a few minutes. Go for a walk, drink a glass of water, chat with a colleague.
- During your breaks, avoid activities that will prevent you from getting back to work. Facebook sessions or TV breaks, in particular, will tend to drag on.
- If you tend to get overwhelmed with your work, set your alarm to take a break every hour or two.
Step 3. Organize your time
Set yourself a realistic work schedule, using a diary, electronic or physical. You will be able to see your projects come true, step by step, which will push you to continue your efforts.
- Plan your lunch breaks and short coffee breaks into your schedule.
- While you're just getting into this habit, just plan for one day at a time. And at the end of each working day, take a few moments to write down everything you need to do the next day.
Step 4. Promise yourself rewards to motivate yourself
Set long-term and short-term goals, then reward yourself for each goal you accomplish. For small purposes, like tidying up the kitchen or any other small task, treat yourself to an ice cream or half an hour of cocooning. For bigger goals, like getting a degree or a promotion, reward yourself with a vacation or weekend adventure.
Step 5. Avoid dragging your plans
Do your best to get the job done, but avoid spending more time on it than necessary. Quick professional results will be appreciated more than more complete work delivered too late. Only spend the night on a project when absolutely necessary, for the most important projects.
Part 2 of 3: Create an efficient workspace
Step 1. Tidy up your workspace
If your desk is hidden under a mountain of papers, take 15 or 30 minutes to tidy it up every day. This very productive activity will take you little time and will greatly improve your efficiency. Here are some tips that might help you:
- all the items you use often should be prominently displayed and accessible without you having to get up,
- if you often forget where your belongings are, label your drawers and other storage,
- put everything back in its place after using it.
Step 2. Isolate yourself
If you work in a busy place where you are constantly interrupted, move to a more isolated location. If that isn't possible for you, try working alongside positive, productive people who push you to do your best. Avoid people who are not actively working or who are constantly looking to relax.
If you work on a computer most of the time, consider printing some documents so that you can sit in a quieter place to work
Step 3. Limit Electronic Distractions
If you mainly work on a computer or with a phone, this might be difficult. Turn off any electronic devices you don't need to work anyway, and follow these steps to avoid getting distracted:
- block websites that distract you,
- close all non-essential sites,
- if you must remain reachable by phone and then cannot switch it off, remember to deactivate the wifi in order to slow down your connection,
- if you tend to get distracted by video games or other software, create a computer account that will only be dedicated to your work.
Step 4. Ditch the paper for electronics
If you waste a lot of time looking for papers, switch to electronics! Most banks and other services offer an online billing service. If you are working on paper, suggest the idea of electronic copies to your supervisor.
As a last resort, scan the documents in PDF format yourself
Step 5. Establish a reliable filing system
Whether you need to file electronic or physical documents, create a system that lets you intuitively access those files. Use the same type of names for all of your files and keep your documents in clearly labeled folders.
The name of each file could for example begin with the current date, in DDMMYY format, with the name of the client or with the title of the project
Part 3 of 3: Improve your mental and physical alertness
Step 1. Have regular sleep schedules
Having regular sleep schedules is essential to being able to stay lively and productive throughout the week. Even on days when you're not working, get up and go to bed as much as possible at your usual hours.
Step 2. Eat healthy
Your diet should be high in protein, healthy fats, vitamins, healthy carbohydrates, and fiber. By consuming foods high in sugars (such as fast foods, processed foods, and desserts), your blood sugar levels will then drop sharply, making it difficult for you to have energy to finish your day.
Keep healthy snacks in a desk drawer, especially if you tend to procrastinate when going for a snack
Step 3. Beware of caffeine
Coffee and energy drinks will keep you energized for the moment, but then you will suffer a period of listlessness. Then consume these drinks in small quantities or reserve them for special occasions. By consuming caffeine every day, you will risk becoming addicted to it and will need to drink it to feel lively. If you think you are already addicted to caffeine, try to quit it so that you can work more effectively.
Step 4. Play sports
To stay healthy and feel energized, exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Just standing while you work or going out for a walk during your breaks can help you feel more alert.
Step 5. Relax
After your day's work is done, take some time to relax. Make sure you take time out from work, whether it's going out with your friends or just staying quiet at home.
To avoid burnout, take a day off every now and then. Hire a babysitter or pose for a day off
Step 6. Don't neglect your emotions
Ignoring your personal problems won't make them go away. Your emotions are felt in your work and during difficult times you will not be able to concentrate 100%. When possible, try to resolve your problems. And in the meantime, free your mind from your personal problems before you start your work day, by practicing meditation, chatting with a friend or playing sports.