Do you ever have workdays when you come into the office, determined to knock out a list of tasks — then, before you know it, the end of the day has rolled around and not only have you barely touched your to-do list, it’s actually gotten longer.
Often, the culprit is too much time spent checking emails, chatting with officemates, or just trying to get organized in the first place. Although every person’s organizational structure is different, a few basic steps will help you get your daily schedule into shape so you can achieve more tasks in less time.
For Part 1, click here. For the final four tips, read on!
Spend less time on to-do lists
This may sound counterintuitive, but your to-do lists may actually be taking up valuable office hours. When you put together your task list, you have to sit down and organize your thoughts when you could actually be working on items on that to-do list. Instead, assemble your list at the end of the workday. With productivity apps like any.do or good old-fashioned pen and paper, keep your to-do list together in one place.
Make your list on the train ride back home, or while you’re waiting for dinner to finish cooking. You can make your list while tasks are still fresh in your mind. If you’re worried about forgetting to mark down an item from earlier that day, keep a Post-It on you and jot down quick notes, but wait until the end of the day to put it all together in an organized list.
Restrict social media time
In a Salary.com 2014 survey, 89% of office workers self-reported wasting time at work each day, and 23% of those employees spent their time on Facebook. More and more companies are embracing social media in the office, but if you find yourself checking Facebook 15 times a day, self-imposed restrictions may boost your productivity.
If you find yourself instinctively reaching for the Facebook app or your Pinterest bookmark, try removing them from your home screen so you don’t see the temptation. Browser extensions like StayFocusd can also help you stay away from distractions. You don’t have to disconnect completely from social media, but find a method that works for you.
Use lunch to get back on track
After you have restricted your social media time during working hours, it may be tempting to spend your lunch hour on social media. A few minutes on Facebook or Twitter are completely fine, but try not to get sucked into social media for your entire lunch. This is the perfect opportunity to catch up with coworkers and talk about non-work related things.
You can spend lunch recalibrating for the afternoon portion of the workday, and it’s always good to give your eyes a break from a screen. What’s more, if you and your colleagues catch up over lunch, you won’t feel the need to interrupt working hours with a story about what you and your buddies did over the weekend.
Know your limits to prevent burnout
Burnout is defined as physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress. You might feel pressured to work through piles of tasks without a break in sight, but if you aren’t careful, you can burn yourself out. When you are burned out, your productivity plummets, and you run out of energy to commit to your other projects.
Burnout can happen over the course of a day, or even over a year. When you can feel stress closing in, don’t be afraid to stand up and take a walk. Clear your head and come back to your work refreshed. If you experience burnout over a long period, schedule your vacation days in advance so you can have a few days to decompress. When you let yourself refresh for work, your productivity increases dramatically and the quality of your output is better!
Barry Eisenman of Nutis Press contributed content to this article. Nutis’ expertise is rooted in designing innovative point-of-purchase displays and retail merchandising solutions. We help brand manufacturers get their products noticed and engage consumers.