Every week starts with the best intentions; this time you’ll double productivity and quality. You won’t get distracted, no matter how shiny something is. But “shiny” comes in many forms; the coworker who needs help on a project, a friend with a personal emergency, or unexpected emails to replied to. And, oh, the most crippling “shiny” of all… The Internet sings its siren song of cat videos, and then hours have passed with you not having completed the workload in mind.
It happens to us all, but there are ways to overcome this. With five special techniques, you can bring your focus to heel, boost your motivation to succeed, and end the day feeling accomplished – about work, not your Tetris high score.
Here are these five easy ways:
1. Mentally prepare yourself.
- Place yourself in the mindset to enjoy work.
Rather than thinking about how much work must be done and how much you want it over with, focus on the work itself and what elements you enjoy. By focusing solely on “after work,” you are making your workload something to be dreaded and muscled through. If you enjoy your work, your productivity will be greater and so will your quality. Clear your mind and set yourself in the spirit of enjoying your workday; tackling the challenge and not overcoming the burden.
2. Physically prepare yourself.
- Eat a solid breakfast.
More cereal commercials than can be counted – or for the sake of our sanity, should be counted – have stated that starting the day off with a hardy breakfast is the key to a productive day. Just as a car needs fuel to run properly, the body requires sustenance to bring all systems online. By eating a good breakfast before work, you’re beginning your day with a mind that is energized, alert, and functioning at maximum capacity.
Many leading experts recommend exercising in the mornings before work. This releases chemicals like endorphins into your body which are designed to boost alertness, feelings of positivity, and creativity. On a biological level, you are starting up all your body’s systems and telling them to prepare to hit the ground running.
3. Create a thorough schedule
- Divide the work properly.
Be sure to cut the work down into bite sizes. Use a calendar or day-planner to write down all the tasks that need to be completed, and then divide these tasks according to deadlines, their size, and how fast you can complete them. By doing so, you are setting yourself on a strict course, ensuring you take the right actions at the right times. If you are balancing multiple projects, this is crucial to properly multitasking. This also prevents the need to handle an entire task in a single day, either burning yourself out or failing to accomplish it.
- Be specific.
Be very detailed in scheduling out not only the week but the day. Schedule each project, each client you must speak with, and every detail you can foresee in the workday. This can even include when you take your breaks or make personal calls. Even if you are a more freelance-type worker, preferring not to schedule down to the minute, having these thorough schedules will serve as a rough guideline to keep you on track.
- Reply to all emails and calls immediately.
When returning to work, it’s important to ground yourself and see where all the pieces are on the chessboard before you begin. Over the course of the weekend, details may have changed, new projects may have developed, and unforeseen troubles may have arisen, so be sure to respond to all your correspondences immediately. By doing so, you are setting things in motion, which will continue in motion after you begin your actual work. This prevents situations where, for example, clients decide they don’t need your services after all, though you’ve already finished the project.
- Address correspondence based on their deadlines and importance.
Reconnecting can be a daunting task, especially if your inbox looks more like a mob – pitchforks included – than a group of emails. Just as you divide your work based on significance, you should reply to emails and voicemails based on the project, its importance, and how soon the deadline is. This will give you focus and ensure each project is handled on time, rather than being left behind due to a bottleneck.
5. Stay Focused.
- Start with the biggest and most important projects.
You begin your workday full of energy, and that energy is essential for handling large tasks that would be too great at the end of the day. This also applies to the week; be sure to handle the largest workloads in the beginning of the week, before you start craving the weekend and lose motivation. In addition to keeping you focused and productive, it ensures you don’t reach the end of the day or week to find yourself overwhelmed and unable to finish a project.
- Postpone distractions
As distractions arise, it can be easy to think “oh, this will only take a minute,” and stop work. However, this is crippling to productivity. Momentum is a vital key to productivity and any time your concentration is broken, you lose momentum. If the distraction is not vital, such as a client emailing you about an immediate project, then cast it aside and plan to address it later. For example, if your coworker wishes to speak to you about something irrelevant to that workday or project, inform them that you can’t speak right then and schedule a time to speak with them later. Be sure to write down these little distractions in your “reminders” list so they can be addressed later.
We all work for a living, and we all wish to work at our best. With these five helpful tips, you’ll have started your work week off as energized and prepared for your tasks as possible.
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