Whether you are still working from home or are back in the office, these five productivity hacks are small changes that have the potential for some major time saving!
1. Stop multi-tasking.
Multi-tasking is like doing karaoke when you’re drunk: you’re not doing it as well as you think you are. Studies have shown that multi-tasking is actually a really bad idea for your productivity, as it lowers your ability to perform both of the tasks you are trying to execute. In fact, only about 2% of the world’s population is actually capable of effectively multitasking. Think that might be you? Take into consideration that another study found that people who believe they are great at multi-tasking usually are the absolute worst at it. So stick to focusing on one task at a time, okay?
2. Make a to-do list with some wiggle room.
We’ve all been there: we get to work with an idea of what we want to get accomplished throughout the day, and then somehow 20 other things pop up. You’re torn between what to do first and you end up half-doing a bunch of other things (this goes back to our point in #1!). A way to solve that problem? When you get to work make a to-do list that has some space for the surprises likely to pop up in your day. Write down the tasks you want to get done, the estimated time you think you’ll need to do them, and then schedule 15-30 minutes of time for “pop-up” tasks that show up throughout your day.
3. Take (timed) breaks.
You will be way more productive at work if you give yourself some short breaks throughout the day. And by breaks, we don’t just mean pausing to have a snack or grab a cup of coffee. Small, frequent breaks throughout the workday are necessary to keep your mind sharp and your morale up. So every 25-30 minutes schedule, set your timer for a 5 minute break. Stand up and stretch, meditate a little, maybe even watch a funny video on your phone. Just make sure to stick to the timer so your short productivity break doesn’t turn into something unproductive (like scrolling through social media for 20 minutes).
4. Ask yourself: what is the most important thing I should do today? And then do that first.
So often when a task seems too big or important, we’ll put it off until the last minute. Now that many of us are still working-from-home, the temptation to put off a big task can be even greater. Not only is this a self-sabotaging behavior, but it also brings a sense of dread and “I didn’t do enough at work today” vibes into your week. The solution? Thing about that big/scary/tedious task you’ve been avoiding, and do it first. Not only will you feel accomplished for having finished it, you’ll also feel way less stressed for the rest of your day.
5. Stop checking your email every 5 minutes!
Checking emails are the quickest ways we can get sidetracked at work. What starts out as a harmless scan for replies we’re waiting on can turn into realizing we need to send out another email, reading and replying to people in our inbox, going to research that thing someone just emailed you about and (and this happens to me all the time) you jump from your email to your web browser and somehow end up scrolling on some random website for the next 15 minutes. Yea, not the greatest thing to do when you’re trying to be productive with your time. A better idea? Schedule 2-3 times in your workday to read, send and reply to your emails (when you get to work, after lunch and half an hour before leaving is generally a good rule of thumb. Make them 15 minutes max and then get on with the work you have planned for your day.