How to be Productive during your work day
Productivity refers to the efficiency of an individual in converting their inputs into useful outputs. Whether you're a top shot at your workplace or an underperforming staff, or perhaps somewhere in between, there is always a common question you keep asking yourself; "how do I improve?", "how can I get better at what I do?", or this all time favorite, "how can I get that promotion?". These kind bugling questions all lead to one ultimate focal point; "How to be Productive during Your Work Day". Solve this and you would have solved every other workplace productivity-related questions.
It is important to note that increasing productivity during your work days is a long-term process that involves consistently forming the right habits. The following steps should essentially help you get on track and eventually become more productive at work on a daily basis.
Step 1: Be Determined, Motivated and Stay Positive
There is no point in wanting to be productive if your heart's not involved. To truly get on track towards being productive, you have to be determined to see it through, you have to be ready to "keep going" even when nothing seems to work. Winston Churchill famously said "success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm" and this applies directly to changing one's habits and becoming productive.
Just as success in any endeavor takes a series of intentional actions or efforts, success in getting productive during your work day will require you to intentionally switch your habits and be determined to carry on until your lifestyle has conformed to the new habits.
Step 2: Get Sufficient Rest
If you're constantly feeling tired especially at work, this is likely to affect your levels of productivity. It's no secret that you feel fresher in the morning after a good night's rest and this also has a huge impact on how productive you'll get to be during your work day.
It is recommended that adults sleep for about 7-8 hours daily and if you're going to get the best from yourself at work then your level of sleep should be around this range or very close.
Apart from sleeping, you should use your rest opportunities at work wisely. It's no use taking very long walks during your lunch breaks at work and it's definitely not the best time for strenuous physical activities. Whether you're having lunch or not, try to take time off work as this would help clear your mind and set you up for a more productive day ahead.
Without the right amounts of rest daily, every other step towards becoming productive during your work day may be futile as you keep turning up for work feeling burnt out. However, when you're well rested, you can think more clearly and come up with creative solutions to problems at work.
Step 3: Eat a Productive Diet
The general saying that you are what you eat applies directly to your daily productivity in your workplace. What you eat is essentially what you'll produce at work so it's important to have the right nutrition that will help optimize productivity at work.
Whilst eating heavy can make you lazy all day at work, eating too lightly will also make you run out of juice too quickly. You should avoid heavy lunches whilst at work as this would leave you literally feeling heavy and worn out when you get back to work. Scientists believe that the human brain works best with about 25 grams of glucose circulating in the blood. A banana also contains similar amounts of sugar or glucose and as a result, it may be ideal to eat one before, after or in between meals to keep the brain working optimally and consequently improve productivity at work.
Step 4: Get Organised
The importance of getting organized in the workplace cannot be overemphasized especially in terms of how it affects productivity. You need to be a better planner and learn to prioritize if you're going to have any chance of being productive during your work day. Plan ahead in terms of what needs to be done at work and when each activity needs to be carried out. Since you're more likely to feel sharper early in the morning, it may be a great idea to focus on the most strenuous tasks in the early hours of your working day and the less strenuous tasks afterward.
If necessary, split your work for the day into segments and keep a detailed track of the time it takes to complete each of these segments with a view to helping you understand what needs improvement or what you need to continue with.
You also need to set goals and targets for your daily routines. This is where an action plan can really come in handy. This will help you become more realistic regarding what your success would look like. Setting the right goals will help you have a sense of purpose and also a sense of achievement when you finally experience improved levels of productivity.
Step 5: Limit Multitasking
Whilst it may sound reasonable to do numerous tasks simultaneously in a bid to getting productive at work, you may be doing more harm than good. Multitasking could be in the form of carrying out multiple tasks simultaneously, switching between them without completing any or carrying out multiple tasks in rapid succession.
This could be harmful because when you start working on any given task and suddenly need to change to another, your mind needs time to change gears and fully switch to the next task and when this process is rushed, your productivity is definitely affected.
The American Psychological Association (2006) believes that switching from one task to another in rapid succession or carrying out numerous tasks simultaneously can be very costly to businesses. This belief is also backed by Mashable who claim that "focusing on more than one thing decreases your productivity by 40% and lowers your IQ by 10 points".
As mentioned earlier, in order to get more done during the day, segment your work into manageable bits and finish them one after the other.
Step 6: Be Proactive
Preventing a fire will always be better than putting it out and so is preventing problems in the workplace. Instead of just allowing the activities of the day to determine what you get up to, it would be more productive to set out your own plan for the day leaving very little room for the activities to sway you. For example, if you easily get distracted by emails or incoming calls, set a time aside for those activities and focus on other tasks.
To be proactive, you have to display excellent time management skills and you'll need to plan a lot in advance. You'll need to prepare for the next day's work in advance and also plan for the day ahead in advance
Whatever your role is, you will definitely save a lot of time and energy by being proactive rather than reactive. If there's a change coming up at your workplace, get acquainted with what it's all about. Become familiar with all that the change brings and be ready to take off with it. A proactive person is hardly ever caught off guard and hardly gets disappointed.
Step 7: Self Appraisal
As you continue to take the above steps one to seven repeatedly, they will become habitual and in order to remain motivated, you need to understand what's working and yielding results and what's simply not. As a result, it is important to carry out a self-appraisal from time to time and even on a daily basis just to see how far along you are in accomplishing your set goals or meeting that deadline.
Carrying out a self-appraisal will also help you see which efforts of yours are yielding positive returns and the areas you really need to concentrate on. This important step of ascertaining where things currently stand with your productivity levels at your workplace should be carried out regularly so you can monitor changes as they occur.
Step 8: Stop Procrastinating
Procrastination is the killer of productivity, the best time to act is always now. If you're always pushing tasks at work aside on a daily basis, you're definitely doing more harm to your productivity levels than good.
As mentioned in steps one to seven above, prioritize your tasks and be determined to see them through. Do not just wait for the deadline to be around the corner before you make a move. Although an adrenaline rush may be beneficial once in a while, you're more prone to errors when you're in a hurry or panicking than when you're calm.
Becoming productive during your work day isn't something that can happen overnight, it takes a series of steps and intentional efforts to finally see it materialize. The above steps and points have been carefully curated to help anyone seeking more daily productivity to conform to better habits that will help boost daily productivity levels.
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