Do you ever get to the end of your work day and feel like you’ve accomplished nothing? You were busy all day, even worked through lunch, yet you were unable to get it all done. If this sounds like your typical workday, you are not alone. In fact, the average worker loses about 2.2 hours of productivity a day. The good news is that you can change all of that by analyzing your day and using your time more wisely. Like the old adage says, “Work smarter, not harder.” Here are some ways that you can maximize the hours in your day and become more productive.
1. Work During Your Peak Times
Are you an early bird or a night owl? You can probably answer that question without even thinking about it. Some people get out of bed before the sun is up and are ready to go, others don’t get started till noon but can work all night. The good news is that it doesn’t really matter which one you are. What matters is that you take full advantage of whatever time of day you are at your best.
If you have a project that requires you to be sharp, focused, and creatively on point, try to manipulate your schedule so that you can work on it at your optimal time. You can try to artificially replicate your optimum time by pumping yourself full of caffeine, but you probably already know that doesn’t typically produce your best work. When you work during your natural peak times, you will expend less energy and still be able to maintain your focus and creativity.
2. Silence Your Phone
Phones have evolved into mini supercomputers and they have the ability to keep you connected 24/7. If you happen to own a smart watch, your phone doesn’t even have to be in your hand. Information on every imaginable topic is literally at your fingertips. You can even communicate hands-free using voice-to-text.
All of that connectivity is great right? It is, unless it distracts you from the work you need to get done. If you are like most people, your phone is bombarding you with alerts and notifications almost non-stop. You might find yourself pausing your work so that you can check your phone, and an hour later you realize you were sucked into multiple social media sites or text conversations. There is a simple solution to this. Silence your phone. Now, I know that not being connected to your device might fill you with anxiety, but if you can develop the discipline to set it aside while you are working you will see a significant increase in your productivity. It isn’t necessary to shut it off, just put it on silent so that any notifications you receive will not disturb you. You will be able to focus on the task that needs your attention.
3. Find an Environment that Encourages Work
One of the great things about being an entrepreneur is having the flexibility to work from home or virtually anywhere. I have two dogs that I love dearly, but oftentimes the smaller one wants to be in my face, or on my lap. That is not the best environment for getting work done.
Whether you work from an office, or your home, you need an environment that is as distraction-free as possible. Of course, there is no such thing as zero distractions, but the goal is to limit them as much as you can.
There are days when I can work from home and get a lot accomplished. Then there are days that I feel like I can get nothing done because I’m being interrupted every five minutes. If this happens to you, then you need to find a location where you can go and focus on your work. I have found that my local library is a great place for me to work with minimum distractions. I go in, make myself at home in one of the small cubicles, and get my work done. I prefer the library over a coffee shop because people don’t usually go to a library to socialize. At a coffee shop there are always people looking for conversation, or you may even bump into someone you know. That doesn’t usually happen in a library.
Here are a few tips for a distraction-free work environment:
·TV. Don’t even turn it on. You risk getting sucked into the last show you were binge watching because you want to relive a certain episode that was your favorite.
·Music. If you need some background noise then try some light music. You want to make sure that it won’t put you to sleep, but is calm enough to not distract you.
·Pets. Pets are more than merely pets. They are family. You can’t help but give them attention when they are near. Create a space where they will not distract you or close them out of the room in which you are working.
·Kids. Depending on the age of your children, their level of dependence on you will vary. Naturally , the younger they are the more they need you. Conversely, the older they are the more independent they are. So you will need to schedule your work time to fit in with their schedule.
·Cell Phone. As mentioned before, silence it. You can thank me later.
·Your Spouse. Some spouses are as needy as children J and require a lot of attention. If that is the case you need to schedule your work time and find a space away from them so you can focus.
4. Allow Yourself Breaks
You don’t want to risk burnout by overworking yourself. Allowing yourself to take a break now and then will give your creative juices a chance to recuperate and recharge. How long and how often you take a break will depend on you and your needs. You might take a few fifteen minute breaks throughout the day, or perhaps you would take one, hour-losing break in the middle of your work day. Maybe you’re the kind of person who can grind hard Monday thru Friday, and then recharge on the weekend. The key is to be self-aware and figure out what works best for you.
If implementing these four points all at once seems overwhelming, start out with adjusting only one or two things. Find out what works best for you, and then implant another. Like anything in life if you make too many changes all at once you risk becoming overwhelmed and losing ground. Now get to work!