Have you ever had those experiences at work where you swear the day is almost over and see that only an hour has passed since you started? Then there are times you’re so engrossed in a project that the time flew by before you knew it!
The reality is that the pace of time doesn’t change. It’s how you approach each task that matters. When you’re focused on what you’re doing, you get more done faster.
This, in turn, lets you feel like you have more time in your day. You’re spending it in disciplined ways that allow you to juggle everything on your to-do list and have time left over!
When you learn how to maximize your working hours, your productivity increases substantially. Ready to get started? Follow these four tips for the best results!
1. Know Your Body
Fighting against bad habits is one thing. It’s another story completely if you’re attempting to shift things that are inherently you. Why not accept them instead and use them to your advantage?
For instance, maybe you have anxiety, which keeps you from starting new tasks because you’re worried that you won’t do them right or fail. Rather than ignoring those feelings and trying all the “things” to make this part of your personality disappear, accept that this is a natural factor in your routine.
You can talk to your doctor about suggestions that could help reduce your anxiousness and focus, like medical marijuana. (If you’re in Pennsylvania, this information by Veriheal is helpful.)
But until you’re ready to take medical advice, recognize when you’re feeling anxious and why you’re worried. Walk through what you’re concerned about, give yourself permission to freak out for five minutes (set a timer if you must), then move on.
2. Do the Hard Things First
There’s a productivity method that many successful business owners use called “Eat the Frog.” In short, it’s a philosophy that says you should get the hard stuff over with first. Eat the frog first thing in the morning, and the rest of the day is easier.
It’s a quick and simple three-step system. All you must do is:
- List your tasks for the day.
- Identify the hardest one.
- Do that first and knock it out.
The system is proven to work. Keep going back to your list, find the next hardest task, and tackle that one next. Repeat until you’re finished, then do it again the next day!
3. Create a Schedule
Some people must stick to a strict schedule as part of their job. But when you have a whole day in front of you with a list of things to do and no structure, somewhere in there are chunks of wasted time.
To maximize your working hours, you need a planning system broken into three sets: daily, weekly, and long-term. Take your daily tasks, divide them into order of importance (how you’ll “eat the frogs”), and assign a time to each. You may not stick to that schedule perfectly, but you’ll have it as a guide and you can refer to it when you lose focus.
When you get a new task that isn’t due right away, add it to your list for the next week or your long-term project planner. That way, it doesn’t get lost, and you can start working on it when you have extra time after your day’s tasks are completed.
4. Actively Avoid Distractions
Even with the best-laid plans, it’s easy to get distracted if you are not diligent about avoiding them. Think about your day and where your schedule tends to get thrown off-kilter. Is it from something you’re doing? Are there outside influences involved?
Some of the most common distractions are our phones and our co-workers. They’re innocent at first (“Let me see if I got any texts” or “Can I ask you a quick question?”) But they can easily turn into a black hole of wasted time.
To actively avoid distractions, use these tips:
- Keep your phone away from you, preferably on the other side of the room. It’s harder to “accidentally” find it in your hands that way.
- Put a sign on the door or another visible place when you start working, asking to be left alone until your break.
- Put your phone on silent or turn it off entirely.
- Set up time blockers on your computer and phone that don’t allow you to go on social media or do whatever you are distracted by when you know you’re supposed to be working.
Figure out what you are easily distracted by and take steps to try to prevent them from sucking the time out of your day.
When you’ve followed these four productivity tips and conquered the essential tasks on your schedule for the day, you’ll be amazed at how much time you have left to do the things you enjoy.