Last week, you said you’d do everything differently, starting today – start exercising before work, cross those lingering to-dos off your list for good, begin learning that new skill that will take your career to the next level. Now it’s Monday, and you’re thoroughly unprepared to do any of those things. What happened? Well, for starters, you might be thinking too big, especially for a Monday.
(Photo Credit: Jeremie Cremer/Unsplash)
These are a few tiny tweaks to your routine that will yield big gains in productivity in the long run.
1. Work when you’re most productive.
If you keep promising yourself that you’re going to get up earlier and it’s not happening, maybe it’s time to admit that you’re not a morning person. Sacrilege, right?
We revere morning people in American working culture. The internet teems with articles about how this CEO gets up at 4 a.m. and that entrepreneur reads three papers before you’ve gulped down your first hasty cup of coffee. But you know what? There are plenty of successful night owls out there, too.
The goal is to figure out when you do your best work, and plan your heads-down project work for that time, not beat yourself up for being too groggy to brainstorm first thing in the morning.
2. Check email only once or twice a day.
You’ve probably heard this one before, but there’s a reason it crops up so often on lists of productivity hacks. Email is sucking away your precious time, and the less time you devote to it, the better off you’ll be.
By checking once or twice a day – OK, three times max – you’re accomplishing two things: batching tasks, which almost always saves time and energy, and taking back control of your time. If you’re always jumping when your email alert goes off, you’re letting your co-workers determine the structure of your workday, and ironically depriving them of the benefit of your real attention and productive effort.
3. Ration your social media use.
How much time do you spend on Twitter or Instagram each day? If you’re like most of us, the answer probably isn’t, “None.” Every minute you spend on social media is a minute you’re going to be stuck at the office or working on your laptop at home. Use social media sparingly during the day, unless it’s part of your job.
4. Do sprints.
This is a trick beloved of writers, but it works for anyone who does project work. Pick a time in the near future, and work heads-down until then. It can be as little as 15 minutes or as long as an hour, but keep it short and sweet. The goal is to concentrate on one thing and ignore distractions until it’s done.
5. Get outside when it’s light out.
When’s the last time you felt sun on your face in the middle of the week? In the winter, we leave for work before the sun rises and come home after it sets. This is not only kind of a bummer, it’s also not great for our mental or physical health. Make a commitment to get outside for a short period of time each day whenever the weather allows, even if it’s only to walk around the block. It’ll clear your head and perk up your mood, and make it easier to buckle down, once you’re back at your desk.
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What do you do to get back on track? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.