We’ve all heard the phrase, “Work smarter, not harder” (or as Peter says, “Work smart then hard“). Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how smart or hard you work, odds are that you still may not be able to get all of your daily task completed.
If you are anything like me, you enter your office every morning and tell yourself that today is going to be more productive than the day before. But as we all know, all it takes is one distraction and hours can be consumed on one project… hours that could have been spent doing more valuable things with your time.
We all want to increase productivity and efficiency in the way we handle our daily task. However, staying on task can be a difficult thing to achieve. This is especially true in today’s digital age where we have everything that we need at the touch of a finger. Most of us feel that it is awesome that every email comes directly to your cell phone or tablet. The problem is that we also think that the video of the cat playing the piano is just as awesome. Some of us might even spend more time on the cat video than our current task. Well, maybe that is just me….
But despite my tendency to traverse the internet finding all of the latest cat videos, I’ve put together a few tips that have helped me get a hold on the day and stay on track. Hopefully they will help you too.
How to Avoid Distractions and Increase your Productivity and Efficiency:
1. Be mentally prepared
Everyone needs time to recharge, so it is important that you get a good night’s sleep to assist you in being mentally prepared for your work day. This is especially important if you have had a rough day which perhaps left you with some undone task.
In the past, I have been notorious for carrying my work “baggage” over into the next day, so I decided to try something new. When I have follow up task from the previous day, I try to view each one as a new task that needs to be tackled. By doing this, I leave yesterday’s problems behind and work on fresh new ways to get the job done.
I believe that everyone should take advantage of their cleared head. Sometimes looking at projects through fresh eyes will shed an entirely different light on a subject. Being prepared both mentally and physically will definitely give you the head start needed to be more productive in your work day.
Prioritizing works best when you understand how you work. Some people like to do easier tasks first in order to get them out of the way, while others like to work the more difficult tasks first. The key to prioritizing is making your decisions based on the “urgency” of the task. You may have several task assigned, but believe me, they are not all equal.
Remember, not everything is a crisis. By prioritizing your work day, you will find that you will get more things done. This will lead to more clicks of that “complete” button in your task manager.
3. Take full advantage of Outlook
Outlook quickly became my best friend when I started trying to manage my time better. A place for all of my contacts, notes, my entire schedule and a task list, (now if it only sold shoes…) Outlook is easy to use and really effective in the time management process.
I am a huge fan of the reminders because they enable me to stay on track in completing my tasks. The program easily syncs with my cell phone so I can stay on top of things. I can check my calendar anytime to see what I have going on and then rearrange things if I have too much on my plate.
4. Take a few minutes for yourself
The trials of the day can sometimes become overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to take some time for yourself during the work day. I’m not just talking about lunch, even a quick walk around the building can change your mood, your attitude, and give you that mental jolt that you might need.
5. Be realistic, learn to say no
There are going to be interruptions throughout your day, so when they come along, be honest. If you feel that you will not be able to handle whatever is being requested in a timely manner, it is ok to say that. A person should not be afraid to say no, it is not rude and there should not be any repercussions.
Unfortunately, when you are trying not to burn any bridges, saying no can be a bit tricky. Presentation is the key. A few keys to the art of saying no:
- Explain why
- Be direct
- Offer alternatives
We should continuously look for ways to do things more efficiently. A good way to start is by eliminating things that are non essential. Remember, ineffectively using the tools that have been provided for you is a sure fire way of wasting time. Effectively managing your time will lead you down the road to a more effective, productive, and stress free life.
Have any other recommendations to stay productive and efficient? Share them in the comments!