Nobody wants to spend extra time at work, but getting everything done in a workday can seem monumental, if not impossible, especially in our digital age when it can feel like we’re on-call 24/7. The key to a happier and more efficient workday is to increase your level of productivity. This means taking a long hard look at how you actually spend your time at work, and then strategically eliminating all of those unnecessary time suckers that you get roped into day in and day out. In addition, planning ahead and setting limits for yourself can go a long way towards getting more done in a shorter amount of time.
Here are 5 steps you can start incorporating today to get more done without logging in any extra hours:
- Prioritize: This is one of those deceptively simple sounding tips. We often think we know how to prioritize projects and tasks, but actually taking the time to visually prioritize your week is an important step toward being more productive. This includes eliminating many overlooked time suckers such as meetings that aren’t important to your actual job. If your presence or input isn’t essential, and you won’t get anything out of it, just say no.
- To-do list: Simple, yes. Effective, yes. Done correctly, often no. A simple to-do list can do wonders for your productivity because the process of writing it means you’re already prioritizing your tasks and writing down only the things that absolutely need to get done. To be most effective, write your to-do list at the end of the workday so that you can meet the next morning head-on, without wasting time trying to figure out what to do first. Set a weekly to-do list so that by Friday afternoon you have worked on all of your most important tasks.
- Move: Standing and/or walking once an hour is a great way to increase your energy and make you more productive. Experts suggest standing for 10 minutes every hour to counteract the negative affects of sitting at a desk. This can include walking to a meeting, walking while on a call, or standing while you discuss matters with a co-worker. If you need to, set a timer to remind yourself to get up and move.
- Take breaks: Humans simply aren’t designed to work for 4 hours straight, take a huge break for lunch, and then work another 4 hours without any additional breaks. Take short mental breaks by chatting with a co-worker or just walking around. These breaks are essential for clearing your head and working out ideas.
- Schedule email time: Email has been great for our global business world because so much can be done instantly. However, constantly checking and responding to your email can end up dominating your day if you let it. Set aside certain times of day when you check your email, and do your best to stick to your schedule. And don’t check your email once you have left the office unless there’s a specific reason. Giving yourself time to rejuvenate after work is essential for having a productive workday.
Incorporating these simple but effective steps into your workday will help you get more done without putting in any extra hours.