This isn’t about creating new seasonal induced resolutions (Why I did not publish this in January) that you hope to accomplish with little planning on how to achieve those promises that eventually fade away. This is about figuring out ways to become more productive and creating good habits at work that will continue. And I know we are bombarded with technology that distract us, so I listed a few technology centered ideas to help keep you focus. Fight fire with fire, right?
- Silence or Turn off your mobile devices. Your customers spend an average of 3 seconds scanning your email marketing campaigns before closing out or continuing to engage, which is about the same amount of time you can become distracted and twice as likely to make a mistake after resuming back to work. Mute or silence your phones so you aren’t likely to become a victim of distraction. I turn my phone to silent and place it screen down on my desk.
- Assess and Simplify. Is there a big presentation or project and you feel overwhelmed? Take a deep breath and break it down. Make small goals within that project to get portions of it done at a time, and commit yourself to a deadline of those individual tasks. Buffer your dates a day if you need to, because life can happen. Prioritize. I can’t say this enough. My anxiety will creep up if I do not break down tasks and create a list that I will stick to, with high priority at the top. This will help my brain focus on one task at a time and will often create quality work. Don’t rush yourself.
- Train to Reward Yourself. Don’t be afraid to take 5-10 minute breaks when you feel mentally fatigued. You won’t be productive anyways. Stand up and go to the break room, grab a glass of water or hot tea. Go outside and take a lap around the building. Start with small increments of concentration with breaks in between, and work your way up. Do 20 minutes of uninterrupted work and reward yourself with a 5 minute break. My rewards are often diving into cooking forums and perusing recipes of what I will cook that evening. Everyone has a vice.
- Know your weaknesses. Do you always have Facebook open on a tab? Close it down. Each time you have a moment you will click over and 15 minutes will have gone by. Procrastinator? Create a list with your tasks broken down to simpler tasks. Office chatterbox? (guilty!) Put in earbuds to help block out noise and discourage yourself from starting conversations.
- Avoid a heavy lunch. Don’t do it. You won’t be productive the rest of the day. Bring snacks like granola and fruit throughout the day to keep you full and focused. I thrive on freeze dried fruit (it’s like candy folks). And stay away from the energy drinks and soda. It’s only a quick sugar high and the crash will leave you useless and counting down the minutes until 5 p.m. Don’t make yourself suffer, you know better.
- Technology to the rescue. We do live in an age where there is an app for that. Embrace it. Use programs like Toggl or the more sophisticated Zoho, where you can time yourself for a project and collaborate with other members on your team. (Zoho even has a gaming feature designed to get your coworkers excited about completing certain tasks! Create a prize, get everyone motivated.) Need a note taking app? Try Google Keep and Evernote that make access easy and a great searchable system to locate notes and keep them organized. Need help concentrating and getting stuff done? Use the Pomodoro technique, a great app designed for time management in 25 minute increments.
There are many ideas and devices out there on the inter-webs designed to help you concentrate and boost your productivity. We all want to thrive and elevate our career path, and dedicating yourself to a productive work ethic is a surefire way to create opportunities overtime. Be consistent and maintain those healthy work habits, you’ll thank yourself later.