Organizing for productivity: 4 tips for minimizing distractions
Thursday, August 06, 2015
Courtesy Fast Company
The typical workday is eight hours. Most people will say they wish they could work less, but in reality, we wish there were more hours in the day so we could get more done.
With technology, we thought we would be able to get more done. In some ways that is true — we are able to accomplish more tasks. But at the same time, we are now expected to complete more tasks than ever before.
So now, we are practically in the same position were in before technology — needing more hours in the day to complete an increased workload. Without the ability to put more hours in the day, you need to adjust your work and life to make you the most productive person you can be.
You can increase your productivity by organizing your life — at home, at work, everywhere. If your life is disorganized, your mind will be disorganized, decreasing your productivity.
Create a to-do list and keep up with your calendar
We briefly went over to-do lists and calendars at the beginning of this series, but this is one step that will keep you focused. A to-do list is a great way to keep track of things that need to be done quickly — within a day or two.
Place any tasks that need to be done on this to-do list. This list should not contain solely work-related items, it should be a complete to-do list: life and work. It allows you to clear your mind of the things you need to do outside of work to focus on what needs to be done at work.
Your list can be typed or written. I personally prefer typing my to-do list because I am constantly on my computer. However, some people prefer to take their to-do list with them, and some people feel they will remember the tasks better if they physically write it down.
Your calendar should be the same way — complete with upcoming work and life events. Setting reminders for events is also a great way to keep yourself focused. Instead of constantly reviewing your calendar to make sure you aren’t missing an event, you can complete your work and wait for the calendar to remind you.
Stop working — for a few minutes
According to research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, "a new study overturns a decades-old theory about the nature of attention and demonstrates that even brief diversions from a task can dramatically improve one's ability to focus on that task for prolonged periods."
If you work too hard for too long, you can actually lose focus. Taking breaks during long stretches of work can increase your productivity by clearing your mind.
Take a walk, chat with a co-worker, read an article that has nothing to do with what you are working on, daydream. Do something to relax and clear your mind for a few minutes.
Keep a notepad handy — and take notes of everything
Your life is constantly changing, at work and at home. New projects, new partners, new employees, new responsibilities. You might think "oh, I’ll never need that information again" or "I'll remember that."
In reality, are you sure you won’t need it again? And, are you sure you’re going to remember that information two weeks (and hundreds of new facts) later?
If you had written it down, you would. The best way to avoid forgetting something important you were told about is to write it down. Keep a notepad with you at all times. When you make a phone call, take notes. When you are in a meeting, take notes. This way, if something comes up, you have something to reference.
Stop working 15 minutes before you leave work
This doesn't mean shut down your computer at 4:45 so you can get out of the door before the rush. This 15 minutes should be designated to making sure all tasks are done for the day.
Take a final look over your to-do list. Check your emails. Check in with your superior at work and make sure everything is done. Take this 15 minutes to wind down and finalize your day. If you work up until the very last second and then rush out of the door, you are likely to skip over something — and that something could be extremely important.
An organized computer and workspace is the start to a productive employee. However, in order to be the most productive employee you can be, you must keep your mind focused at work by organizing your entire life.
Is it time for you to take a 15-minute break?
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