The pace of the world is swifter than ever before, and along with that comes a work environment that is highly demanding and must be adapted to with each new day. While it is quite common for many people to struggle with their schedules and the day-to-day work that threatens to overtake them, there are a variety of easy-to-do methods that have the ability to improve the way work is approached each day and what can be accomplished within it. If you seem to be falling behind lately and are wondering how to stay on top of your tasks, here some tips that will help you see the light at the end of the work week.
Decide On A Daily Strategy
We all have moments at the office where we’re feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated, and this can often mean that we rush headlong into the flow of work without really considering what must be prioritized and what can be put off until a little later. Instead of getting waylaid by your in-box or what your boss has plopped down in front of you, set a few minutes aside at the start of each day to really get yourself configured and determine what you’d like to accomplish before finishing time. This might seem like a futile task given the almost assured barrage of emails and phone calls, but being aware of exactly what’s on your plate will keep you focused on the target so that you’re prepared, no matter what else happens to unfurl in front of you.
Re-Consider Your Snack Choices
Whether it happens to be a sugary coffee early in the day or a mid-afternoon donut, few things will have a more marked effect on the way you feel than what you choose to put into your body. It’s often the case that a sweet treat or salty snack can provide a brief escape from the office - and the promise of an instant lift - but these food items can actually weigh you down, both mentally and physically, and cause your body to crash rendering productivity impossible. Instead of the unhealthy options that will only give you a quick burst of energy, you may want to consider packing items like fruit, vegetables, nuts or even granola bars which will provide nutrition until the next meal but won’t unbalance your body and lead to exhaustion or office malaise.
Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Whether they’ve experienced them or heard the stories, everyone’s aware of the coffee and caffeine pills that have enabled many a student to get through their finals, but when it comes to work pushing your way through it isn’t necessarily the best strategy. It certainly seem like productivity can be a matter of more hours worked and less post-professional life, but you’ll actually be a better employee if you get the proper amount of sleeping hours instead! While the metric for ideal sleeping time has traditionally been 8 hours, recent research from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the Sleep Research Society has suggested otherwise. According to AASM president and panel moderator Nathaniel F. Watson, “Sleeping six or fewer hours per night is inadequate to sustain health and safety in adults…seven or more hours of sleep per night is recommended for all healthy adults.”
Discuss It Face-To-Face
With the commonality of email when it comes to resolving workplace issues and providing clarity, it’s become a bit of a foreign concept to actually engage in face-to-face time with your co-workers; however, this can actually save a lot of valuable time every single day! All of us have suffered through those email strings that go on for days and accomplish little in the way of a solution, so if you have the option, forget about the “Send” button and make time for a quick chat. This will allow you to address the issues head-on and you won’t have to worry about wasting a lot of time on editing. Keep in mind that if you like to have things in print, you still have the option of sending an email afterwards to clarify your conversation and follow-up on any loose threads that were left hanging.
Delegate The Small Stuff
It can feel empowering, no matter how oversized your workload is, to be able to handle it all on your own, but simply because it’s almost manageable, it doesn’t mean that you should take it all on. While deciding to do all tasks great and small can make you feel important, it’s possible that your energy is being divided on less-important matters, so you may want to consider moving the things you can off of your plate. Whether you have an assistant you can hand the task off to or an eager co-worker, this will enable you to put more energy and focus into the tasks that should really command more of your energy. According to a study completed by the University of Sussex, those who multitask constantly have a lower brain density in the part of their brain responsible for cognitive control, so delegating can actually be a good thing for your brain!
Avoid Meeting Madness
We’ve all been in the kind of boardroom meetings where it seems like everything that’s accomplished could have been sorted with a few short emails, but meetings are still a pretty typical aspect of daily office life and can be pretty hard to avoid. Instead of getting bogged down by a slew of random meetings that you have to attend, try to arrange them in blocks of time so that you’re not skipping out of one, working for 30 minutes, and then heading into another. It may often be the case that your co-workers won’t be able to schedule their meetings around you, but you also have the option of seeing if they can give you the lowdown after the meeting is over or even if they’re willing to send you the minutes for your own reference.
Don’t Get Device Distraction
The smart phone has become a fixture of the business world, and it’s not uncommon to see everyone staring at their phones on an elevator or standing on the street. However, in the office, whether you’re waiting for your friend to text back about a lunch meet-up or surfing the web, the work time that can inadvertently be used up by playing on your phone is time that you won’t get back. It might seem hard at first, but instead of avoiding the problem, set aside a few minutes every few hours for reading your texts or checking your favorite website. A minute or two here and there might not seem like much, but putting limitations on how distracted you are by your device can make a huge difference in the amount of work that’s left over at the end of the day.
Take An Exercise Break
It’s quite common when the paper on the desk is overflowing to think that working through lunch is non-negotiable, but if sticking to the course and staying focused is your goal, taking a bit of a breather for some fresh air and exercise will actually enable you to re-tool. Whether it happens to be mid-morning or late afternoon, set aside at least 15 minutes each day to step out of the office and walk around the block for a bit of fresh air. It’s not the length of time that counts, but the time away from the screen that can make all the difference. While working straight through may make you feel like you’ll be able to get ahead of the work, a study by the app, DeskTime, found that the highest performing 10 percent of workers tended to take a 17-minute break after 52 minutes of work!
When the office is a little busier, the workplace can be more stressful and taxing than usual, and these are often the moments when it’s hard to be as productive as you might like. While it’s important to have patience with yourself and realize that you can only do so much, doing daily checks-ins with your workload and making time each day for a break can have a huge impact on your productivity by the week’s end. It may seem like taking the time to re-tool is working time that’s wasted, but this can actually assist you in streamlining your tasks and may make you a more efficient – and well-rounded! – employee.