Guest post by Michelle Kiss

No one is perfect. Despite knowing that we should exercise regularly, eat healthily, and check off every item on our to-do list, we sometimes still find ourselves in line for a morning donut, yawning from a 1 a.m. bedtime, and thinking about everything else in life besides work.

The good news is you don’t have to plan a perfect day to be your most productive. Grab that donut (and probably some coffee, too) and follow these easy steps to make the most out of your work day.

1.) Start with Something Exciting

Before you peek at your inbox or attack that giant project head-on, do something you enjoy!

Whether that’s work-related or not is up to you. Dive into to your morning yoga sesh, meditate, or savor your best coffee brew at home. If you start the day at the office, kick off your morning with your favorite thing to work on from the day before, or something you are actually looking forward to completing. Don’t let emails or other distractions interfere with your early morning routine.

Getting immersed early on is a great way to stay engaged as you move onto other tasks. Engagement goes a long way. Gallup studies have shown that employees who are more engaged at work are more productive and often perform better. So why not give yourself a head start?

2.) Prioritize Quickly and Accurately

Now that you’re on a roll, prioritize your daily tasks.

This should not be by how long something takes, or how often your co-worker has pinged you for something. There are two things to take into account here, how important something is, and how urgent it is.  

Something that’s both super important and urgent should be at the top of your list! Get these things done pronto.

Anything that’s important is still a priority, even if it’s not insanely urgent. Actively put the most important things first.

Something with high urgency is always hard to get around. It may not be detrimental to you, but when others are relying on you, try to find a good time to work on it, or spread it out throughout the week.

Now for the background noise. Things that aren’t important, or need to be done ASAP, can be put on the backburner for when you have some extra time. This stuff ends up at the bottom of  your to-do list usually, but it’s nice to have there nonetheless on those super productive work days.

3.) Make a Realistic To-do List

Be. Reasonable.

Writing down 14 things that must get done today, and then adding 17 other items “if time” is not a helpful checklist — it’s a nightmare.

It’s also not helpful to write down that massive project as one task. Break larger projects into smaller pieces. You know how quickly you work, so plan adequate time to complete each thing. Don’t forget to include some buffer time to regroup and head into each task with a clear head. Another tactic is to write 2-3 tasks down at a time. Once they are all completed, add another 2-

3.

Not only does this make your day more manageable, you have a better understanding of where your time went. This makes reporting on timesheets more accurate, and planning for future time off a breeze.

4.) If You Procrastinate, Get up Earlier

2:55 p.m. is the least productive time of day at work.

So, why start work at 10 if you can barely get a few hours of solid work done? We are at our most productive in the wee hours of the morning, when distractions are few and far between. Get an entire work day squeezed in before the afternoon lull if you start at 6:00 a.m.

Also, once you’re in the swing of things, you’ll want to keep working. Productivity wanes throughout the day — start strong by starting early, increase the likelihood of getting the most important stuff done, and find yourself in a working mood for longer than usual.

5.) Learn to Monotask

Only about 2% of people can multitask successfully.

This is all about setting up your surroundings to work on one thing at a time. Close out the tabs you don’t currently need, pause checking emails, and put your phone on sleep mode or away completely. Make it harder to access tempting distractions, and you’ll find yourself concentrating better.

Even 10 minutes of pure focus will be beneficial toward completing something. If the work is truly monotonous, or you seem to be drifting off regardless, take a walk around the block or grab a snack or beverage. Preferably do this without your phone, so you don’t find yourself scrolling through animal Instagrams and looking up exotic pet laws in your area.

6.) Avoid Interruptions and Distractions (at All Cost!)

Sound easy enough? It’s not!

Most office distractions are some form of noise. Whether it’s other coworkers or loud sounds around, you can’t control it. Although, you can limit how much you’re exposed to, and take a couple of precautionary steps to avoid as much of it as possible.

When you really need to buckle down, turn off your ping notifications. Put on headphones to block out sound and make it clear to others that you are actively working. Book a conference room or find a secluded, quiet area to work from. If there’s really a lot to do, consider working from home. Either way, taking a few simple steps to minimize the amount of daily interruptions and distractions encountered will result in more productive work days.

Of course, don’t forget to reward yourself! If you set an alarm for 5:30 a.m., and you got up, get yourself that favorite coffee drink. If you completed a goal of 30 minutes of uninterrupted work, let yourself check your phone or go enjoy a quick chat.

Small rewards go a long way, and can boost your motivation for productivity even further!

About the Author: Michelle Kiss is a digital marketing specialist from clicktime who focuses on employee productivity, business process management, and marketing automation. She currently resides in San Francisco, California. Follow her on Twitter @MichelleKissCA.


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