8 Effective Ways to Make the Most of Your Workday
Most studies indicate that across all industries employees are productive for less than 60% of their working hours. In a typical 8-hour 5 day work week, this means organizations lose out on around 2 days of work in a week per employee. And it is proof that there’s a lot of room for improvement in how we tackle our workdays.
Experts and researchers have been exploring ways to improve productivity for a long time. In this article, we will explore a couple of techniques that have been proven to help you make the most of your workday.
Becoming more productive is more about learning habits and less about learning hard rules. Here are 8 strategies you can make as a part of your work day to get the most out of it.
This may seem simple enough and we may have all heard it way too many times. And we know it's true; we know what a well-rested morning can boost our productivity and how a sleepless night can ruin it. So before you sit in front of your desk, make sure you’re charged up for the day ahead. Make sure you’re full of energy, and that you have everything you need right in front of you.
Make sure that you get a full 8 hours of sleep every day to wake up refreshed. It may be a good idea to get a couple of minutes of workout before you begin your day.
Studies have shown that workday exercises make you better at time management by 72% and help you complete your tasks for the day.
It’s also important to have a healthy breakfast before you get started on your day. If you commute daily for work, this may be more difficult but at the same, it makes it even more important. Without proper nutrition, you’re likely to feel tired at work, get headaches, and be unable to focus.
And before you sit down, keep a bottle of water next to you and check if you need anything else for the task ahead. There’s nothing more distracting (and annoying) than having to get up three or four times to get something you forgot.
Start the day well, and ace it.
You cannot go through your entire workday sitting in front of your desk. And you shouldn’t. Our jobs often demand that we sit in front of our workstations to get our tasks done. So it may seem a bit counterintuitive to suggest that we move around to improve our productivity. But the fact is, our minds can only focus for so long, and if we don’t take enough breaks, we will be distracted.
Productivity experts often use the Pomodoro technique to complete the tasks for the day. The technique emphasizes the importance of taking breaks. The followers of the technique work on a task for exactly 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. After 4 cycles of this, they take a longer 15 to 30 minute break.
The technique makes sure that you’re in the ‘zone’ when you’re working with zero distractions. The breaks help you take care of the distractions and put all your energy into the work when you’re back. While 25 minutes is the prescribed duration, it's best to find a frequency that works for you.
It may also be a good idea to invest in a standing desk. Besides affecting your productivity, sitting for a long time puts you at an increased risk of lifestyle diseases. You can also set timers on your phone so that you take a walk every now and then and step away from the desk. Short walks can help you stay alert, focused, and energetic throughout the day.
Becoming your most productive self may be a mental exercise but you also need to be physically fit and comfortable. There’s a reason why some Chess Grandmasters load up on carbs before competitive matches and actually lose weight during.
If you’re not comfortable, if you’re feeling hungry, or if you’re sweating, it will be a distraction for you. Make sure your workspace is comfortable for you and that you spend time taking care of yourself. When engrossed in urgent or important work, when you’re in the ‘zone,’ it’s easy to lose track of your time. We often forget to eat or drink water until we’re done with the work or we get a bad headache.
Skipping meals may seem to be improving productivity in the short run, but you’ll become tired or worse later in the day. If this happens a lot to you, it may be a good idea to set reminders and make sure you have enough food and water on time.
Being a place we spend a lot of time at, it’s a good idea to invest in your workspace. Make sure that your screen is at the right height and that you’re not stretching your neck to see clearly. Invest in a keyboard that supports your wrists and helps you type comfortably. And make sure you have a comfortable chair, preferably with lumbar support.
While multitasking may be necessary for some situations, it is rarely efficient. It’s best to stick to one task and finish it before moving on to the next. Switching between tasks usually makes you less efficient at all of them. When you move from one task to another, it takes almost 25 minutes to focus on the new one.
Before you set out to do your tasks, prioritize them, and tackle them one after another.
It’s also important to minimize distractions during your workday. Before you sit down for a task, check your messages, your emails, and other notifications.
A good technique would be to make it difficult for you to engage with your distractions. For example, if you get distracted by notifications from your phone, keep the phone on silent, and keep it 10 feet away from you. Since you’ll have to walk over to get your phone, you’re less likely to check your notifications. If you’re using Teams or Slack, set your notifications so that only the important ones alert you.
If you’re working in an office environment, try not to get distracted by your colleagues when you’re in the middle of something. Wearing headphones will signal your colleagues that you don’t want to be disturbed.
As for headphones, for some music can help focus, while for others it can be distracting. If it's distracting, listening to white noise may be a good option to explore.
Before you start your day, make a list of everything you have to do. Make sure that you have enough time for all of them and then order them according to their priority. Having a plan is similar to setting targets for yourself. As you go through the day, it will help you keep track of your progress and make sure you can complete them on time.
If you’re not completing the tasks on time, it could mean you need to pick up the pace. A plan helps you set the pace for yourself.
When you set the plan, make sure that you’re not overextending yourself and that you leave enough room to take breaks. Leave enough time for you to have food and walk around a bit. And ensure there’s enough flexibility in the plan for any emergencies. Every once in a while you may have to take up a few extra tasks, but it's best if this doesn’t become a pattern. When you don’t get enough time to work on a task, the quality suffers.
It will not be easy to create a plan that works exactly as you designed it. But over time you’ll understand your own performance and get better at it. And you’ll be able to make better use of every workday.
Sometimes the best way to get your tasks done is to ask someone else to do them. The saying goes “there’s cheap, fast, and good, and you get to pick two of them.” And if you want something done quickly and well, you need to get more people on it.
Delegating the tasks helps you focus on the important ones; it helps you see the big picture. For example, if you’re working on a mobile app, a single person can’t handle the UI design, front end, and back end for it. Even if they could, it will either take a lot of time, or it won’t be good. But by delegating the different tasks, you’ll get the entire project done on time and well.
Delegating tasks also improves communication among your team and helps build a better team. The team learns more skills and becomes more empowered.
Getting constant calls and taps on your shoulder while working can kill your productivity more than anything. And asynchronous communication is the solution for that. The idea with async communication is that you reduce the number of calls and meetings as much as possible. And instead, you use messaging tools and email for communication.
Getting on a call means two people have to be available at the same time and if they’re in the middle of something they have to drop it. And if it's a meeting with more than two people, it means all of those people need to be available at the same time. Or they have to drop whatever they’re doing to be on the call.
This means all the team members will lose their productivity. And if your team members expect you to immediately respond to their messages, you’ll be interrupted every few minutes.
With async, you can effectively manage your time and stick to your schedule.
It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “if I have five minutes to chop down a tree, I’ll spend the first three sharpening the axe.” This is one of the best principles you can keep in mind to get the most out of your day.
Whatever the task at hand, make sure you have the best tools to do them. And spend the time to learn them. Once you’ve mastered the right tools, you’ll be able to do the tasks much more easily. And many digital workplace tools often offer advanced automation solutions which can help you get more done in a short time.
You can also use task management tools like MagicTask. These tools help you visualize the tasks, prioritize and delegate them, and make sure they are completed on time.
Invest in the right tools and the right hardware, and invest in yourself to get the most out of your workday. With the right approach, you can save a lot of time, finish more tasks, and get the maximum out of your work day.