Do you feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done? Are you ending your workday wondering where all of your time has gone? Chances are, there are many of us who could stand to be more productive. Whether you realize it or not, we spend a lot of our time in unproductive and inefficient ways. Time slips through our fingers more easily than we realize, and this hinders us from achieving all that we’re capable of.
If you want to be your best in work and in life, you have to start winning your productivity back. I’m here to help you move forward from the slog and disappointment of wasted days and overloaded, overwhelming schedules.
Here’s how you can own your schedule and be more productive in the workplace.
4 Steps to Winning at Workplace Productivity
1) Recognize your biggest time sinks.
Do you know what’s really wasting your time at work? It’s easy to believe that “distractions” are the biggest cause of lost time, but we have to ask ourselves...why are we turning to distractions when there is so much work to be done? Here’s the real answer. The reason we get caught up in distractions, whether it’s spending too much time on Slack, checking social media, or doing menial, do-nothing tasks, is because we start our day without a real, meaningful game plan.
If you want to be truly productive, you have to have a plan for that productivity. That means going into each workday with a proactive mindset. Your biggest time waster is simply not knowing your goals, tasks, and schedule. Once you do, you have to anticipate potential issues—tasks taking longer than you expect, unexpected meetings, or hiccups, and making sure you have space to accommodate. Becoming flustered will waste precious mental energy and disrupt your ability to focus, organize, and execute the tasks at hand.
2) Forgo your perfectionism.
Perfectionism is the precursor to procrastination. When you hone in on the highest of high standards for your work, you will inevitably fail to meet them—and fail to finish anything. Because you can’t meet these standards, you will never stop tinkering, editing, and trying to perfect. This means you will never be able to move on to the next task and you will always fret about whether or not your work is good enough.
If you want to be productive, you have to be okay with less than perfection. Be satisfied with your best. Setting unreasonable standards will only drag you down, even if you believe you are only pushing yourself to do better. Ultimately, you will hurt your ability to do work at all, whether by endlessly changing the work you manage to do, or by putting off starting to begin with for fear of producing less than perfection.
3) Make one change at a time.
When you begin to recognize the patterns of distraction or procrastination in your workday, making a change can be challenging. We become entrenched in our work habits over time, and changing these subconscious habits and patterns is a lot more difficult than it seems. Allow yourself to make one small change at a time. You are rewiring your brain and how you function day in and day out, and this process doesn’t happen in a day or even a week. Remember, it takes an average of two months to change a habit before your new behavior becomes automatic.
If you’re trying out new ways of working, attempting to make a schedule for the next day, or just trying to stop yourself from multi-tasking, these changes all take time to sink in.
4) Make it actionable.
One of the biggest mistakes that hinders our productivity is a failure to make our plans actionable. When we make to-do lists, they are vague or in too-big concepts to tackle as single tasks. We will list, for example, “finish project by end of day” rather than “make powerpoint presentation for client,” or “schedule meeting with client.”
Break large tasks into smaller, actionable tasks that tell you exactly what you need to do in very specific terms. Otherwise, you waste time figuring out what all the moving pieces are that need to fall into place to complete the whole, encompassing task.
To-do lists can also be nefarious. While we have this compulsion and need to be organized, we can over-organize in a subconscious attempt to procrastinate from a difficult task. Give yourself just a few minutes in your day to make your to-do list. You don’t need to write down every single thing that you have to do ever. A good list for your day so that you have structure and guidance to move from task to task is plenty.
Ending your bad productivity habits can be an uphill battle. Even when you love your job, you can fall prey to monotony and distractions. That’s why we all have to step back from time to time and examine our workplace habits and evaluate where we are and how we can improve our workplace performance.
Getting more out of your workday will leave you feeling more satisfied, less stressed, and more ready to tackle the challenges in and outside of the office.
What helps amp up your workplace productivity? Share your tips in the comments.