Well we’re nearly through January (I know, how did that happen?!) and this is usually the time when many of us have already given up on or gotten side tracked on our goals and intentions for the year. Totally normal. No need to beat yourself up. Just take a moment to check in and see if the goals and intentions you set for yourself were authentic and true to you. If not, let them go and perhaps hone in on some more genuine goals.
If, however the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of January were true to you, take a moment to think about why you may have gotten distracted or side lined? Unexpected demands on our time, changes in health, Mercury Retrograde, etc all play an influence and there will always be stuff that comes up to pull you away from what you’ve set out to achieve. Sometimes these things can’t be helped and do require our attention and energy, but other times we do have choice. There are measures you can take to achieve the goals that you set out for yourself such as finding an ActionBuddy for one example. That way there is somebody there to keep you motivated.
Once you’ve re-evaluated and refocused, here are a few of my favorite ways to stay on track and productive in a world that can be highly distracting.
Create a Distraction Free Work Space.
With everything from text messages to emails to Facebook messages having their own chime and notification, it can be incredibly challenging to concentrate and get any work done. I make sure to leave my phone in another room or tucked in a drawer with the ringer off. I mute my computer, so that I don’t hear any notifications and ensure all pop ups are set to off. If you are in an office or a shared working space, you could look at using cubicles to separate you from others. I’m very intentional about creating a distraction free work space. Doing these little things ensures that even if I only 15 minutes to work on something, it’s 15 minutes of fully focused and productive time.
Create a Clean and Organized Work Space
You’ve probably heard a cluttered house results in a cluttered mind. Or may it’s the other way around? In any case, you get the point. Clean up your work space. File papers and bills, shred what’s not needed, recycle junk mail, etc. I like to keep my desk as clean and clear as I can. There is a distinct difference in my output when my desk is piled with papers versus when it’s clean and organized. Taking the 5 extra minutes to organize before sitting down to create and produce will go a long way in over all productivity. It is believed that you can see Increased Productivity with a coffee station, so maybe think about setting one up in, or near your workspace. Not only can caffeine get you going but setting it up as close as possible eliminates distractions by making several trips to the kitchen or even your local coffee joint.
Start with the Hardest First
What are you most dreading doing? Do that first. Having it out of the way will energize you to get through other to-dos and projects with ease. Start with the toughest and end with the easiest.
Set a Timer
There are numerous time management techniques and theories, one developed in the 80s known as the Pomodoro Technique is particularly popular and well studied. It uses a tomato-shaped kitchen timer that runs in 25-minute increments, which has been proven to increase workflow and productivity. The theory goes that the technique trains you to manage your time better, so you work with time and not against it. While it’s not necessary to purchase the Pomodoro timer, a cheap kitchen timer will do – resist the urge to use your phone or computers timer – see my first strategy above. You can read more about the technique here. What I love about this technique is that 25 minutes is totally doable – it doesn’t feel overwhelming, before you know it the time has elapsed. You may not want to stop what you’re doing – however the technique suggests that you take a short break before setting up for the next 25 minutes. After four rounds of 25 minutes they suggest a longer break of 20-30 minutes. I’d love for you to try it and let me know what you think!
Do you work in a shared space? Busy office? If so, invest in a good pair of head phones – noise cancelling ones like these are amazing if you easily get distracted by background noise and chatter. I am very easily distracted by lyrics of songs, so for me headphone with ambient or instrumental music works well. There are a ton of play lists to choose from on Google Play, personally I love jazz, but the choices and genres are endless.
Make a List.
I love lists. Nothing gives me more satisfaction or a sense of accomplishment than checking things off a list. As a compulsive and abundant list maker and random thought jotter, I need a way to organize those lists and thoughts, and the Notes App on my iPhone just doesn’t cut it. So I’ve switched over to Wunderlist, which allows you to organize lists into folders, then share those lists and folders with others or assign certain to-dos to specific people! Amazing, right!
Jot it Down
Take a few minutes before you tuck in for the night to jot down what you need to accomplish the next day. This serves as a bit of a brain dump so you’re not thinking about it as you try to fall asleep. Having said that, I like to keep a little note pad on my bedside table, just in case something comes to me as I’m drifting off, often a very creative time.
If you work in an office may be the key to worker productivity would be to become a hybrid workplace. A Hybrid Workplace is when workers spend half of their time in the office and half of their time working from home, and this has been proven to be better for productivity. Having a more relaxed working atmosphere puts less pressure on the workers and allows them to flourish to the best of their ability, perhaps ask your employer if this is something that they could offer for you!
And finally, while making your list for the next day, take a moment or two to acknowledge your wins for the day. If you’re like me, you’re in a perpetual state of running behind, with always more to do and not quite enough achieved. Giving yourself time to reflect on your wins and what you did accomplish at the end of the day provides perspective on how you’re doing – probably really well. At the end of the week carve out some more substantial time for reflection – did you accomplish what you had intended, were you accountable to yourself and others, what do you need to give more time and energy, etc. This will help you focus for the coming week and leave the hits and misses of the past week behind.
What techniques do you use to get the most of out of work time? I’m always fine tuning and honing my productivity, so I’d love for you share your tips and tricks below. Happy creating!