The amount of time you have in a day may be finite—but the potential you can get out of it is limitless. Here are some simple yet highly impactful ways to get more out of every workday.
Streamline your screen. Take a quick look at your computer screen: How many windows or tabs are open at this very moment? Are your mobile devices within arm’s reach? Though easy access to these tools may be necessary to stay on top of emails, texts, calls, instant messages, documents and social media interactions, they kill your productivity. Workplace studies reveal that it takes about 15 minutes to fully reclaim your focus once you’ve diverted attention to another window on a computer screen—even if only for a moment. Open only the program you need to complete a given task on your computer and shut down all other windows until it’s complete, or time to move on. Store your mobile devices in a separate room from your workspace so you’re not distracted by vibrating noises or “pings” or turn them off when you’re mid-task.
Turn off push notifications. There are now more smartphones in the world than toothbrushes—and our collective society has the distraction to show for it! Check the settings on your smartphone and turn push notifications for apps to “off.” Though allowing push notifications has been shown to boost app engagement and loyalty—most of the messages aren’t essential, and they make it difficult for you to be truly present in whatever you do. (Beyond the distraction, push notifications also waste your mobile device’s battery power, and could erode your data plan).
Prioritize to do’s with an eye towards ROI. When is the last time you completed a work day feeling truly motivated and fulfilled by what you accomplished? Every day can end on that kind of high note-- but you must be strategic in where, why, and how you spend your time. Before you create a generic “to do” list, evaluate it with an eye towards purpose: How much time are you willing to invest in any task, based on its intangible (personal accomplishment or challenge) and tangible (monetary reward or ROI) value?
Set a timer before you begin any task; work on it only as long as your “to do” list states. When time is up, mark how much progress you made (quarter of the work, half of the job complete, etc.)—and how you felt doing the task. Continue this habit for at least two weeks, and examine your patterns: Did you find most of the work you do in a day fulfilling? Do you have a habit of not completing certain tasks? If so, why? Consider where you can outsource or revisit priorities to maximize the value of the time you put into your business.
Stop reacting to your inbox.
Workers spend a whopping 650 hours a year tending to business-related email, according to data compiled by the McKinsey Global Institute
. You wouldn’t dive into a pile of papers someone placed on your desk mid-task; why would you take notice of a new email the second it arrives? Instead of reacting to every “ping” of your email inbox, approach it with purpose. Establish appropriate folders—which may include business categories like “financials” or sort by relevance to a particular product or upcoming event, and organize the appropriate messages into them. When it’s time to check email, you’ll have an organized system to respond and tend to the needs that arise from them. Create your happy place
. A 2012 study conducted by professors at the University of Warwick revealed that happiness actually boosts workplace productivity by more than 10%. Think about the little details that make a big difference in how you feel, and make them part of your office experience. Whether it’s an upbeat playlist wafting through the halls, an ergonomic work station, delicious scents in your conference rooms, fresh air coming through your office windows, a plush chair or daily smoothie deliveries, the effort you put into creating a happy workplace is one of the wisest investments you make into your business.