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How to get the most out of your workday

By Gabriele Kaier, 30.03.2017, Approx. 5 min reading time.

Do you end up with things still on your to-do list at the end of the day? Do you maybe start with a well-planned to-do list but never get to the bottom of it and lose your focus, find yourself working on low-priority tasks or even procrastinating? Here are some tips and productivity techniques tailored to your personality and workstyle to manage your daily to-do’s and stay on track.

Do you end up with things still on your to-do list at the end of the day? Do you maybe start with a well-planned to-do list but never get to the bottom of it and lose your focus, find yourself working on low-priority tasks or even procrastinating? Here are some tips and productivity techniques tailored to your personality and workstyle to manage your daily to-do’s and stay on track.

3 overarching principles for increased productivity:

    1. Start with small changes
You cannot change years of work habits overnight. Start the change with employing just one tip and keep adding more to find the strategy that works best for you.
    1. Be accountable to yourself or another person
Force yourself to get the job done for example by setting yourself deadlines and announcing them to others.
    1. Accept that you are human
Accept that you sometimes make mistakes, get distracted or have a bad day. Don’t get discouraged from your mistakes, keep on moving ahead instead.

Working styles and techniques for more productivity:

Monotasking versus Multitasking

Are you one of those people who think that they can get more done by juggling multiple tasks at the same time? You may feel productive, but you are probably not completing any of those tasks efficiently. The better you can focus on doing one task at a time the more tasks you can complete. Switching back and forth between tasks is hard work for your brain, because the neural networks must backtrack to figure out where they left off and then reconfigure. When you multitask you tend to make more mistakes and extra activity causes you to slow down. You can achieve your best performance by monotasking. It’s not realistic to block off hours at a time for a single task, but even committing to monotask for five minutes can help your productivity. Tips for small changes:
      • Remove temptation like surfing the Internet or engaging with Social Media. There are several anti-distraction programs available like SelfControl or Freedom
      • Work on just one screen and put away your smartphone.
      • If you tend to lose focus, get up and briefly walk around.
      • Set a timer for five or ten minutes and focus for that amount of time. Then make a one minute break and get back for another five or 10 minutes.

Combat Procrastination

Find an accountability partner, whose role is to receive regular progress reports on your project. This can be for example a colleague, who has to take his or her role seriously, expressing disappointment or appreciation to you. To-do-lists can help you get your most important tasks done, provided that you use them effectively. Before you leave work, make a list of five to eight goals you would like to achieve the following working day. But be realistic about what you can accomplish in one day. Write items on your list, which are specific, realistic and simple. Split your project into small components. And don’t spend more time on checking the items than on completing them. So, give yourself five minutes or less to write the list. Disadvantage of To-do-lists is the so called “structured procrastination”: We are vulnerable to avoid working on hard tasks and spend instead time on easier ones like answering emails. Here you can find some apps to keep track of your lists: Wunderlist or Remember The Milk. It is not only important how you work, but also where you work:

Organize your desk

Your physical workspace has an impact on your productivity. It can energize you or deplete your energy. Each paper on your desk is associated with a task and needs time. Have you calculated enough time to get it all done? Our tip: When the piles on your desk stay the same for the last three weeks and don’t seem to be reducing, then you need to delegate. Keep your desk clear except for the project you are working at the moment. Create a zone for new things that have just come in and an “out zone” for things that are finished. Spend the last 10 minutes of your workday to tidy up your desk for the next day.

Keep focus, track your time

When you track time you get valuable information about your daily work routine and how you can optimize your workflow. We often lose track of how much time we spend on several tasks. Thus, a time tracking tool helps you get back on track and provides you with an overview of your resources for better allocation of your time. With conventional manual time recording you have to invest some effort and time. The results are often inaccurate and sensitive to errors. With a time tracking software like TimeTac you can efficiently manage the time you spent on projects and accurately measure billable hours, thus you are able to better allocate your time into tasks that are really important. Here you can test TimeTac for free.
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