First things first: learn the difference between busy and productive. Being busy means packing as much work as possible into your workday. Being insanely productive means completing big, important tasks without hesitation.
Productivity is about being mindful of the work you take on, having few priorities, and making time, instead of managing it.
Being productive has nothing to do with looking busy for longer, and everything to do with getting the most value out of your working hours.
If you’re doing something all day at work, but still not making progress on the projects that really matter, you may be wasting your days with busyness. Don’t worry – you can change. With a few fresh new habits, you can become a highly prolific employee.
Set Yourself Up for Success
When you are assigned a big, important project, the way you look at it will make all the difference in how quickly and effectively you get it done. If, for example, a horrible feeling of dread washes over you whenever you get a big project, you’ll inevitably avoid it and procrastinate.
Instead, break up the project into manageable blocks, and schedule each block into your calendar. If something needs to be done, you must put it in your calendar or planner. As Marie Forleo says, if you don’t schedule it, it’s not real.
Twist a Tomato
One of the oldest and most effective productivity tricks is The Pomodoro Technique. It’s pretty simple. Just work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break to complete one 30-minute Pomodoro. After four Pomodoros, you reward yourself with a 15-minute break. If you get distracted during your work session, you have to reset your timer!
Pomodoro means tomato in Italian. The technique is named after those red tomato-shaped timers you’ll find in any kitchen supply store. The popular productivity technique has inspired many Pomodoro web apps that make it easy to track your sessions.
Take Better Breaks
What does a “break” mean to you at work?
If you’re switching tabs to play Candy Crush between answering emails, you’re doing it wrong.
Taking breaks is crucial to your health and your productivity. Your ability to concentrate and retain information declines after prolonged periods of work, and you start to make dumb mistakes.
Make sure you take the right breaks, too. Your breaks should be refreshing, and make it easy to focus when you get back to working. Try some of these 21 productivity-boosting break ideas from Lifehack.org. Take a walk, stretch, grab some water, draw a picture, learn to juggle – anything that takes you away from your computer.
Listen to Music
A University of Miami study on playing background music at work shows that employees who groove complete tasks more quickly and come up with better ideas. Music causes your brain to release dopamine, creating those happy feeling that make repetitive tasks so much more bearable. The music also drowns out annoying, distracting noises and keeps your mind from wandering.
Music without lyrics works best. Jazz, piano, even video game background music can provide the rhythm you need in your workday.
Build Systems on Slow Days
If you’re lucky enough to have “slow days” at work when you do not have many assignments on your plate, you can make use of that extra time to help make “fast days” easier and more productive.
A slow day is an excellent time to learn how to create macros in Microsoft Excel so you can automate repetitive spreadsheet actions. Most operating systems allow you to create your own keyboard shortcuts to make some tasks faster, too.
Creating a new system could be as simple as rearranging your tools. Organize your desk gadgets in order from most-used to least. Keep your go-to items within arm’s reach, and stow away anything that you don’t use daily.
So Much to Do, So Little Time
Even with all the productivity hacks in the world, you might still find yourself with more work to do than hours in the day. That’s when it’s time to find partners you trust to take some things off your plate! That’s just what we do at 360 Payments. We take care of your payments so you can focus on the stuff that really matters. Give us a call at 1-855-360-0360 or drop us a line on our website and let us give you a hand!
PS – Ready to launch your dream startup? Check out our tips.
PPS – Remember that stress at work isn’t always a bad thing – as long as it doesn’t get too extreme!