Starting the work week with a mountain of paperwork and a mile-long to-do list can leave you feeling overwhelmed before Monday’s lunch break. Feeling unproductive for several weeks in a row can set you up for burnout and missed work opportunities. Fortunately, there are several simple hacks that you can implement this week to turn our productivity around before quitting time.
Utilize distraction blocker apps
If you work in front of a computer for any part of your day, it can be tempting to pop open your social media feed or read through an interesting news article, especially when you’re feeling mentally blocked. Studies show this temptation is prevalent in the workplace – most people use only 60% of their available work time, primarily as a result of distractions such as email or online browsing. These simple distractions eat up more time than you realize and can compound your lack of focus. Avoid the temptation by utilizing distraction blocker apps, such as RescueTime. These apps block designated applications or websites for a specified time period, allowing you to clear your mind (and your desktop) of fruitless distractions.
Even if you don’t typically practice meditation outside of work, indulging in mindfulness at the office for just 5 minutes can help your productivity levels. A study in Psychological Science shows that intensive meditation can enhance brain function leading to greater focus, even during mundane tasks.
Schedule appointments with yourself
While there is probably no shortage of meetings already on your calendar, including some appointments with yourself can improve the effectiveness of your schedule as a productivity tool. Block out designated time to work on larger projects, schedule break times, and build in “quiet” time for deep thinking or personal development. By scheduling out any unused blocks of time in your calendar, you can use your schedule as a visual queue to help you stay on task and seamlessly transition between activities.
Eat the frog
In his book “Eat That Frog!”, Brian Tracy recommends an important productivity hack. If you have to eat a live frog, you should eat it first thing in the morning. In other words, to avoid procrastination, get a jump start on your biggest, most challenging, and least desirable task at the beginning of your day. This will leave you with a sense of accomplishment once the task is finished, and you’ll also feel relieved and unblocked for the remainder of the day knowing that your most difficult task is behind you.
Establish a nightly routine
Many people have a morning routine, but establishing a nightly routine can also have a significant impact on your weekly productivity. This doesn’t involve brushing your teeth and changing into pajamas before bed; your nightly routine should include the tasks you commit to doing before quitting work for the day. These items might include reviewing your calendar for the next day, cleaning off your desk, or getting to inbox zero. Whatever your personal routine, committing to it faithfully will set your next work day up for maximum productivity.
Delegate non-essential tasks
Trying to handle every task personally will kill your productivity. Free yourself up to do important work by delegating non-essential tasks, such as personal household chores or low-value work responsibilities. To identify which tasks you should pass off, try the following:
- Value your time on a per-hour basis. If, for example, you can earn $30/hour at work, you might value your time at $30/hour.
- Identify tasks that you would consider delegating. Build a list with a considerable number of tasks that you could pass off to others, either through outsourcing or through rearranging priorities on your current team.
- Calculate the hourly cost of outsourcing or delegating each task on your list. If, for example, an item was “mowing the lawn”, it may cost you $50 to hire a landscaper and 2 hours to mow the lawn yourself. This translates to an hourly cost of $25/hour to delegate.
- Pass off any tasks that are cheaper to delegate than your personal value. Honor your worth; if you can make more money than it would cost to delegate a particular task, delegate it and focus on higher-value activities instead.
Complete a social media detox
In addition to being a distraction at work, social media is often a mental distraction throughout the week. Feelings of boredom, sadness, happiness, curiosity, or frustration can all compel people to take to social media and share thoughts or mindlessly scroll through the stories of others. If you find yourself constantly turning to social media, complete a social media detox for one week to break the habit of constantly pulling up your social feeds. Research shows that a one-week social detox can improve sleep patterns, decrease feelings of stress, enhance mental clarity, and increase productivity. Even without those added benefits, heavy social users may save up to 30 hours per month by cutting out social media.
By focusing on simple changes that can improve your productivity, you can reap many benefits beyond increasing your work capacity; you will likely experience more creativity, improved mindset, and a newfound sense of enthusiasm for your work.