It’s an hour past your lunch break, and you’re realizing the business day has started to waste away. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep last night and your brain isn’t up for large tasks. Maybe business is just slow today and you can’t think of anything truly productive to do. Either way, if the three o’clock hour is soon approaching and you haven’t gotten much done yet, turn your slow day into a productive day with these seven tips. You can finish at least one productive task by five!
If you really want to get something done today, turn off your cell phone, disable your pop-up email notifications, sign out of chat, and do anything else you can to unplug yourself from other people. Interruptions, no matter how small, kill productivity by derailing your thought process. By cutting yourself off from the world for just a short period of time, you can focus on a task and make significant progress.
Afraid of missing an important call or email? Don’t worry about it. Of course, if you know you’re going to receive an important call, don’t turn off your phone, but if you’re not expecting something, unplug. Give it 30 minutes. See what happens.
2. Make a To-Do List
It’s a lot easier to get things done when you can look at them written down in a to-do list, especially if you’re low on mental energy. Before you try to get productive, kick off your period of real productivity by making a list of all the things you need to do. When you’re finished making your list of possible activities, you’ll be able to choose and complete specific tasks with better focus.
When you complete a task, cross it off your list. It feels good to check off a finished task when you thought your day was wasting away.
3. Complete Easy Tasks
Maybe you have a big project in the works, but you don’t have the energy to work on it today. That’s okay. Take it easy. You can still be productive; just do the easy work today. Look at your to-do list and work through the simplest bullet points.
4. Play Catch-Up
Whether you’re tired or you just can’t find anything productive to do, try completing one of those non-urgent tasks that all businesses need to do at some point. Accounting is a big one. You can also catch up on emails that you’ve meaning to write, and make some phone calls. If you’re in sales, for example, call a past customer. Maybe your slow day will turn into a big day!
5. Stop Multi-Tasking
Seriously. Stop. Choose to focus your attention on one single task and don’t work on anything else for at least 30 minutes.
And don’t kid yourself either. Especially if you frequently work online, it’s easy to think you’re focusing on one task even though you’re not. Maybe you have Facebook or Twitter up in one browser tab and you have your work task up in another tab. Maybe you think checking Facebook or Twitter doesn’t count as an interruption. It does!
Close out and ignore anything that doesn’t relate to your immediate task at hand. You’ll finish much faster if you’re not constantly interrupting your own thoughts.
6. Read Something
“It is what you read when you don’t have to
that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”
– Oscar Wilde
Want to be productive at work today? Learn something. There is no easier way to invest in your career or company than to invest in your own ability to progress. Now obviously, you’re already doing a bit of reading, and that’s great. Keep doing it. Read a news article about your industry. Read about new ways to do your job more effectively. Read up on new tricks; read up on old tricks. New knowledge that improves your impact and expertise within your field is always worth your time.