Tell me if this sounds familiar: You sit down at your desk, open your to-do list for the day, then an email comes in. You respond to the email, which prompts you to take another action, respond to another email, and so on. Next thing you know, it’s nearly noon and you’ve spent half the day getting sucked into email exchanges and side tasks – with your day’s planned to-do list still staring you in the face.
If you’ve experienced this, you may be spending too much time on low-priority work and taking away from your time to complete high-priority work. Just because an activity is time-consuming, that does not mean it is valuable.
Here are 3 tips to improve productivity:
- Prioritize: Don’t just make a to-do list. Make a list of all the items on your docket for the day and rank them in order of urgency. Make sure to estimate the amount of time you anticipate each item taking and schedule your day accordingly.
- Eliminate distractions: Before beginning your work, turn off all the pop-up notifications on your computer and your phone. Each “ding” will pull your mental energy away from the task at hand and minimize your quality of work. No matter how much we’d like to think we can multi-task, studies continue to prove that we can’t. Instead, take a break every 30-45 minutes to check your messages to keep your peace of mind.
- Update your team: There’s nothing worse than spending hours on a report only to find out that someone else already did it the day before. After completing a task or a milestone, communicate an update to your team and/or client to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Try as we might, we are all only allotted 24 hours in day. Sticking to these three simple tips can help you make the most out of your work time (and maybe help with personal tasks too!) so that you stay less busy and more productive.