Whether you are working from home, an office or a local coworking space, here are some top tips for staying productive.
Doing your best work and ticking off the maximum number of things from your to-do list as possible requires getting into the zone. But that isn’t always easy to do as most people juggle many competing tasks and often feel they don’t have enough time to get everything done. For freelancers or entrepreneurs who are relying on their own output to generate revenue, it is particularly important to work in an efficient way.
Here are some ideas for being more productive and making the most of your working day…
1. Cut out long commutes
Spending one to two hours a day travelling to a city centre office is often not productive, especially if you are driving or stuck on a crowded bus or underground train. Even if you are listening to a podcast, your energy will already have been diminished by the time you sit down at your desk. By taking a short walk or bike ride to a nearby coworking space, you can clear your head en route and arrive fresh and ready to perform.
2. Work in ‘sprints’
In his new book, Thursday is the New Friday, author Joe Sanok argues that people in the modern world should start working four-day weeks. While this may not be for everyone, he also describes exercises and tools to help professionals to design better schedules. Not only this, but he says the key to being productive is working in ‘sprints’, where you block off segments of time to focus on just one task (and with no interruptions such as checking your email). It can also be helpful to impose deadlines and restrict the amount of minutes or hours you have for a task.
3. Carve out time alone and with others
Spending all day, every day, in the same environment isn’t always conducive to feeling productive, motivated and inspired. Plan your week according to when you will benefit from time around others in a buzzing coworking space, for example, and when you need quiet time at home for ‘deep work’. It’s also important to remember that ‘productivity’ takes many forms – it could be about coming up with a great idea when making a cup of tea, or catching up with a client over lunch.
4. Be discerning about meetings
One of the benefits of working from home during the pandemic was not having to waste a lot of the day travelling around town getting to meetings. Breaking up the day like this also tends to make people less productive. Zoom video calls can be very efficient for team catch-ups, collaboration, interviews and even engaging with new clients, so don’t stop doing them.
Meeting in person is sometimes essential for building business relationships – in this case, invite colleagues or clients to your local coworking space so you don’t have to travel far. It will also look more professional than a public café.
5. Clear your inbox at the end of the day
Keeping on top of emails can be hard, but it doesn’t take long to start feeling deluged with messages you don’t have time to respond to. For most people, they will be most energetic at the beginning of the day when they have had a nutritious breakfast, a cup of coffee and (with luck) a good night’s sleep.
Instead of spending an hour at the beginning of the day responding to emails, focus on getting your most important tasks done first. Then dedicate an hour at the end of the day to getting your inbox as close to zero as possible. (Filing, deleting and starring priority emails is key.) Then the next day you will feel more in control.
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