Work Smarter, Not Harder
Walk around your office any given afternoon and ask people how they are, and the answer is often “I’m sooo busy”. Being busy means that you’re struggling to get everything done within the time confines of your work day. Is it possible that everyone is always really that busy, or are there ways we can boost productivity to do more with less time? For most people, increasing productivity is not about working longer hours, it’s about defining what productivity means to you and setting yourself up for success:
Set Your Own Rules
What does productivity look like to you? It could be ticking items off your to-do list, devoting a specified period to a project, or ending your day by making a list for the following morning - productivity means different things to different people. There’s a lot of articles out there with generic advice on increasing productivity: “work in 20 minute intervals”, “complete tasks in groups of five”, “answer all your emails first”… Don’t look to generalized tips and life hacks to define your productivity, decide what it means to you so you can achieve those goals.
Take Care of Yourself
Taking time out to care for yourself emotionally and physically will make you more productive at work. For some, this could be physical exercise, meditation, or meeting friends for lunch. These sorts of activities are preventative measures to maintain good physical and mental health, but you also need to be mindful to take care of yourself when you’re ill or emotionally stressed. Taking time off will allow you to recover faster and it will protect your colleagues from the physical sickness or mental stress you’re dealing with.
Plan Your Leisure Time
You’ve worked hard on being productive all week, now you need to have a plan for the weekend. Don’t let yourself be robbed of your non-work hours by time thieves like television and social media, but don’t feel like you need to maximize the productivity out of every non-working hour. It’s perfectly okay to dedicate part of your weekend to hobbies and personal projects, and then also spend time catching up on a favourite Netflix show. Having a plan of what you’re going to do when will provide some structure to your weekend so that you’re ready for Monday feeling satisfied and accomplished.
Accept That You’re Not Perfect
No matter how many tasks you check off your to-do list, there will always be more that can be added to it. If you catch yourself always avoiding certain tasks, these could be things you don’t feel confident about doing. It’s okay to put off these tasks, but you may also want to revaluate whether you need to be the one to do them. If cleaning your gutters makes you so anxious that you’re 3 months behind in doing it, consider hiring someone and using that time to focus on things you excel at.
If you’re feeling like there’s just not enough time in the day, don’t beat yourself up about it – it’s important to accept that some days will be more productive than others. Try to keep in mind that there’s no one size fits all solution to increasing productivity - do what works best for you. Hopefully next time someone asks you “how’s it going?” at the office, your response won’t be “I’m sooo busy”.