We spend so much of our days (our lives, really) at work that we really should be focusing on how to make the most of our time in the office. Here are a 6 ways to be more productive at work, even if your workplace is hectic.
1. Stay Five Minutes Late
After you turn off your computer at the end of the day, take five minutes and organize your desk. Recycle papers you no longer need, rinse out your coffee cup and clear your desk. If you have anything that you know needs to be done first thing in the morning, put that on the top of your pile. It’s the same idea as cleaning your house before you leave for vacation. Spending just five minutes on this will reduce your tension tomorrow.
2. Create a “To-Do Tomorrow” List
On the same note as above, writing out your to-do list will help you keep work at work. It’s an amazing thing. You won’t fret on your commute home if you’ve already written your top three priorities for the next morning. You can set your mind on the things you want to do with your family and be ready for them when you get home.
3. …and Don’t Open Your Email Until Your List is Complete
This is counter-intuitive, and will feel very, very wrong. But it’s so powerful, especially if your tasks require attention to detail. You’ll ensure that your “to-do tomorrow” list gets done (instead of being pushed back another day!) and you’ll start your day being proactive instead of reactive. Note: this strategy really only works if your tasks are manageable for the morning. Creating a “to-do tomorrow” list with quick, easy wins will get you motivated and ready for the emails, when they come. Because, we all know, they’ll come.
4. If You Can, Wear Headphones When You Don’t Want to be Bothered
Headphones are the universal sign for “please, not now, I’m focused on the task at hand” and the truth is, you don’t even need to be listening to anything in order to make this trick effective! This won’t work for all positions. If your job requires that you have to answer the phone or interact with customers walking through the door, the headphone route won’t work. In all other positions, though, wearing headphones is almost guaranteed to get you fewer interruptions. The best bet for those? Big, noise-canceling headphones. If you wear earbuds, you run the risk of looking rude since people can’t tell what’s going on.
5. Be Friendly to Your Colleagues
Repeat after me: “Don’t be a jerk at work!” — print that out, if you have to. It’s easy to get tied to an idea (especially if it’s yours!) and fight for it, but it’s really important to remember that being nice will get you farther (yes, even at work) than being right. Get to know your colleagues and bosses. Relate on a personal level. You don’t have to share more than you’re comfortable with, but you should know the names of their spouses and children. Go out of your way to create a friendly (not hostile!) work environment, and this effort will be paid off in spades.
6. Change Your Passwords
There is strong evidence that suggests that the words we write influence our mood and behaviors. So, the next time the IT Department makes you change your password, try incorporating the word “smile” into it. Or use the punchline of a very funny joke. Typing s-m-i-l-e will likely get the corners of your mouth going in the right direction, and sometimes, it’s the little mood boosters we need to focus on our (sometimes) mundane tasks.