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When it comes down to it, productivity is what it’s all about. Crossing things off your to-do list is such a good motivator and feeling productive can really help to improve your mood. But sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to get everything done. When deadlines are looming, bosses are complaining and clients are waiting, the stress can sometimes be counterproductive.
Distractions are everywhere. From chatty colleagues and phone calls to viral videos and long lunches. It’s easy to let time get away. Where you work and how you work can have a huge impact on how productive you actually are day-to-day. So, your small daily habits can have a big impact on your future.
Fear not, if you are someone who struggles to stay motivated throughout the day, there are things you can do to help keep your mind on track. Studies show that there are little habits you can develop which, if they become part of your subconscious, will see you smashing your targets and clearing your to-do list in plenty of time.
Here are some of the best habits to cultivate which can help you get motivated, get working and get stuff done:
1. Look at your phone later
Most of us reach for our phones as the first thing we do in the morning. Often, we check our phones before we’ve even left our bed. It normally starts by just turning off the alarm but ends up with you scrolling through Instagram, checking the emails that came in overnight and shooting off a few replies before you’ve even put your feet on the floor.
However, if you can avoid the temptation of your screen for just twenty minutes in the morning, you’ll find that you’re more ready to face the day properly after you’ve eaten and let the caffeine kick in. Give yourself some crucial minutes in the morning to get into the right headspace before you try to tackle anything work-related. You’ll find yourself less stressed and you’ll actually get more done once you start.
“Put down your cell phones, put everything away, and feel your blood pulsing in you. Feel your creative impulse, feel your own spirit, your heart, your mind. Feel the joy of being alive and free.” – Patti Smith
Sometimes, having a super long list can be overwhelming. When your inbox is stacking up, making sure you know what needs to be done first is a huge part of being productive. Getting on with the important, time-sensitive tasks will not only make sure you hit your deadlines but will also motivate you to work at the best pace.
Hitting deadlines and managing your time is an effective way to ensure you work well throughout the day. If you know which tasks need to be done right away you won’t be distracted or procrastinate with other menial jobs. Take some pressure off yourself but knowing which things need your attention immediately and which don’t.
3. Get organized (and stay organized)
Tidy workspace, tidy mind. Making sure you aren’t surrounded by junk and old coffee mugs is key to being productive all day. If you’re always searching under old papers to find what you need, you’ll not only waste time but you’ll also lose focus. Whether you work at a desk, or on a laptop or phone or spend lots of time in the car, if it’s clean and organized, you’ll find it easier to concentrate on the task at hand.
Train yourself to always take your mug to the sink, file papers in the right place and put stationary back where it belongs as you go along so you’ll never have to dedicate time to tidying up. The habit of keeping your spaces clean and tidy will benefit your productivity levels to no end.
4. Exercise daily
However, you like to do it, moving your body helps your mind. Successful entrepreneurs and business gurus all know that mental health is linked to physical health. Challenging yourself, pushing through the pain and setting goals is a great way to focus your thoughts, relieve stress and check out of the office for a while. This means when you get back to the grind, you’ll be refreshed, attentive and prepared.
Just twenty minutes of moving around can help get you back on the right track. If you can’t find time to dedicate to exercise, try to get in the habit of walking during your lunch break or cycling to work. Even a quick stretch in the morning to get your day going will help.
5. Get that natural light
Obviously, if you work at a fixed desk in an office, then rearranging may cause some problems. However, science has shown that those who work near natural light from windows are 12% more productive. Moving to work by a window is a quick and easy way to up your productivity without doing a thing!
If you work from home, try to make sure your desk is positioned by a large window. If you have to work in a dark space, try to get in the habit of taking your breaks in a light space. Drink your coffee or tea in a space with windows, if you like walking while on a business call, try to walk in space with lots of natural light. You’ll end up being more productive without even noticing.
6. Take a time out
It’s so easy to stay connected these days. Smartphones mean we are never more than a few taps away from sending an email or comparing some numbers. But everyone needs a break. If you are constantly trying to stay in touch with work and never take some time for yourself, you may find yourself burnt out.
Taking a break and carving out some time in your busy schedule to relax will help keep your enthusiasm for your work and prevent you from feeling lethargic or tired. Finding some time to spend with friends, or learn a new skill will give you the mental stimulation you need to keep your focus and means when you do start working, you’ll be at your most productive.