Most of us are familiar with that ‘Monday morning’ feeling: the particular type of dread which creeps in when you realise just how much work you have to do in the week ahead. It’s not pleasant, it’s not easily-avoided, and, worst of all, it never seems to help motivate you to be more productive. If anything, it actually lowers your productivity.
Thankfully, there are some things you can do to overcome that sensation – and all it takes is a little re-structuring of your day. Here are just a few organisation tips to help you transform your work life and encourage maximum efficiency.
Categorise tasks according to importance
This may seem like an obvious point, but there’s a key distinction that needs to be made when talking about the ‘importance’ of a task. Some things may be important, but not necessarily urgent – and vice versa. Obviously, the urgent tasks need to be tackled first (either directly by you or, if possible, by somebody you can delegate to), but the important tasks need to be carefully organised so that you’re not rushing through them at the last minute. Try using programmes such as Trello or Asana to manage which of your tasks are urgent and which are important, and structure your workday around them.
Approach challenges proactively
Once you’ve identified which tasks are important, it’s tempting to avoid them. You convince yourself that if you complete a lot more, less-important tasks, then – somehow – you’re getting just as much (or even more) work done. Unfortunately, putting off the things that actually need your attention will only make them harder to tackle when you do get round to them, and having that worry weighing on your mind throughout the day will limit your productivity in other areas, too. So, take a proactive approach: complete your biggest challenges as soon as possible.
Be wary of disruptions
Disruptions are inevitable, especially if you work as part of a team. When your schedule isn’t the only one you have to be wary of, it suddenly becomes so much harder to plan out your day. What you can do, however, is think carefully about the necessity of certain regular disruptions, like meetings. If a meeting could just as easily be an email, it should be.
Alternatively, try to schedule time away from your focused work at fixed points of the day – perhaps first thing in the morning, or just after your lunch. That way, any disruptions that may arise will become a part of the routine, and you can more easily plan around them.
If you can’t avoid a break in your routine, it’s not the end of the world. What matters is that you focus your efforts on getting back to whatever you were doing as quickly as you can, and take a second check over your important/urgent tasks and note any changes that may have arisen from the meeting/interruption.
Block out time for large projects
If you absolutely cannot afford to take time out of your day for a meeting, make your colleagues aware of it in advance. Block out a few hours – or a whole day, if you need it – to get on with your most pressing tasks. Powering through a big project in one sitting will likely yield much stronger results than trying to do the same thing in broken, disrupted bursts, and you’ll feel better for being able to dedicate all your energy to one thing
Take breaks when you need them
Even when you are working on a pressing task, it’s important to listen to your energy levels and take breaks. These could be little, minute-long breaks where you just take a breather, five-minute breaks in which you grab a coffee and a chat with a co-worker, or a half-hour/hour you can use to eat a meal or go for a walk. Working non-stop for long hours is likely to limit your productivity, so break it up as you see fit.
Utilise your commute
Making the most of your commute doesn’t necessarily mean completing a project on your laptop on the train in; it can also be used to bookend your day with mindfulness. Taking the morning drive to work to mentally prepare yourself or decompressing on the way home with a book or a podcast is just as much a part of your routine as the time you spend in the office, and it’s important to consider it as such. Beginning and ending your day properly will ensure that you have a healthy approach to your schedule, and are able to go in and out of ‘work mode’ in a way that suits your needs.
Take control of your environment
There’s nothing more hindering to productivity than boredom, and boredom is brought on by being stuck in a rigid routine. So, if your workplace allows you to work from home, do it. Or if you find you’re more productive working from a cafe or a park, go there. Even just moving to a different seat in the office can give you a new spark of energy that you didn’t have before. If nothing else, ensure that your desk space is conducive to productivity: try to keep it de-cluttered, avoid having your phone in easy reach, and let co-workers know if you don’t want to be disturbed.
Of course, if your current workplace doesn’t leave you enough room to maximise your productivity, it might be time to consider a change. Check out SourceChain to see what other opportunities are out there, and interact directly with employers through our open-hiring platform.