Self-discipline and time management are difficult skills to manage. It’s easy to get distracted when you are working, whatever your profession, if it’s by a colleague, or your phone, or another task being thrown into your lap. Here are some questions for you to answer to help you maximise your productivity, without giving in to temptation.
What’s stopping you?
Stop and think about what kind of things are distracting you from your work and to-do list. Why are you not being productive? Do other people distract such as co-workers or your family if you work from home. Is it noisy where you work, or do you find it difficult to concentrate where you’re sitting? If you can get to the root of the problem it’ll be easier to eliminate distractions.
When are you at your most productive?
Analyze your productivity and the tasks that you get done. What time of day do you normally complete the most tasks? This is key to understanding the “peak” time of your productivity and you will be able to assign yourself more urgent or difficult tasks during these hours, to ensure that they get done well and efficiently. Are you more productive in the morning or the evening? Before or after lunch?
Are you taking on too much?
It’s generally better to avoid multitasking. Instead of trying to do a million things at once it’s important to prioritize. Deal with each thing you on your to-do list separately, and don’t start another job until you’ve finished the first one. Set small goals that you can achieve in a shorter time. Organise a step by step plan to ensure you get through what you need to do without overwhelming yourself. Break everything into smaller chunks. Remember not to take on too much work and refine your list of priorities.
Are you constantly checking emails?
It’s difficult to maintain control over this as many of us are bombarded with emails all day, but why not set specific times to check and reply to emails? Make sure you prioritize and only reply to the most urgent ones first. Your phone can also be a big distraction. Maybe keep it on silent or in a desk drawer.
How long do you take to complete tasks?
As well as figuring out what time of day you’re at your most productive, it’s a good idea to time yourself in general in order to make a realistic plan of what you can get done in time.
Do you have any bad habits?
Do you end up taking endless coffee breaks, but then eating at your desk? Are you eating right? Are there too many people around you to stop and chat? Having said that involving other people can be a great way to motivate yourself. Nominate someone in your family to report your productivity or even hire a professional. For more advice on how to shake things up a bit at work look to great bloggers like anna macko.