It doesn’t matter if you work in a cubicle, in an office, at a restaurant or study at university, we all know that one person that gets a lot more done than anyone around him or her.
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You both start typing a report on Monday; they’re done by Tuesday while you’re still messing around on Thursday. How is this possible? Are they some form of new human being? Or is it you?
In a way, it is you; or rather, your habits. Let’s have a look at some new and better habits you can learn to become more productive.
1. Make Lists
The number one trick is to make To-Do lists: make one for weekly tasks and then break it up into daily tasks. Those seven lists (Saturday and Sunday may not be workdays, but we put relaxation on the list, too) are then broken up again into segments: morning, afternoon, evening or whatever works for you, as some people are night owls.
The list will make it easy for you to arrange what needs to be done and when. Prioritizing just became a piece of cake, as well. It also makes it easy to take a break, which brings us to…
2. Take Breaks
A German saying has it best: the bow can’t always be strung.
We humans need to rest regularly to be productive. Take regular breaks by walking to the kitchen or water cooler and grabbing a glass of water.
Take a walk in the park when you can and clear your head. Have your lunch away from your workspace and with people you like so you can really take your mind off things. Do, however, stick to the time set aside for breaks on your list, because…
3. Don’t Get Distracted
Use your breaks to goof off, but work the rest of the time. Install pop-up blockers on your phone and computer so you aren’t pinged into distraction. Work when you said you would on your list and work hard, too. You already had a break five minutes ago, so you don’t get to take one now.
Knock out one more task before going for a glass of water. Keep at whatever you’re doing until it’s done and your productivity will soar. Even if it’s unpleasant, in fact…
4. Do The Unpleasant Stuff First
Start your day with the tasks you are looking forward to least and the rest of the day will be smooth sailing. Remember as a kid when your mom would put a plate of otherwise delicious food in front of you, but one corner had (yuck!) brussel sprouts on it (if you happen to like the green bullets from you-know-where, substitute with something else).
Now, if you worked your way through those horrible vegetables first, the rest of the meal was a pleasure. Your workday is not much different. Get through the bad stuff first so you can spend the rest of the day with positive emotions. On that note…
5. Define Success On Your Own Terms
The only way you’re going to be able to follow any of this advice is by feeling good about your work and by extension, yourself. The trick is to not let the amount of work that still needs to be done define your sense of accomplishment, but the amount you have already done.
Instead of panicking every time you think of everything that needs to be done in a day, look at what you’ve done and that sense of satisfaction will give you the strength and motivation to tackle the rest of it.
If you apply these five habits to your routine, you’ll be amazed at the results.