In 2023 it has become more and more challenging to stay on task while at work. Whether it be because you work from home or simply get easily distracted by everything going on in your office, it can be hard to stay on track. Keeping your mind sharp and your eye on the goal can be a difficult task.
However, by simply implementing a few productivity tips you can see a big improvement in your day-to-day work. So, this year give it a chance and try out implementing a few new productivity tips to hopefully improve your work and mental health. Here are our top 10 productivity tips for working in 2023.
1. To-Do List
Now making a to-do list may seem like a given; a tip everyone already knows. However, it can be a big help to write out everything you need to get done. Taking the time to go over everything you have on your plate can help you not only remember what needs to get done but set up a priority list.
First, put all major tasks and events in your calendar. Whether it is on your phone, laptop, work-computer, or a paper calendar simply write them down to ensure you know your major due dates or events. This way any time you check your calendar you are aware of what still needs to be done and by when.
Next, make a monthly to-do list. This can include regular tasks you do every month or new tasks for just this month. By making a monthly list you are aware of what needs to be completed before the end of the month.
Next, make a weekly to-do list. This may seem redundant, but having a separate list for each week allows you to break everything down into smaller more manageable bits. Rather than looking at one big list for a whole month you are looking at the smaller list for just this week. It also allows you to keep in mind urgent or upcoming events, projects, or tasks.
Finally, make a daily to-do list. This is not always necessary but can be helpful for those that like to know what they need to get done that day. It can also allow you to make a priority list instead. Lay out everything that needs to get done that day and in what order. That way you have a clear-cut plan for your day and don’t have to spend time worrying about what you need to do next.
If you really want to up your productivity game, split your daily to-do list into a MUST DO and TO DO list. Put down the items on your list which you absolutely must complete that day. Anything that can be completed later should go to the normal to-do list. Now hammer your MUST DO list and when you are done, you know, no matter how bad your productivity is after that, you’ve already completed all the items you had to.
2. Daily Goal
Going hand in hand with making a to-do list, setting yourself a daily goal can be very beneficial. Knowing your top priority or goal for that day is important and can help you plan the rest of your day around it. Your daily goal should not be an item on your to-do list. Going to the store to buy staples should not be your goal for the day.
Your daily goal also doesn’t always have to be big either. It can be something as simple as “take a break today” or “book a call with my financial adviser”. The main point of setting a goal is to ground your day and set yourself up for success. If you don’t complete everything you wanted to do that day it’s fine, don’t worry about it. At least at the end of the day you can say you completed your daily goal and be happy.
3. Set Times
If you are like a large majority of people and have a hard time going from one task to the next or knowing when to stop, set yourself timers or timed goals. Giving yourself a time limit can be very helpful. It allows you to know when to start and stop certain tasks, like checking your email. But it also allows you to plan your day.
Setting yourself specific times is very useful. You can say “I’m going to start this project at 10 am”, this will then hold yourself accountable if you don’t. You can also set yourself a timer, like only working on that one project for two hours. That way you aren’t overworking or forgetting about other tasks that need to get done.
4. Group Together Tasks
Start grouping together similar tasks. If you know you have some tasks that are similar in nature, like filling out different charts, writing, or getting back to clients then begin grouping them together. This allows you to complete more than one task while in the same mind set. If you are jumping all over the place from writing emails to drafting graphs then back to emails, you are having to change how you are thinking about your tasks constantly. But by grouping together similar tasks you can stay in the same mindset and get more work done.
5. Say “No”
Now this has been said time and time again, but some people still have a hard time remembering it, say “no”. It is okay to say “no” to people, whether it be your co-worker, boss, or even your spouse. You can say “no” and not feel bad about it. If you know that you already have too much on your plate do not take on more, it will only set you back and cause you to take a hit to your productivity.
There are of course instances in which you cannot say “no”, however, do not get those confused with the instances in which you can. If your boss tells you to do a new project, then you most likely can’t say no. However, if your boss asks you to email back a client because “you are better at handling them”, then you can say no. Saying “no” is not mean or rude, saying “no” is simply a part of making sure you don’t get overwhelmed.
6. Take Breaks
Remember to take breaks. Taking breaks is very important to staying productive because it allows your brain to just take a minute to relax. Think of it as exercise, if you want to exercise for one hour don’t spend the whole hour exercising. All this is going to do is exhaust you in 20 minutes or less and then the rest of your workout is going to be worse because you don’t have the energy to keep going at full speed. However, if you take the time to take a break every so often, then you can continue to exercise at full strength.
The same goes for working, if you work too much all at once you are going to get tired, but taking a break allows you to do more and better work overall. Also take a break from screens. Now that screens are everywhere it can be hard to take a break from them. But remember the blue light of the screen can be harmful for your eyes, so taking small breaks from it can help you feel better overall.
7. Dedicated Workspace
With more people working from home these days it can be hard to stay on task. However, by setting yourself up a dedicated workspace you can make it a little easier to stay on track. Not everyone is going to have access to a home office, and it can be hard to find space in smaller homes. But by simply setting up a clean workspace with a desk and your laptop or computer it can sometimes be enough. Perhaps adding in a partition of sorts can also be beneficial as it can block out the rest of the space.
8. Remove Distractions
Along with having a dedicated workspace, removing distractions can also be very helpful for staying on task. If you work from home, try working away from things like your T.V. or other people in the house. If you can’t get away from people in the house such as children, set ground rules, like “only bug me if you need help or it’s an emergency” or set timers for your kids, or even try and work around their schedules if possible.
If you work in an office space trying a remove as much distraction as you can. Because it is a public space distraction can sometimes be unavoidable, but mitigating as much as you can is always helpful. Put your phone on do not disturb, wear headphones, or put up a sign on your door saying do not disturb. Anything you can do to eliminate distractions can be very beneficial.
9. Don’t Wait for Motivation
Very simply, don’t wait for motivation to hit you to start working. Chances are you are going to be waiting all day. Just start. It can be hard sometimes, but by just starting and not waiting or thinking about it, you will often find that motivation will come along as well.
There is a relatively new trend, called the Ugly Hour, and it says that you should take the first hour of your day to attack the worst item on your to-do list. The trend is new, but the concept is not. Also referred to as ‘Eating the Frog’, the idea that you attack the most tedious task first has been around for a long time.
This way, when your energy wanes, and the mid-afternoon slump hits you, you won’t be staring down the barrel of your nightmare task. Tackle it when you’re fresh and alert and it will be easier to get through.
Finally, stay hydrated. Working is hard, so remember to stay hydrated as it keeps you sharp and aware and is beneficial for your mental and physical health. Also, if you are hydrated you are more likely to get more work done because you will feel better overall and less lethargic.
Hopefully you can learn from or implement some of these productivity tips into your daily lives. If not, hopefully they at least spark some inspiration or motivation within you to be more productive in your work. For more helpful tips, or other content relating to small businesses check out REM’s blog page and other website content.