6 Tips for a More Productive Work Day
I am somewhat obsessed with productivity. As a multi-passionate person with a short attention span, it can feel like my ever-growing to-do list never gets done. There is always more I wish I had accomplished each day – both personally and professionally – and I long for more hours.
Each one of us here at Choice is interested in this topic, and we are continually tapping resources and sharing ideas for how to work smarter. There are so many people we follow, podcasts we listen to, and books and blogs we read to get ideas. A few of our favorites include:
- Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner
- The Everygirl’s Career section
- The Science of Success Podcast with Matt Bodnar
- Beyond the To-Do List Podcast
- A Day in Progress Podcast
I’ve taken a bit away from each of these resources, as well as tracking what is working and what isn’t to make sure I am using my time wisely and getting as much done each day, while still enjoying life and having some downtime.
Here are six tips for a more productive work day:
- Wake Up Early: This one is still so hard for me, even after years of doing it. I am not a natural morning person and can easily stay up until one in the morning if I have a good book in my hands. But, I’ve found that if I don’t hit snooze and get some coffee right away, my entire day feels different. I typically tackle some household tasks in the morning – I put dishes away from the night before, fold laundry, or run the vacuum. I also like to get a workout and a shower in before I start the workday. All of this starts my day off in the right mindset and I feel super productive the rest of the day.
- Don’t Over Plan: This is one tip I’ve heard often, but truly put into practice after using the Full Focus Planner. I used to list out ALLLLLL my tasks in my planner, and then when I only got eight of them done, the day felt like a failure. Now, I try to keep less than ten tasks on my list, but I truly prioritize three of those things. I also tackle those first. So, if I get everything done by noon, I move on to the rest of my to-do list. If not, I don’t feel like I’ve failed that day because I was realistic with what I could get done.
- Work at Your Best Time: This is something our entire team does – we work at our most creative times. While we, of course, are available during a typical work day, I often do writing at 6:00am when no one is on Slack, no one is in email, and it’s just me, my dog and a cup of coffee. I see Devin Lee on Slack at those times too, but we tend to leave each other alone to do our deep thinking work. I also know Sarah likes to do design work late at night when she’s feeling most creative. Knowing when you work best on certain tasks is an essential tool for productivity. And, having a leader that allows you to work at those times is crucial to the process, too.
- Plan Ahead: I spend part of my time working at home and part of my time traveling with clients or working three hours away in Nashville. The amount of work I get done in a work-from-home day is drastically different from the amount of work I get done when I drive three hours, work in the office, attend meetings, and spend quality time with the other Choice ladies. I’ve learned through the years to not just look ahead at my week, but also the following week. If I am gone three days one week, I shift my priorities the week before to get tasks done early. If we have a holiday coming up, we all plan accordingly. It’s important to look a few steps ahead.
- Batch Work: This is a tip I’ve just recently adopted, and it’s changed my days in the best way possible. If I know I have four or five calls to schedule, I try to put them on the same day. As I am writing this blog post (yes, it’s 5:45am…per tip #3), I have three other writing pieces on my list after this. Batch working allows me to focus on certain tasks, rather than mentally switching from one thing to another. This also keeps me focused on what I am doing, rather than checking emails or Slack messages when I should be writing or researching.
- Clock Your Time: I am a big believer in clocking time, both during work hours and outside of them. This keeps me accountable to myself. Have you ever found yourself thinking, “My gosh, how long have I been scrolling through Instagram???” or “Wait, how many episodes of ‘Gilmore Girls’ have I watched?” That is me all the time. So I put parameters around the things that can be time-wasters. I have a 25-minute reminder set on Instagram and I try to only binge watch things when I am doing other tasks – cleaning, organizing, meal prepping, house renovations. Don’t get me wrong, I still have occasional lazy Sundays on the couch with my husband and pup. But, I really try to monitor what I am doing so I don’t feel guilty or wish I had spent my day differently.
The above list can feel overwhelming if you try to implement it all at once. Take it one step at a time! One week, you may try to wake up one hour earlier. One week, you could try batching all your meetings or calls on one day. One day you could try writing in the morning, and the next day writing in the evening to see when you feel most inspired. Finding what works best for you, your schedule, and your daily tasks is an important part of the productivity puzzle.
We would love to hear from you about how you tackle your to-do list and stay productive. Share them below!