Do you ever feel like time is slipping away from you? Well, you aren't alone.
Many of us wish we had just a few more hours every day to accomplish the things we need to get done. Sadly, there is no magical way to add more hours to the day. However, you can learn to take back the time you do have.
How? By optimizing your focus and how you work as a way to enhance productivity and make the most of your time every day. To help you out, we're sharing six simple ways to reclaim your time and get back on track to get you ready to take on 2018.
1. Implement the Pomodoro Technique
If you're having trouble staying focused and tackling your to-do list, you may want to start integrating the Pomodoro Technique into your daily routine. This technique works by helping you ignore the Distractions around you and get incredibly focused on your tasks by working in short bursts. You also take breaks in between those working bursts as a way to reward yourself, relax and to take a moment to recharge before diving back in.
To get started with the Pomodoro Technique, you'll want to grab a timer. You can use a kitchen timer or even set a timer on your phone. Next, set the timer for 25 minutes (also known as your Pomodoro). During those 25 minutes, focus intently on whatever task it is that you need to accomplish. Don't take any breaks. Don't switch tasks. And certainly, don't give into any distractions competing for your attention.
Once the timer rings and those 25 minutes are up, you're free to take a break. Ideally, you'll take a quick five minute break to serve as a mini refresher. After your break is over, set the timer for another 25 minutes and get back to work.
Working on and off so frequently may sound crazy at first, but research actually backs it up. It works by giving the brain what it wants as it starts to get fatigued--a break. However, you limit that break to mitigate wasting any time.
2. Optimize Your To-Do List
We all make lists for the tasks we need to accomplish, but it's much more effective if we can be strategic about how we create and use those lists. Here are a few tips that you can keep in mind when you create your next to-do list.
First, consider writing your to-do list the day before. When you're ending your work day and about to leave the office, take a few minutes to jot down a list of things you need to get done the next day. By doing this, everything is still fresh in your mind and you won't have to worry about forgetting anything by the next morning. Plus, this saves you time the next day because you'll be able to enter the office ready to go with a list of things to accomplish.
Next, it's a good idea to keep your to-do lists simple. A list of 20 different things you need to accomplish can be pretty overwhelming and actually have the opposite effect on your productivity by leaving you stuck in "procrastination station". To avoid this, don't go overboard with your lists. It's often recommended to keep your lists to just the top three things you need to do that day
And finally, break down your bigger projects into smaller, actionable steps. When we have to-do lists that are filled with these gigantic projects, it's often daunting to look at. And sometimes it leaves us wondering how we'll ever get anything done. Instead, you want to break everything down into smaller tasks that you can easily track and incorporate into your day. It's much easier to manage like this.
3. Remove Distractions Entirely
Unfortunately, one of the biggest causes of a lack of productivity stems from the distractions all around us. We get so caught up in messages on our phones, our inboxes, and Social Media. It's easy to get sucked in and then glance up at the clock, only to wonder where all the time has gone.
To avoid wasting your time so you can get back on track, you need to eliminate the distractions around you. Close the browser tab that houses your inbox so you won't be tempted to check it every time a new message pops up. Log out of your social media accounts and make a dedicated time for checking social media during the day. And don't forget to silence the notifications on your phone because those pinging sounds for new messages are only tearing you away from your work.
If you need extra help avoiding distractions, try using an app like StayFocusd or Freedom (for your phone).
4. Learn to Delegate Small Tasks
One thing that so many of us struggle with is delegation. We all want to be in complete control of our work and therefore find ourselves doing everything instead of asking for help. The reality is, this just isn't efficient for us and it often takes time away from some of the bigger, more important tasks we need to tackle.
If you have someone who can help you out, don't be afraid to delegate smaller tasks that have become major time drainers for you. This is a great way to add some more hours back into your day because it's less work that you need to tackle. If you don't currently have any additional help, consider hiring an assistant or virtual assistant.
5. Boost Your Energy Throughout the Day
If you need to boost your energy as a way to get back on track with your work, you certainly aren't alone. Research by Virgin Pulse has shown that 76% of workers feel tired many days of the week and 15% even fall asleep during the day at least once per week.
If you've founder yourself hitting that afternoon slump, there are a couple of things you can do about it.
One of my personal secret productivity hacks is taking a coffee nap. It's pretty simple, all you have to do is drink a cup of coffee and then follow it up with a 20-minute rest. By drinking the coffee quickly and immediately taking a nap, your body will process the caffeine as you nap (and recharge your brain). This not only lets you rest, letting you feel refreshed, but you'll also wake up with extra energy due to the caffeine. Remember not to rest any longer than that or else it could leave you feeling groggy and have the reverse effect from what you want.
Another option is to try out some specialty supplements on the market today that are meant to give your brain an added boost during the day. They are often referred to as "nootropics" and can be great for enhancing your memory as well as overall cognitive function. Be sure to do your research so you're not just taking a caffeine pill that will make you feel jittery and lead to a nasty crash later in the day.
6. Take Advantage of Lunch Breaks
For those of you who are guilty of often working through your lunch breaks, it's time to stop. Taking a proper break for lunch can be very beneficial due to its ability to help clear your mind and replenish your energy.
Instead of working, take the time to actually shut down for lunch. Walk away from your desk and get something filling and nutritious to eat. Having the right food is going to put you in a better mood and give your body the energy it needs to keep pushing you through the day.