With 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week, you’d think we have enough time to conquer our to-do lists!
Unfortunately, most of our time can be wasted when we don’t know how to manage it properly. If you’re tired of feeling like you don’t accomplish enough during your workday, I have a few tricks that might help!
1. Try the Pomodoro Technique
You could also purchase a timer to put on your desk. There’s dozens of methods you can use to manage your time, but the Pomodoro Technique has always worked best for me.
It’s simple to use: You start by selecting a task and setting your timer for 25 minutes. The goal is to stay focused and immerse yourself in the task for the duration of that time. Once your timer goes off, you’re rewarded with a five minute break!
Do whatever you want to do: Take a walk, grab a cup of coffee, or check your Instagram. Then you’ll repeat the cycle all over again.
Once you’ve completed four Pomodaros, you get to take your extra long break, twenty to thirty minutes. This allows your brain to rest before you start a whole new round.
I like the Pomodoro Technique because it structures your attention fairly between both work time and free time. No more feeling guilty about your “breaks” that once turned into hours of distraction.
The Pomodoro Technique won’t be most effective for everyone, but it’s definitely worth trying out. After all, the goal is to find the method of time management that works for you and stick to it!
2. Have a Morning Routine
There’s no better way to start your day! Whether you wake up at 5AM or noon, everyone can have a structured morning.
The first step is finding what you need to get out of bed. That might mean leaving your phone across the room at night so that you have to get out of bed to turn off your alarm when you wake up. Maybe it means making a fresh cup of coffee ASAP. Whatever you need to rub the sleep out of your eyes.
Once you’re out of bed, try activating your mind and body with an activity. Yoga, stretching, or a morning workout will get your blood flowing and your muscles in motion. Bonus: this can be done either at home or at the gym.
Or you could also try morning meditation, which is perfect for clearing your mind and starting your day with a clean slate. If you prefer mental stimulation instead, try a brain-training app like Elevate, which has fun and easy activities to keep you engaged.
3. Have a Plan
Whether it’s in your daily planner or notes in your phone, you should always lay out a game plan for your day. You won’t be able to accomplish much if you don’t know what you need to do!
Prioritizing your agenda is the key to a productive workday.
Taking ten minutes every day to prepare yourself for what’s ahead will help you be more organized and efficient.
- Do you need to set up an hourly timetable or create a to-to list?
- What’s the most effective way to remember your tasks?
- Do you have any events or meetings to attend?
- Are there emails to send?
Write it all down, the good, the bad, and especially the ugly.
Know your priorities, because not every task will be urgent. In fact, sometimes you have to be willing to push some things aside. Pay close attention to deadlines, because those will always be an excellent way to guide and strategize your workflow.
If you can’t fit it all in one day, don’t stress! That’s why there’s always tomorrow. Simply start a new list for your next day, and be ready to conquer it to the best of your abilities.
As you go throughout your day, be sure to check off every task that’s completed! There’s nothing greater than the feeling of accomplishment that comes from seeing a to-do list full of checkmarks.
Set goals for your day, week, and month. Keep them somewhere easily accessible. These can be separated into categories like physical, mental, emotional, digital, spiritual, work, social, etc.
When you keep a vision for your day in close sight, it’s easier to stay focused on what’s most important.
4. Minimize Digital Distractions
Distractions can come in any form, and they’re always going to be around. The best way to minimize them is through recognition and action!
If you’re like me and your phone might be your biggest distraction, know that there’s always a solution. Personal emails, texts from friends, and especially social media can all be culprits of stealing your time. If you have amazing self-discipline, you can always leave your phone in another room while you work. Sometimes keeping it out of sight (in a drawer or your purse) is a simple solution to the problem.
In our world of constant contact, phone buzzing, and notifications, it can be easy to forget what’s truly important. Remember that not everything is an emergency!
Most of the things that pop up on your phone can wait a few hours while you’re busy. Work first; play later. Your phone games and social media notifications will still be there when you finish.
Putting your phone in “Do Not Disturb” mode or turning off notifications from certain apps can be an even better way to cultivate a digital distraction-free work environment!
If you need some extra motivation, try downloading an app like Forest. It lets you plant a virtual tree which will continue to grow only as long as you stay within the app. The longer you stay focused, the more beautiful trees you can grow!
If you spend a lot of time on your computer, the same idea applies. You can limit outside distractions by using applications like Self Control, Focus, or Stay Focused. Applications like this allow you to shut out websites that might be stealing your productivity hours!
5. Take Care of Your Physical Body
Even if you’re a master of the tips above, you’ll still be missing a key aspect of productivity. Your mind and body matter most when it comes to your ability to stay focused and accomplish tasks.
You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anything else!
Eat regular meals. You hear it all of the time, but it’s the truth! Food is fuel, and your body is the tank. Food turns into energy, and energy can translate into higher productivity.
Breakfast and lunch are especially important during the workday, because those are the hours where your brain is working the hardest. Keep track of your metabolism as well. If you know that 10:30AM is your mid-morning slump, keep a healthy snack nearby to help you push forward!
Drink water and lots of it. Even if you think you’re drinking enough water, you’re probably not. A hydrated body is a healthy one, and a healthy body is likely to be more productive. Keep your favorite water bottle close, and drink at regular intervals in your workday!
Sleep, sleep, sleep! The benefits of a good night’s rest can’t be understated.
Your brain can only handle so much and giving it the rest it needs each night will fill your days with more room for creativity and productivity. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule will also help you wake up more easily and feel abundantly less tired throughout the day.
If you find yourself in the “midday slump” far too often in your workday, it’s definitely time for a change. Integrating new strategies can help you cultivate a lifestyle of greater productivity that will leave you satisfied and feeling accomplished!
Mercy Barrial is a senior at Wheaton College (IL) studying Communication Media Studies and Journalism and planning to enter the marketing industry after graduation. She serves as Chair of the Media Team, Arts and Entertainment Editor for the Wheaton Record, and she works as a Media Relations intern for the Marketing and Communications Department.