With all the pressure at work, it’s easy to find yourself spending way too many nights playing the catch-up game. These late nights can damage your health and your home life.
You may feel like you need to meet certain expectations or risk losing your job. In reality, though, the work is never finished, but productivity is noticed. The trick is to make every hour count.
These productivity hacks will help you make the most of your work hours so that you can go home at a decent time and feel proud of the work you’ve accomplished.
1. Identify the Top Tasks
In order to leave the office with a clear conscience, there are some things that have to be completed.
Ask yourself, “What really NEEDS to be done today?”
Once you’ve identified these tasks, use an office letter board to create a plan or timetable in which outlines when you need to complete each task to leave by the end of the day.
Focus on these things first and don’t add smaller tasks until you’ve done the big things.
- Do the Hardest Tasks in the Morning
If you know that you have something difficult that needs to be done that day, do it first thing in the morning. That way, if it does take longer than expected, it won’t keep you at work late.
Also, by doing the hardest stuff first, you’ll get a feeling of accomplishment that will propel you through the rest of the day.
3. Limit Distractions
There are so many things that can pop up in your day that will distract you from your work.
Some of these things you can’t control, but some you can. If you take steps to limit your distractions during the day, you’ll be able to get more done and leave earlier.
Emails come in at all hours of the day, but constantly checking your email can distract you from the task at hand. Try turning your email notifications off and checking your email only twice a day.
When you are using a computer, work offline as much as possible. The internet can become a wormhole faster than expected. It only takes one second to get sucked into an ad and embark on an online shopping journey that lasts hours.
When you really want to get things done, you can even go so far as to silence your phone. One text or phone call can totally throw you off your work groove.
Another idea is to put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door. There may be times when you would welcome a small distraction from a coworker, but other times, you just want to get your work done.
4. Set Time Limits
A lot of tasks take more time than they need to. Meetings can run over, phone calls can drag on, and lunch breaks can become an afternoon break. All of these things cause projects to drag on longer than necessary.
To avoid this, set time limits for every activity. Obviously, you should have a deadline for tasks and projects, but you can also place limits on your breaks and social interactions.
When you’re talking to a coworker, for example, limit yourself to five minutes. That will encourage you to get back to work as soon as possible.
It can be a challenge to leave social situations when you don’t want to be rude. But if you let others know ahead of time how long you have and when you plan to leave, it will be expected and you won’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
5. Break Up Big Tasks With Smaller Ones
Breaking up big tasks with small ones can help you stay productive. It makes the bigger tasks less overwhelming.
If you are working on a big project, have a few small, simple tasks ready to go when you need to step away from the project for a while.
These small menial tasks still need to be done, but don’t require quite as much energy. In a sense, they are like productive breaks.
6. Eat for Brain Power
It’s important to fuel yourself to be productive. Eating healthy foods can help you do that.
Sugar and caffeine will only result in an afternoon crash. Try foods that give you a slow energy release instead.
Nuts and seeds, berry smoothies, and green tea are all a great pick-me-up when you are feeling low on energy. For more ideas, check out this list of energy-boosting snacks.
7. End Every Day the Same Way
When you have a normal wind-down routine for the end of each day, you’ll be more likely to leave the same time every evening.
You’ll be in the habit of starting this routine every day at about 5 p.m., ensuring that you will have enough time to complete the routine before you leave.
Your routine should include cleaning up, answering any emails or phone calls that can’t wait until tomorrow, and planning out your next day.
By using these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to leave the office on time every night. You’ll feel no guilt as you walk out the door to go home each evening.
Remember that work is only a part of your life. Other things are important, as well. Once you’re home, be sure to use your time effectively by spending time with loved ones and pursuing your passions.
This will help you to maintain a healthy work-life balance and keep you from being stressed, anxious, and overworked.
Avonte King-Henry is the Business Manager for Brixton, a high-end apartment community in Salt Lake City, Utah.