In the work world, there’s a lot of talk about the 3 p.m. afternoon slump. It’s the time of the day when your brain refuses to cooperate with the pile of work you need to finish before the workday ends. When your brain is fatigued, distractions like text messages, social media applications and chatting with co-workers fill the void, preventing you from being productive.
However, it is not just the afternoons that can really slow you down. There’s a 10 a.m. mid-morning slump where our bodies begin to dip and easily become distracted. Worse than the afternoon slump, we develop a feeling of crankiness and edginess, losing concentration and becoming unproductive.
Learning how to be productive at work is actually easy, and these productivity hacks will show how to get the most out of your mornings. These tips can also apply to the afternoon slump, so it’s like hitting two birds with one stone.
Tip 1: Make a Plan
Before starting any work in the morning, and that means all tasks, make a plan of what needs to be accomplished for that day. Doing this will help ensure that nothing important gets missed. Even if one of your coworkers pulls you out for a quick morning coffee, you know in the back of your mind that there are tasks that still need to be done. You don’t need a lot of time to plan your mornings, a quick five minutes is usually enough to summarize your activities. Every day, try your best to follow this routine to use your time productively.
- Prioritize your tasks by creating a to-do list in the morning. To maintain focus, write down your top three goals and activities for that day, and don’t leave your work until you’ve accomplished all those goals. Keep in mind that if you started your day right, chances are good that you’ll finish everything that needs to be completed in time.
- Planning your morning the night before is equally effective to help condition your mind on how to be productive at work. Instead of spending a couple of minutes planning your day upon arrival at the office, you’ll get straight to work and tackle your to-do list immediately.
For your to-do list, you can use Trello. Its boards, lists, and cards help you achieve exactly the goals mentioned above: organize and prioritize your projects and tasks!
Tip 2: Silence Your Notifications
When used correctly, mobile phones are amazing tools for both work and communication. Providing us with a convenient and efficient way of doing things, smartphones can increase productivity by keeping us organized and connected. But they can also be a major work distraction. Research shows that employees waste at least 2 hours a day by simply checking their smartphones. 65% of that time is lost to personal messaging, 44% to reading news, and 24% of the wasted time is due to shopping websites.
- Turn off your notifications to minimize distractions. Whether it’s email notifications, text messages, push notices, app notifications, or daily entertainment reports, make sure to turn them off. Put your phone in do not disturb mode to avoid distractions and stay focused.
- If you have important phone calls or are waiting for a crucial email, you can always customize the settings of your phone to receive notifications from specific people. But to prevent burn out set a time or an interval when you’re allowed to check your phone for messages, play a quick game, or do some web browsing.
Tip 3: Handle Your Email First
Emails can pile up quickly, and the number of messages you receive can be overwhelming. The question of how to be productive at work can be accomplished, in part, by cleaning your inbox every day. Don’t let an inbox full of messages stand in the way of your productivity. Instead, follow these rules to keep your mail under control.
- Send less email if you want to receive less email. This is the golden rule of email management. Sending too many emails and receiving too many responses will quickly fill your inbox. Also, it can be helpful to use acknowledgment receipts rather than directly responding to emails received. Less is more.
- Delete irrelevant emails as soon as you receive them and always practice the art of mark as unread. Marking messages as unread allows you to prioritize important emails without overlooking earlier messages. Though, your goal is to have few items marked as unread and none if possible.
Tip 4: Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep
Rest is the ultimate key to keep yourself, and your mind, healthy and sharp. Lack of sleep makes us groggy in the mornings and slower to respond throughout the day. A well-rested brain works smarter. You’ll be able to think clearly and maintain focus despite distractions. So if you want to be productive at work, make sure to get a good, undisturbed night’s rest. Healthy adults need at least seven to nine hours of sleep.
- Develop a bedtime routine and stick to it consistently. If you need to be in bed before 10 p.m. to get enough sleep, don’t make excuses or deals with yourself. Go to sleep. Designate asleep and wake-up time every day until your body naturally adapts to the new cycle. Following this routine will help you avoid hitting the snooze button because you’re tired, making you late or causing you to rush in the morning.
- Electronic devices emit a high concentration of blue light that affects sleep patterns. If you can, try to avoid the use of cellphones, tablets, and other mobile gadgets right before bedtime. But if you must, make sure to use an app that filters blue light to help reduce exposure.
Tip 5: Stimulate Your Brain
Our last tip on how to be productive at work is about stimulating your brain. Exercise your brain with non-work related tasks to help improve focus and stay productive. Putting your brain into game or competitive mode prepares you for day’s work. Early morning mental exercise is important to keep you alert, coherent, and active all throughout the day.
- Stimulating your brain can be both physical and mental. Set aside at least 20-30 minutes of your morning routine and carry out non-business related activities such as running or biking.
- If you prefer a fun task, try working on something that will trigger brain functions. Some people discover playing Tetris helps boost competition mode. Others find flipping a Rubik’s cube also helps them to think strategically in preparation for the challenging day ahead.