Do you have a tendency for procrastination? Are you easily distracted? Has half the day disappeared without achieving much? Everyone has days like that but if it's a common situation for you, maybe this list of tips will help:
1) Make a list
It may seem odd to start with the final task of the day but it does make sense - honest! At the end of each day, compile a list of all the things you need / want to get done tomorrow so that you can hit the ground running without beginning your morning without a clue of what tasks require completion. Some people find it easier to make a list for the following week and simply add to it on a daily basis. Try both and see what works for you.
2) Start the day with a quick win
There's no better feeling than getting something on your to-do list checked off, so doing this at the start of each working day will encourage you to repeat this action. Taking the list you made the day before, choose one item that will be quick to achieve and you're already on your way to a successful day.
You have your list so now you just need to ascertain which tasks are the most critical for completion. A simple numbering system will focus your mind on the order that jobs should be tackled. There will be occasions when new tasks take priority over others so don't panic! Just take this in your stride and roll with the punches.
4) Tackle your least favourite tasks first
Everyone is guilty of leaving their least favourite tasks until last, however, this is a sure fire way of encouraging poor productivity and even risking bigger issues if your procrastination results in the tasks not being completed at all! It may not be a fun way to start the day but by undertaking the jobs you enjoy the least, you'll have a much more enjoyable end to the day and will finish your work on a much more positive note.
5) Look after yourself
Healthy body, healthy mind! Make sure you get enough sleep - this will differ from one person to the next but we all know what works for us individually. If you're one of the people that benefits from a quick power nap then do that too, but it doesn't work for everyone. Try to eat healthily to boost your energy levels and don't be snacking on high sugar or high caffeine products as these will only be a quick fix - you'll feel worse when the effects start to wear off and your productivity will take a nose dive.
6) It's easier to mow the grass than to sow the grass
Something that a past colleague of mine used to say. In other words, staring at a blank page will get you nowhere and will probably just make things worse. If you have to write copy for emails, reports, documents, letters or whatever else, it's better to write a bad first draft and have something to work on than to spend a ridiculous amount of time staring at nothing.
7) Protect your time
You are the master of your own universe. It's up to you to protect your own time so that you can achieve everything on your list. Meetings should only be held if you know what the purpose is. If you're having a meeting to discuss a meeting that took place yesterday or is being held tomorrow, then you really should be questioning why you're having a meeting about a meeting. You should also set aside certain times in the day when you don't answer your phone - you've got voicemail right?
8) Take a break
You might think that getting your head down and just working your way through the list is the best way forward - wrong! We all need to take a bit of time out to stretch our legs, get some air, make a cup of tea etc. Even if it's just for a few minutes, you'd be surprised how looking at something other than your computer screen can revitalise your thoughts and give you a new perspective on something you were working on.
9) Switch off!
You've worked hard today! Whether you've ticked off everything on your list or have at least made great headway, you need to rest. And that means not thinking over everything you've done, considering what you could have done better or envisaging what tomorrow will bring. It can be difficult to completely switch off so try to occupy your mind with something else; your family, a book, a movie, the theatre, tackling a new recipe for dinner, a long bath and soothing music, whatever takes your fancy! Just be sure to turn off the computer and leave the paperwork alone - it will all still be there in the morning.
10) Give yourself the gift of time
Some people are more productive than others - that's just the way it is. Just as some people are better with words than numbers, some people just have a natural flair for being organised and getting the job done. So, if you want to ensure that everything on your to-do list is completed effectively and on time, get yourself a Virtual Assistant!