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Squeeze More Out of Your Day: 7 Tips to Stay On-task


Looking to get more out of your day? These seven tips will help you check off at least most of the items on your to-do list.

1. Eat your frog.

Well, not literally (I mean, unless you like frog legs); but in the productivity sense - this is great advice from time management expert, Brian Tracy. Don’t “warm up” to work. Dive in. Begin your day by tackling your most important (which can be, but isn’t necessarily your most time-consuming) task. 

Reevaluate throughout the course of the day, decide what’s most important and spend the bulk of your time on those tasks until they are complete.

We posted a blog about productivity tips a few weeks ago. It was from the angle of multitasking actually costing you MORE time and making you less effective at GSD (getting stuff done) in the long run. Don’t forget, it takes an average of 23 minutes to get back on track after an interruption - think about that the next time someone asks you if “you’ve got a minute.”

To keep you focused and on-task, here are six more business productivity tips that are almost as “tasty” as eating a frog.

2. Write it Down.

Whether you have the memory of an elephant or of a goldfish, take the time to write down the tasks you want to accomplish for the day (at least for the day, but even consider weekly, quarterly, yearly, and “someday” lists too). Make sure you use a tool that you’ll actually use, so choose one that’s the most comfortable for you. This could be:

  • Smartphone notes
  • Outlook task list
  • To-do list apps on your smartphone or tablet - search “to-do list” or “task list” on iTunes or Google Play and you’ll find a variety to choose from
  • Pen and paper
  • Word document on your computer
  • A planner (could be a Franklin Planner or a planner from Target - they both get the job done)
  • Whatever else you think would work for you

Your brain releases endorphins when you finish something. You can actually even become addicted to this feeling over time. So, make sure you check tasks off as you accomplish them - feel those endorphins? Feels pretty darn good, right?

3. Break it Up.

This might sound contradicting sense this is all about focus, but you also need to give you brain a break. The Draugiem Group revealed research that indicated that productive people take breaks - with 52 minutes of work followed by 17 minutes of rest being the ideal balance. Get up. Walk around. Stretch. Listen to some music - whatever helps you get to a place of Zen. Check social media. Chat with co-workers about the movie you saw last weekend. Get in a heated debate over politics and the upcoming election (well, don’t do that - probably won’t accomplish the Zen feeling you’re looking for).

It’s OK to take a break, and even productive in the long run. Check out this article from Fast Company for an overview of the research.

4. Schedule in Blocks.

Touching back on the idea that once you’ve been interrupted it can take up to 23 minutes for you to refocus yourself back on task, as often as you can, schedule your meetings in blocks back to back. I’m sure you’ve experienced plenty of days where you have 30 minutes in between meetings that you spent executing absolutely nothing because your mind was already on the next meeting or processing the one you just had. And keep the meetings short. They should be efficient and productive.

5. Get Away.

Most companies have retreats outside of their office, and they have them for a reason. It’s easy to become distracted in your regular office setting, so leave. Change your surroundings. This can trigger a response that tells you you’re there to accomplish a task. Go to a coffee shop, work at home, go to a library, book a conference room, try going outside - anywhere different, anywhere you won’t be disturbed (and then be sure to turn off your phone and email notifications). 

If you aren’t able to get away (or it’s not always wise or even possible), check out mentally. Set your “out of office.” Close the door. Put up a do not disturb sign. Do whatever you need to do to get people to leave you alone. Who knows, maybe they’ll even answer their own question or solve their own problem while you’re “away.” 

6. Give Co-workers a Heads-up.

Now, if you wrap yourself in yellow police tape without warning it could come across as rude. So, as a precautionary, let your co-workers know that you’re taking the next X amount of time to focus on a project (keep the “Do Not Cross” tape handy - just in case they still don’t leave you alone).

7. Cut Yourself Some Slack.

Almost everyone has seen 5 on the clock and thought, “what did I even do today?!?!” You feel like you’ve accomplished nothing. Don’t beat yourself up. Let it go, move on, and do better tomorrow.

And there they are; seven tips to help you squeeze more out of your workday.


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Topics: Productivity Tips and Tools