Though Ants are notoriously hard workers, we understand that sometimes it’s hard to keep your head in the game and make the most of your work day. Increasing your productivity is a challenge, but we’re here to help. Here are 10 tips for working smarter:
- Write down your daily goals
Writing tasks down helps you commit them to memory, and it’s also good to have an easily accessible reference for all the work you need to do that day. Write your list down on a Post-it or something that’s clearly visible from your desk so you can glance at it whenever you need to get back on track.
- Limit how much time you’re spending on tasks
Research suggests that only 17 percent of people are able to accurately estimate the passage of time. Keep your eye on the clock and actively limit the amount of time you spend on each task. The self-imposed time pressure will keep you from lingering on a single project and neglecting the others.
- Take breaks
Taking regular, short breaks during long tasks has been shown to help maintain productivity. In contrast, working at a long task without breaks is likely to lead to an eventual decline in productivity. Get up, stretch, walk around the office a bit! Do some jumping jacks! Then get back to work.
- Follow the “two-minute rule”
Entrepreneur Steve Olenski coined this phrase to describe his strategy for making the most of small windows of time. Here’s the idea: if you have a task on your radar that you know can be done in two minutes or less, you should do it immediately. It will take longer to return that task later; plus, knocking out a bunch of small tasks will streamline your workload and provide a sense of accomplishment.
- Get your most dreaded task out of the way
Once you take a crack at whatever awful project you’ve been avoiding, the rest of the work day will seem like a breeze. Afterward, you can focus on prioritizing and delegating your other tasks.
- Get fit
Carving out time during the work day to exercise may help improve productivity, according to some studies. If possible, build in times during the week to hit the gym or even just take a quick walk.
- Set aside time to answer messages
It’s good to make yourself available, but don’t allow incoming phone calls and emails to dictate how you spend your day. If possible, turn off notifications to eliminate distractions and set aside a chunk of time specifically for checking messages and voicemails.
- Personalize your space
Some research shows that working in a space with aesthetically pleasing elements can increase productivity by up to 15 percent. Houseplants in particular can help create a pleasant ambiance and are said to contribute to a productive environment. Decorate your desk to your liking, and at the beginning of each day take a few moments to de-clutter your workspace.
- Listen to music
Listening to your favorite music can help you get in the zone, and wearing headphones can subtly indicate to your coworkers that you don’t want to be disturbed. Those who get distracted easily by listening to music might want to consider Noisli instead—it’s a great app that lets you customize and mix ambient sounds to create the optimal work environment.
- Leave your desk for lunch
Abandoning your desk might keep you from getting some work done during your lunch hour, but it can also give you a much-needed break and help you mentally separate your work and leisure time. This is also a great opportunity to swing by a park and get some exercise and fresh air. Give yourself some time to collect your thoughts and return from your lunch re-energized and ready to roll!
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