Guest post by Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life
We’ve all had days when we are physically present at work, sitting at our desks for 8 hours, but with absolutely nothing to show for it at the end of the day. Not only is it frustrating, but if you’re trying to build a business, it can really hurt your bottom line. Getting caught up in conversations with clients or colleagues, browsing through too much social media online, and squandering time completing menial tasks are all huge time wasters. By identifying them, though, you’ll be able to avoid these pitfalls and improve your daily productivity at work.
One of the biggest time wasters can happen before you even get to work: Sitting in your car, crawling through stop-and-go traffic is a time-sucking epidemic. If you face an hour commute to and from work, you are extending an already long workday into 10 hours or longer. Plus, sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic adds stress, saps energy, and doesn’t put you in a conducive mindset to begin your day.
To minimize commuting stress, look into carpooling or public transit options in your area. If things get bad enough, you might even consider moving to a smaller city, like Charlotte, for instance, that offers the big-city feel without the accompanying roadway congestion. Not only will you breeze to and from work, but you’ll be close to the mountains and the beach — perfect for relaxing after a long work week.
I know, we all need a little mental break now and then at work. Sticking to the grind for 8 hours straight each and every day can quickly lead to burnout. It makes sense to take 10 minutes to yourself here and there, to check your phone or dabble on social media — but staying too long on social media can become a big time waster.
Having Facebook or Instagram at the ready on your phone all day can pose a major distraction. To avoid getting sucked down the social media rabbit hole, try silencing your phone to eliminate constant notifications. Instead, allot just 10 minutes in the middle of your day to get caught up on your social media life.
Sometimes it can seem like the weight of the world is on your shoulders at work; you have so much to do, yet don’t really accomplish anything. So take a close look at how you use your time and energy. Make sure they’re being used to accomplish high-functioning, high-value tasks.
If you find the majority of your time is being spent on menial, time-consuming activities, that might be a perfect opportunity to delegate some responsibilities to a co-worker. Delegation is a great way to clear your plate of some responsibility while helping develop and train an associate and also knock down the items on the company to-do-list. Everybody wins!
Our productivity levels throughout the day form one big wave, spiking at points (probably following our morning coffee) and then dipping at other points (like after a big lunch). Understanding your most productive time periods can help you better manage your day.
Try to plan any detailed, thought-intensive tasks for the times when you know you’ll have the most energy and bandwidth to accomplish them. Leave menial or time-consuming tasks to the intervals when you have lower energy or a limited attention span. Energy peaks and valleys throughout the workday are completely normal, but knowing how to take advantage of them will help you make the best use of your time.
There is a time and place to catch up with your co-workers after the weekend. It’s fun to have friendships at work, which can ultimately improve employee satisfaction and productivity. But too much chatter can be detrimental. Continually getting ensnared in conversations, or simply listening to the chatter surrounding you, can start to negatively impact your job.
Try using headphones to block out the noise, especially during periods requiring intense focus. This signals to others that you’re concentrating and not available to talk. Listening to music can help you not only decrease distractions, but simultaneously increase creativity and productivity. Some people even have success with noise-canceling headphones, clearing out the mental space with some simple white noise as they work through the daily grind.
One of the sneakiest office time wasters is a disorganized workspace. The few extra minutes it takes for you to find each file or document can quickly add up throughout the day or week and contribute to a scattered feeling. Try utilizing tools to help organize your computer and files. Online cloud storage is an excellent way to create a system for quickly storing, locating, and organizing the documents you need. Not only can the cloud help you regulate your work life, but it also makes your information accessible to whomever you wish, from anywhere, with just an internet connection.
If your day-to-day routine is a scramble from one activity to another, you may benefit from organizing your time in a way that highlights exactly what needs to be accomplished for the day. Creating a to-do list is an excellent way to pinpoint what must be accomplished and help you stay organized.
Try making tomorrow’s to-do list the night before you leave work, starting with items you didn’t get a chance to finish today. It’s important to remember that to-do lists are flexible, working documents that will see additions and changes throughout the day. Build your to-do list with new tasks as the day progresses — and feel the satisfaction of crossing off items (with a big red pen, of course!) as you complete them.
It’s definitely not a great feeling to end a day without seeing anything meaningful accomplished. But by taking charge of your environment, habits, and schedule using these helpful tips, you can transform a do-nothing day into an I-got-it-all-done day, and leave your desk feeling proud.