Believe it or not, the routine you establish for the first 10 minutes or so after you walk into your office can set your day up for success — or for failure. So, what do you do when you first get to work? If these five tasks didn't make your list, then you may want to reevaluate your morning routine. Perfecting it can help boost workplace productivity and happiness.
1. Limit Distractions
An office that is full of people coming and going might be great for collaborative projects, but it can also be incredibly distracting. Add to that calls, texts and emails from home and it's no wonder you are struggling to concentrate throughout the day. Luckily, you can work to fix these by limiting the number of distractions you allow in your space. If you have a dedicated office, try closing the door. This will discourage people from coming in unannounced and give you a chance to focus. If you are in an open space, and it is allowed, buy yourself a set of noise-canceling headphones. They send out a universal signal of "leave me alone" and you get the added bonus of listening to music that inspires you throughout the day.
Some distractions come from sources outside of work. Talk to your family and explain that when you are at work you need to focus on actual work. An occasional call or text might be fine, but asking you to read Dr Marty pets reviews and decide if it's the right choice for your dog is pushing it. While you will always maintain your family responsibilities, you will be much better prepared to handle them if you can leave work at the office. To do that, you need to actually get it done. If your family can handle the fire without you, ask them to do that.
2. Take a Few Minutes to Reflect and Be Present
One thing that the most successful workers agree on is that you need to be focused on the workday instead of letting all the stuff going on at home run unchecked through your mind. Take five minutes when you walk into the office to regroup your thoughts, be present in the moment and prepare yourself mentally for the day ahead. If you are unfamiliar with mindfulness techniques, take an afternoon to try a couple of them out and find one that works for you. This might be a really great place for a visualization exercise to encourage success.
3. Get Yourself Organized and Map Out Your Day
An organized and well-planned workday will flow more smoothly than a chaotic one. That much is common sense. Getting yourself to that point is a whole other story. Learn how to organize tasks and map out your day to optimize productivity. It can be helpful to focus the most time and attention on tasks that are the most important. Intersperse smaller, less intense projects in between them. Be sure to schedule time to take breaks and check in on your progress. There is no point working for hours only to realize you've gone off track.
4. Don't Try to Multitask
While multitasking can make it seem like more is getting done, it actually increases mistakes and reduces productivity in the long run. This is going to be hard to take, but you need to stop trying to do more than one thing at a time. Close those extra windows and tabs on your monitor; they are a distraction that will draw your attention away from what you should be working on. Don't try to handle more than two things at a time. If you can limit your focus to a single task for 20 minutes at a stretch, that's even better. Before you start to argue about your multitasking prowess, you should know that this research shows that the people who think they are best at multitasking actually tend to be worse at it than others.
5. Learn to Say No to Requests
Be honest with yourself for a minute here. How many times in the past month have you taken on more work than you could realistically handle or work that was not your responsibility to complete because you didn't want to say "no" to the request? In this age where employers are asking workers to take on more work in less time, it can be difficult to turn down a request. Yet, taking on extra work can cause the quality of work to suffer in order to meet unrealistic deadlines for your workload. That's why you need to learn to say "no" to certain requests that will put you over your personal limit. Before you start turning people down left and right, know that there is a right way to decline requests tactfully so that you don't hurt feelings or jeopardize your position.
Being proactive by reflecting on projects, mapping your workday and focusing on key tasks helps you see where your work is needed most. Once you do that, limiting distractions and avoiding attempts to multitask will keep you on track.