Your mid-morning coffee and catch up with your co-workers are done and it is time to focus on the work you have been avoiding since the moment you walked in the door. The daunting path to your desk, where papers are misplaced and incomplete projects live, is screaming louder than it ever has before. There is so much to get done that you find yourself not completing anything at all. Well do not worry, you are not the only one in the world that has a problem with productivity at work. In fact, many people experience this every day. If you are one that finds yourself in the rut, here are a couple of tips to help you make the most of your workday and accomplish your tasks.

1. Prioritizing

This will not be a shock for many, but prioritizing can really affect the amount of work you get done and the quality of the work. It is important to prioritize not only your time but your task too. Putting the hardest task first ensures that it gets completed. If there are many like a task, doing them at the same time can cut down on the amount of time and energy you put forth into doing them separately. A good rule to remember while working is to work smarter not harder.

  • Technology is a great tool when used properly. Although some things at work may be repetitive, doing the task only once and linking it together can save a huge amount of time. When trying to communicate clearly, making a versatile message that you can send on different platforms, such as email, social media etc, can save time and trouble. A good example of this is Google/ Apple Calendars. If you are scheduling a meeting, do so in an online calendar, that way not only will it send you reminders, but you can also send an invite out to everyone who needs to attend. This will assure everyone is on the same page with a simple click of a mouse.

  • In addition to technology helping prioritize your time and work, it could also create some confusion. After a long week of work, sometimes things get unorganized. Using the “everything has a home” mentality really helps. This includes all files, emails, pictures and anything else that you may have saved on your hard drive. Taking a few minutes to create an organization system that works for you and your work can be super beneficial. Creating folders that are labeled exactly what’s inside makes sure that nothing gets lost, or deleted by accident. This should be made a priority because it helps you navigate your workday smoother and more efficient.

2. Setting Goals

Having many things to accomplish throughout the day can be overwhelming. However, it is not impossible. It is all about the execution of your tasks and having a plan to complete them. Like previously mentioned, prioritizing your task is the first step, as well as doing the hardest task first. Something that has recently become very popular in not only the workspace but also at home is setting a timer. Some people feel they work well under pressure, and that is exactly what this tactic does. Setting a timer for the tasks really tricks your mind into working as hard as it possibly can to finish on time or even to beat the clock. However, things do not always go as planned, so if a co-worker or boss comes in and requires your attention during your allotted time, make sure to give yourself a little more time.

  • Setting mini-goals throughout the day can keep you motivated and on task. These mini-goals can be within your work or within yourself. Work goals can be milestones you will reach, finished products, or even just stepping stones of bigger projects to be completed. Any type of goal reached is better than none.

  • Setting goals for yourself throughout the day that do not pertain to the actual work you do is important as well. It could even be something small like drinking a certain amount of water while you are at work, it is still something to be proud of. Making a goal to go through unopened emails and cleaning your area is small but necessary regimens. At the end of the day, you can leave feeling accomplished and will not be overwhelmed when you return in the morning. Everyone gets excited over completing something from start to finish even if it is just a small task.

3. The task is Realistic and Attainable

Often when we are setting goals or trying to be productive, we do not rationalize our strategy. We can end up with way too much on our plate, or the complete opposite of not doing enough. While divvying everything out to others is helpful and a great leadership skill to have, it can become unproductive at times because there is nothing for you to do, or you’re waiting on others to finish their task. Making sure the task is realistic and attainable is very important for success. You always want to push yourself and others to do their best and be the best version of themselves as they can, however, it important that you do not overdo it.

  • Having someone to hold you accountable is a great way to make sure you are remaining productive and meeting all your deadlines. If you are working as efficiently as possible and you are still not managing to get everything done that you are supposed to do, then you may have too large of a workload. If possible, find ways to lessen your workload. If that includes asking for help, that is okay, we are all human and we do not have superpowers. Asking for help lets people know, “I am busy” and even if the help is not granted, people will recognize that interrupting you for simple things is probably what is holding you up.

  • If you are losing valuable time to do actual work because people are coming to your office, or they are needing things from you, then there are a couple of simple tricks to avoid this. Putting a do not disturb sign on your door, or sending calls straight to voicemail, can allow you to work uninterrupted for a bit of time. If you can not do that, come in a few minutes earlier than everyone else gets there, so you can work without distraction. If you must work through lunch one day a week to make sure you finish everything that needs to be done, then that is a solution. You could always leave an hour early or take an extra-long lunch a different day. You would be amazed by what you can get done with just a few moments of silence.

4. Eliminate Distractions

If you often find yourself offering your two sense in the office chatter, this may be why you are not getting much done. As tempting as the side conversations can be, distancing yourself to get your work done can be the difference in you working through lunch, or getting to go to lunch to get that taco on Taco Tuesday at your favorite Mexican restaurant close by. Even if you are not participating in the conversations, sometimes they can be very distracting. Distracting enough that you may not be involved in the conversations, but you are still unable to focus on doing work. In this case, bringing a set of headphones to block out background noise is a must. Not only do you get to listen to your music of choice, but it can also put you in a great mood. If you are one that cannot concentrate while music or a podcast is playing, then using the headphones to just block out noise is helpful. You do not have to listen to anything but put them in to use them as a muting mechanism.

  • As you are completing a task you may find yourself needing things that are not necessarily at your desk. This causes you to have to get up and walk through the office to get what you need. In return, you are tempted to join in on the office banter and conversations. There is a chance that while you are walking through people may stop you and ask for help with other things. To avoid your sly co-workers having all of your materials at your desk before starting a task is helpful. Before you start on a big project, think of all the tools and equipment you might need. This may not just be equipped for your project, but also things like water and snacks too. Anything that might draw you away from your desk, grab before you start your project. This way you can ensure that the project gets finished with the smallest amount of distractions possible.
  • Although it is not just people at your work who create distractions, it is us too. Social media is an easy way to get distracted when you are on your computer. If you have to look for something on your computer, but you open a window and Facebook is up, you are likely to forget all about what you are doing and scroll through your feed. Having shortcuts on your computer for routinely used programs is a must. This way if you need to launch the program you can do so without any other distractions from the internet. Everyone loves to stay connected, but being connected at work is where many employees fall short on finishing their duties.

5. Take Breaks

Last but not least, and probably everyone’s favorite to hear, TAKE BREAKS. You work hard and sometimes your brain and your body needs a rest. Make sure you are allowing yourself time to rest. After you set your mini goals and meet them, reward yourself. If this means getting a snack or having a coffee break, then take it. Your brain needs to know that after completing a task there is a reward. If you set up your work-load well enough you can take breaks/ lunch after you finish some of your mini-goals or task. This way you are allowing yourself to have breaks, but not breaking your train of thought or pace while in the middle of a project by doing it at the end.

  • Working in blocks, or increments, like setting a timer and then breaking after, helps to reset your mind and to shift your train a thought. Studies suggest working in 30-60-minute increments otherwise your attention spans tend to drift if we focus on something for much longer. If you stick to taking breaks at a certain time, you will retrain your brain to know when it is time to reset and time to work.

While all the tips and tricks are helpful in productivity, being productive comes down to YOU! You must put in the effort and the work, otherwise all productivity is lost. There is a difference between being busy and being purposeful and productive. Make sure you are spending time wisely and using it to the best of your ability. It is important that we “make time” to do our actual work.