Today is World Productivity Day – a time to think about how to get the best out of your work day. After a few years and thousands of posts for Lifehacker Australia as well many other publications there are a bunch of things I’ve learned that work for me.
1 – Organise your work space your way
I like to keep my workspace quite uncluttered. But that’s what works for me. I know lots of people who like to have lots of ‘stuff’ on their desk. And that’s fine.
The key is have a workspace that works for you and to set time aside to keep it organised just right – for you.
2 – Stop half way through
This is something I only learned recently but works really well.
In the past, when I needed to step away from my work for some reason, I would get to a logical breaking point – perhaps the end of a paragraph or, at least, a sentence. But these days I just get up even if I’m in the middle of a sentence.
This helps me get back into the flow when I get back to my desk. Instead of having to wind up and get going again, I can simply keep going from the point I left off.
3 – A little bit of planning
I spend part of every week planning my week. I have a ‘paper based’ system for this – it’s actually a template on my iPad I annotate with the Apple Pencil.
I know that the plan can change but the act of planning, helps me ensure that nothing is missed and helps me focus my time each day.
4 – Breaks matter
We all get fatigued when we concentrate for extended periods of time. Taking just a few minutes each hour to refresh your mind can make you more productive.
Schedule regular breaks. Morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea breaks, short walk breaks, exercise time and a walk around the office are all good ways to give yourself a break.
5 – Chronotypes and schedules
There’s a solid body of research that highlights that there are three main chronotypes; larks, middle birds and owls. And we also know that our natural rhythm follows a peak-trough-peak pattern. When you put these things together you can figure out the best time to schedule particular types of work.
Plan for tasks that require lots of cognitive effort in your peak periods with less intense tasks, such as administrative work, during the trough time.
My natural schedule means I do my best work in the morning between about 9:30AM and 11:30AM and between 2:00PM and 5:00PM. I do my administrative tasks, such as check email just before my middle of the day break.