How to bring focus and order to your workday and boost your productivity
Hands up if by 5pm you feel like the bottom of a birdcage – flat, grimy and trodden. Ok hands down.
The last few hours of your workday has a massive effect on your productivity the following day, not to mention your mood when you return home. We have compiled a 5 step list on how to close the working day with a feeling of accomplishment, while keeping the smile on your face so you can leave work feeling satisfied.
Here’s how to set yourself up for an awesome day
- Evaluate to do list
We all tend to measure success and progress in terms of long-term goals and milestones but it’s important that we evaluate the smaller steps that go along with achieving those goals.
At the end of the day make sure you look at your to-do list and assess what you have left to do and congratulate yourself on the things you have done. The feeling of ticking things off your to do list is an instant mood booster and will leave you with a clear idea of how to write your to do list for the next working day.
- Mind Dump
Write down everything and anything that is on your mind. Whether that be family related, work related or something personal – get everything down on paper.
The purpose of this activity is to de-clutter your mind so you can physically see the things that you need to do/address. Think of this step like stretching your muscles before you go for a jog; it’s going to set you up for the day ahead and make writing your to do list a whole lot easier!
- Tomorrow’s to do list – Step 1, Eat the Frog
As you are writing down your to do list for the next working day, let’s take a leaf from Mark Twain’s book.
‘Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.’
Okay, so we don’t actually mean ‘eat a frog’ but when planning your to do list for the next working day do yourself a favour and put your most difficult task first up. If you get the things you’re dreading out of the way first, the rest of the day should sail by.
Do not overload yourself with tasks; The Ivy Lee method suggests that six is the magic number for to do lists. Pick six tasks in order of importance and stick to those wherever possible. The Lee method removes the friction of starting and forces you to focus on single tasks rather than being distracted and overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do.
- Check in while you check out
Just as you would say hello and check in with your colleagues when you arrive, it is equally important to checkout and say goodbye as you leave.
Not only will it make you feel more fulfilled and happy in the long run, it will make you feel more connected and part of a team. This is also a great way to start winding down. So before you disappear into the night say a proper goodbye and acknowledge those who surround you – this is even more important if you are in a position of authority.
- Clean + Leave
It turns out your mother was right, and although it may be boring and mundane keeping your workspace tidy is so important. Not only does it de-clutter your physical work environment, it also de-clutters your mind and enhances your job performance. That’s right, throw out that ever-growing stack of old newspapers, file the paperwork and put the coffee cups away. It will bring closure to the day and provide an appropriate point for you to actually leave work – yes, you do need to leave work at some point, pick a time and stick to it!
Just like it’s never a good idea to force shut down your computer, it’s not a good idea to force shut down yourself. The clean up time allows you to wind down, relax and allows you to come back into work the next day feeling fresh with a positive attitude.
Think about arriving to work tomorrow, clean desk, clean mind, a list of what you aim to complete and a timeframe to complete it by. So what are you waiting for? That frog is just going to keep sitting at your desk ribbit-ing away. Sit down, take a bite and hopefully the rest of the day will take care of itself.