We’ve all been there.
You’re finally ready to start working. You’ve made your coffee, checked your email, scanned the news, and you can feel the cogs of productivity beginning to turn.You jot down a few lines, crunch some numbers, or get the template made. You are a powerhouse of efficiency, and nothing, we repeat, nothing can stop you.
Until that is, an email from the boss hits your inbox. A banner alert on your phone chimes. A coworker pops in to let you know, that for the third time this week, there’s cake in the conference room.
Why are you working more hours and getting less done? It comes down to one word, or lack thereof — organization.
Not to be confused with its easily conquerable enemy, distraction, organization is an elusive concept for some while it comes as naturally as breathing for others. And it’s more important, subtle, and over-arching than you thought.
It’s only with organization; of thought, of pattern, of routine, of self; that you are able to tackle that aforementioned nemesis, distraction.
Let’s look at 5 things you can do to defeat common downfalls of organization.
1. Know Yourself
Are you an early bird or a night owl? Do you require a quiet room free from the distraction of others, or thrive in a community co-working space? Tuning in to those personal preferences and adjusting your working schedule accordingly will do wonders for your productivity. For example, once you finally resign yourself to the fact that morning hours are your most productive, you’re able to adjust and reorganize your schedule accordingly. Errands, phone calls, tidying up, etc, can then be re-assigned to the evening so you’re not wasting your most productive time on less pressing matters.
2. Disconnect and Unplug
We get it, you have a demanding boss who expects you to be reachable 24/7, even at 2:15 on a Sunday morning. Regardless, you have to find a way to unplug. Only being able to focus for ten, fifteen minutes at a time before another email or text message comes in is the most virulent cancer to productivity in the modern age. Try setting up and auto-response or letting colleagues know in advance that you will not be responding to emails for the next two hours.
3. Make a Plan and Stick to it
Especially for those who are juggling multiple projects or have limited hours to spending working, creating and sticking to your work plan is vital. If you are spending the first fifteen minutes of every session trying to figure out just what it is you’re working on, needless to say, you are not making the most of your time. At the end of each session make note of where you left off and what you’re hoping to accomplish next time.
4. Give Yourself Less Time
Ever notice how when you’re busier you’re able to get more done? That’s because when you know you have all week to tackle a big project, that big project is going to take you just that — a whole week. When you’re juggling multiple deadlines and projects you work more efficiently to get them done. Give yourself self-imposed time limits. Telling yourself you are going to work tooth and nail for the next 8 hours to finish isn’t just cruel — it’s not realistic.
5. Take Care of Your Body
A healthy body and mind lend to a healthy work routine, trust us. A physical body that is exercised, well rested, and nourished will aid in mental acuity and focus. While we’ve all done the heavily-caffeinated all-nighter in college, we’re adults now and need to properly care for ourselves. Carve out some time in your busy schedule to connect to your body and you’ll find that focus you’ve been grasping after comes a bit more easily.
Working well and utilizing your time effectively is a skill, and like all others, something that gets better with practice. Identifying your weak spots is the first step in answering, “why am I working more hours and getting less done?” Next, take an honest look at your work habits and self to pinpoint where you can be more organized. Using the above list as a template and applying the five points to your life is a great place to start. We have a feeling you’ll be purring along as a well-oiled efficiency machine in no time.