If you want to improve your work performance, you need to improve your productivity. There are a ton of productivity hacks that you can implement in your day but, unfortunately, some of them contribute to burn out a lot faster than others. Make smarter choices about your day to improve productivity in these 10 ways that won’t contribute to burn out.
1. Plan Ahead: It’s so easy to lose track of time or lose track of deadlines if you aren’t planning ahead. Taking a few minutes to plan your day, your week, or whatever method works best for you will help you stay focused, productive, and motivated during work hours.
2. Time Yourself: Sometimes, we can get so lost in a project we’re working on that we don’t realize how much time has passed. If this happens to you a lot, you may burn out easier than others. Try setting a timer for a specific task. You can work for that solid hour without interruption and, when the timer goes off, you know it’s time to get up, stretch your legs, grab some water and move on to the next task at hand.
3. Distraction Free Time Blocks: If you get lost in your inbox or your daily plan gets frequently derailed by coworkers asking you to shift your focus to something else, you may benefit from setting up a few distraction free time blocks in your day. Let others know that for the next hour you’re unavailable, switch your phone to airplane mode, close out of your email, and take away any other distractions so you can focus on high priority items and get more done than usual in that same amount of time.
4. Complex Tasks First: Work that requires a lot of concentration should be done earlier in the day. This is your brain’s peak performance time, according to scientists 2-4 hours after you wake up is the perfect time to tackle your most complex tasks.
5. Collaborate or Schedule Meetings in the Afternoon: Some jobs are collaborative all day by nature. Others have strict morning meeting schedules. But, if your job doesn’t fall into either of those categories, you’re better off scheduling your collaborative work and meetings in the afternoon. These are the hours when people are more likely to socialize naturally, so taking advantage of that time to work with others is a great idea!
6. Tackle the Big Picture at the End of the Day: Earlier in the day, you may be too focused on your to-do list and specific tasks that need to get done before the end of the day. Towards the end of the day, you’ll have accomplished a lot of this and cleared it from your mind, leaving you plenty of space for creative thinking, brainstorming, and focusing on the big picture.
7. Movement to Boost your Energy: So many studies show that 10-30 minutes of exercise can boost cognition and energy, two things that are essential if you want to optimize your productivity. Whether you take a quick walk at lunch or hit the gym before work, adding a little more movement into your day will help you improve your productivity.
8. Small, Regularly Scheduled Breaks: While it may seem counterintuitive, taking a break could actually improve your productivity. And, taking small breaks throughout the day can keep you focused, energized, and prevent sluggishness in the afternoon. If you want to avoid burnout, scheduling small, regular breaks is essential!
9. Balance Long Hours: Sometimes working overtime is inevitable. But, if you want to prevent burn out during the weeks where you’re working longer hours, you need to be conscious of balancing out that extra work. Getting enough sleep and not draining your energy levels too much during your free time will help you balance out the longer hours you’re working. And, if possible, balance your work hours in the following weeks so you arrive and leave on time or take a day off to clear your head and reclaim your time after a big project is completed.
10. Use Your Free Time Wisely: While it may be fun to veg out on the couch and watch hours of TV after work, it isn’t always the best way to spend your free time. If you want to be productive, use your free time wisely by focusing on the three R’s: rest, rejuvenation, and relationships. Your free time is more memorable and feels more valuable when you spend it with loved ones and friends. Getting enough rest is essential if you want to stay productive. And rejuvenation can span anything from pursuing a hobby to exercising to learning a new skill, as long as it lights your fire it fits in this segment.
You can stay productive without burning out! Implement several of these 10 strategies and you’ll be able to improve your work performance, use your time in a smarter way, and produce better results without sacrificing more of your time.