*The content in this post was written in-line with the Covid-19 restrictions at the time. Please follow the current Government guidelines relating to lockdown, social distancing and all relevant matters.*
After a relaxing festive break, the pressure of returning to work to a full inbox, keeping up the new year’s resolutions and maintaining the work- life balancing act can sometimes feel overwhelming.
It’s even more difficult than usual to plan for 2021, but there are many things you can do to boost productivity in the meantime.
The old adage “work smarter, not harder” means planning ahead, not being distracted, and getting plenty of rest. So, if you want to maximise your productivity in the new year, here are some tried-and-tested tips to get the most out of your day.
Paper diaries are back in vogue. The benefit of having your list of tasks, deadlines and notes staring up at you from your desk cannot be understated. And who can beat the satisfied feeling of crossing something off when it’s done.
A calendar in a prominent place that you’ll look at or walk past numerous times throughout the day will also do the same job.
CDG London’s Stress Less journal does the job of a diary, with space to plan out your day, but also encourages you to chart your wellness and has plenty of advice and mantras. Ideal if you find your working day getting on top of you.
As far as online tools go, it’s hard to look past Todoist, which is an app that works with both desktop and mobile and acts as a hub to organise all your incoming tasks the moment they appear.
The golden rule when looking to improve productivity is to avoid multitasking. It’s an admirable quality to be able to juggle a number of jobs all at once, but you run the risk of your plans all falling apart. Better to ‘single-task’, giving yourself a timeframe to complete the job at hand, prioritising the most important tasks and the ones that need completing imminently.
When planning your day, be sure not to just list your jobs – equally important is planning your breaks, planning your meal times, planning your exercise and planning what you are going to do when you clock off for the day.
New year, new you
New year’s resolutions can help you make a big change in your life, even if most fall by the wayside by February.
It is, of course, a good time to introduce a new fitness regime or a healthy eating plan, as you can chart your progress throughout the year. But it’s also a good time to shed some bad habits or unnecessary problems.
One way of tackling this is by creating a “not to-do list” – things that you don’t want to do and resolve not to do. Make a list of time-consuming or frustrating tasks that eat up your day and have very little value. Look at ways around them, to delegate them, or to replace them with something of value. This can be things like pointless meetings without a clear agenda, replying to every email, or having long-winded discussions when you just want to crack on with work.
Especially important now that many people are working from home, getting the balance right between how much time and energy you spend on your work compared with your family time and your downtime is the most important element of boosting productivity.
Sleep is crucial, and a well-rested worker is a productive worker. If you’ve cut out your commute, it’s OK to spend some of that time in bed.
If you’re no longer going into an office, it is good to be in the right mind-set. Dress for work, give yourself a proper work space, head out of the house for lunch or for your breaks, and make sure you designate those breaks accordingly.
Whether you’re in the spare bedroom or back in the workplace, eliminating digital distractions is the only way you’ll be at your best. Having a smartphone on you 24/7 is going to dominate your attention – it’s hard to ignore a “BREAKING NEWS” alert or a WhatsApp message from your group chat, but it can be done if your phone has notifications turned off, you’ve selected ‘do not disturb’ or if your phone is put away in your drawer.
Designate times in your day for reading your favourite websites, reading your personal emails and watching TV news, because it certainly isn’t compatible with a busy working environment.
Interact with real people
If you can conduct your work conversations via video or over the phone, you can cover much more ground than a back-and-forth over email. Even better if you can meet safely in a room together.
Something that has been somewhat lost for many of us is the time and ability to socialise. It’s not easy if your area has local restrictions at the moment, or if your workmates are all holed up at home, but aim to meet your friends – in person or even virtually – as often as possible.