Tori’s Take: Mid-Year Productivity Tips
Each quarter, we bring you “Tori’s Take” featuring a guest post by Market Street Talent’s Operations Coordinator, Tori Leavitt, as she takes a look at popular workplace concepts and trends.
We’re already halfway through 2018, and if you’re like most people, you may be in a bit of a summer slump. Whether your New Year’s Resolutions are long gone or still going strong, June is a great time to check in with your goals and re-prioritize. I’ve been seeking out my fair share of productivity and time management resources this month, so I thought I’d share a round-up of the best tips I’ve read and am hoping to implement myself.
I know – you’re not a morning person. I’m not either. However, there’s a reason every list and article about being successful includes waking up early. Most Americans spend between eight and ten hours a day at their jobs, and another hour commuting. That doesn’t leave a lot of time between 8am and 8pm for things like exercise, meal preparation, household chores, leisure activities, or social commitments. The easiest way to add hours to your day is to start earlier – even an hour can make a big difference. In addition to gaining time to check things off your list, you’ll start your day with a sense of accomplishment when you get to work in the morning and have already fit in a workout, finished the laundry that had been piling up, or put a meal in the crockpot for tonight’s dinner.
Tackle Your Hardest Task First
This one seemed counter-intuitive to me at first, but crossing off the most difficult or time-consuming thing on your agenda early is a good way to kick off the day on a productive note. The thought behind this strategy is to avoid putting off something you don’t want to do until the end of the day, when you’re tired and will have to rush to get it done before your deadline. Additionally, the rest of your to do list will seem much easier to accomplish after you get that one big job out of the way.
Schedule Your Day in Increments
Whether you love or hate routines, they are unquestionably helpful when it comes to making sure you get things done on a regular basis. Try creating short blocks of time and dedicating each one to a particular task. Set a timer if you want to. The idea is to stay focused on accomplishing one thing until it’s done, without trying to multitask or getting distracted by other things that pop up. Obviously the degree to which you can schedule your day will vary depending on your job and the level of reactivity required, your personal responsibilities, and your natural tendencies around spontaneity. Hate schedules? Even keeping a post-it on your laptop with meeting times and deadlines for the day can help you structure your time for maximum productivity.
Get Enough Sleep
Okay, we all know we don’t sleep enough. The CDC recommends a minimum of seven hours per night for adults, and data shows most of us don’t come close to that on a regular basis. The reasons to prioritize sleep are basically endless: increased attention span, better focus, lower stress, better mood, and even a stronger immune system. Typically need two or three cups of coffee in the morning, and then another to mitigate your afternoon caffeine crash? Sleeping more can help. Cranky when you get to work? Sleep more and start your day on the positive side of the street. Can’t focus after 2pm? More. Sleep. (This is another reason to try getting up earlier – you can get frontload your day and get to bed a little sooner.)
Self-Care Isn’t Just a Trend
Self-care is definitely the buzzword of the moment. Between Instagram, the magazine covers in the grocery store, and mothers everywhere, it’s impossible to miss the memo that we collectively need to take better care of ourselves to reduce stress and avoid burnout. Don’t be fooled by the pretty pictures – self-care is more than buying yourself flowers, taking bubble baths, and spending Sundays laying in bed. Those things are great, but not exactly practical for everyone. Self-care can also mean making time to exercise, buying healthy snacks to keep in your desk, taking your dog for a longer walk than usual, or saying no to yet another evening networking event when you want to catch up on some sleep (or Netflix). My favorite suggestion for self-care is to spend ten minutes making a list of the things you enjoy doing, then pick one and schedule it somewhere in your week. The next week, maybe try to incorporate two things from your list. The goal is to build self-care into your daily or weekly routine without a second thought, negating the impulse that you don’t have time to take care of yourself.