With the normal bustle of office life and the daily 9-to-5 routine it can be all too easy to lack motivation and feel overwhelmed by the tasks ahead. With jobs becoming more demanding around the clock, and a very fine line being drawn between our work lives and home lives, it’s no wonder that there’s been an increase of people admitting to feeling overworked and stressed during the past few years.
Feeling daunted by the amount of work you need to accomplish by the end of each day or week can make it harder to concentrate and make you more likely to embrace distractions.
Distractions can arise in all sorts of ways – checking social media, replying to text messages, avidly refreshing your email inbox, crafting the perfect Spotify playlist, taking an extended coffee break to have a chat with your colleagues — all are tempting traps to fall into, but can suck away your productivity and only increase your stress levels in the long run.
Plenty of people will tell you that all you need in order to be productive is to build a solid structure to each day. This may sound ideal in principle but, the chances are, something will always get in the way when you’re working in a fast-paced office environment. Meetings crop up at the last minute, urgent tasks arise that push other things to one side, and team members ask you for help with something – sound familiar?
So how exactly can you tackle the hectic nature of office life and still come out with your chin up when the clock ticks the end of the day? There’s no miracle solution, but these five little ideas will definitely help (at least a little bit) to boost your productivity and keep you calmer under pressure.
Make the Most of Your Commute
Starting work before you hit the office might be the last thing on your mind, but reflecting on the day ahead can actually help you to focus when you do get to work. Planning your day ahead by creating a checklist of important things you know you need to prioritise gives you key action points as soon as you step over the threshold.
If you prefer a traditional pen-to-paper checklist make sure you keep a notepad in your bag every day, or if you want to keep everything digital consider downloading an app such as Google Keep, Todoist, Any.Do, or Clear to keep everything in one place. All these apps benefit from a very basic design, to make your day as streamline as possible.
Stick to One Thing at a Time
With people coming and going and emails always popping up, it’s all too common to find yourself juggling different things, flicking from task to task. While there are some that say multitasking is a valuable skill to have, attempting to take on too many things at one time can actually be counter-productive.
Try to shake the habit. Instead, putting all of your energy into one task can help you complete it quicker and to a better standard, letting you move onto the next task on your list. Having that checklist handy will help you know where to get started and which tasks to prioritise.
It might sound easier said than done. If this is the case and you’re buckling under the pressure of a particularly heavy assignment, close emails and all your internet tabs or programmes, leaving only the things you absolutely need open to complete the task. It’s worth letting your colleagues know if you’re coming off of emails for a bit though, just to avoid any miscommunication.
Cleanse Yourself of Perfectionist Thoughts
Perfectionism can completely kill your confidence when it comes to the work place. You might find yourself becoming obsessed with achieving perfection, yet this isn’t a healthy frame of mind to be in.
Spending too much time working on something only to keep picking it apart, can be a vicious cycle that’ll not only stress you out, but rarely result in a finished product either. Cleanse yourself of perfectionist thoughts and instead strive to do a good job.
You can actually give yourself the chance to do something really well and to a high standard if you let go of the idea that everything needs to be perfect. Once you accept that there is no such thing as perfect, it can help you refocus and work to a path that is attainable and successful.
Put simply: “Perfectionism is the enemy of creation.” (John Updike)
Ditch the Comparisons
Something we’re all guilty of is comparing ourselves to other people. Pitting yourself against your colleagues or friends only ends badly. Fixating on the career path of other people can remove focus from your own career and leave you agonising over or devaluing your own skills.
It’s important to meditate on your own goals and skillset, and isolate yourself from the tasks or successes of others. If you have a particular way of working that is completely different to your colleague it doesn’t mean that one is right and the other is wrong. Find the methods and structures that work for you and harness these in order to be as successful as you can be.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t give change a go though. Be open to mixing up your way of working – you can always go back to your tried-and-tested ways if things don’t work out. Embracing different skills, programmes or working strategies is all a part of personal (and professional) development.
Switch Desks for a Change of Scenery
We’ve all had those days where we’re far more interested in what’s going on around us or outside the office window than we are in our actual work. With people constantly moving past your desk, the work phones ringing, and – if you’re based right in the heart of the city – the angry noise of traffic or roadworks all cutting into your concentration, the idea of getting anything done can seem impossible.
Even the most chilled of Spotify playlists (or dramatic, if you’re one of those people that needs loud, quick-tempo music to get you through) sometimes just don’t cut it.
Switching desks and working from a different part of the office can help you to regain control over your workload and properly focus on what needs to be completed. Equally, stepping outside for a breath of air and a walk around the block can work wonders. The change of scenery can keep you feeling fresh and give you a little energy boost.
Many companies are becoming aware of the benefits of flexible working – whether that’s letting employees work remotely from a café, hold ‘walking meetings’ outside and far away from the conference room, or even go as far as building quiet, comfortable and creative spaces designed for solo working.
Having that option to work away from your desk is sometimes all you need in order to get your work finished.
Take back control of your work life and step away from unhealthy or unproductive habits to keep your stress levels to the minimum. How do you stay productive at work? Share your advice on Twitter @celebriciouscom.