Every morning that you get to your office, you start off with some seriously good intentions for the day ahead. You’ll focus all morning, and get through half of the items on your ‘to-do’ list by mid-afternoon, leaving you with some wiggle room by the end of your day to do as you wish.
Halfway through your day, something else happens: you become distracted by gossipy co-workers, an endless stream of emails, and ‘urgent’ tasks from your boss. If distraction is a death sentence, consider this article your ‘get out of jail’ free card.
Use the ‘Reply to All’ Option Only When Absolutely Necessary
When it comes to distractions, your inbox is often your biggest culprit. Do you find yourself thinking that you’re done sending your last email for the morning, but as you begin another project of diligent market research or brainstorming for your upcoming presentation, you become distracted with the relentless ‘bing’ email notification of your inbox?
One way that you can prevent inbox distraction is by giving yourself a ‘time out’ from email correspondence, as well as limiting the amount of ‘reply to all’ emails you send. If you’ve got an endless stream of emails coming in morning, noon and night, give yourself five minutes first thing in the morning to flag those emails of utter importance and urgency.
Then, spend twenty minutes responding to them, and leave the other emails for later on in the morning (once you’ve finished those other urgent tasks.) Only hit ‘reply to all’ when it absolutely calls for it—such as, when you need every team members opinion on a pressing matter, or you need multiple people’s record of your email and their input moving forward.
After Lunch, Re-Prioritize Your To-Do List
Getting more done (in less time) is all about the removal of anything that will distract you from working at a peak productive frame of mind. In order to think smarter (so you can work smarter), you’ve got to think intuitively, and as though you are projecting what might happen before it does. In other words, you need to think about a better way of doing something before you’re forced to.
While you’ll have a fully designed and read-to-go to-do list in place every morning when you get to work, it’s important to take another look at it after lunchtime. Why? Because sometimes the afternoon can pose a dip in energy levels, or a last minute urgent task might move to the top of your list, leaving less room for all those other deadlines you need to complete.
After lunch, develop a habit of focusing on your top three responsibilities. What’s most important to complete? What unanticipated tasks came up at the last minute? How can you best rearrange your schedule to get the most work done?
When you know what you need to do, here’s another tip to maximize your work day: lets others know of your ‘do not disturb’ hours. In other words, you don’t ever need to feel bad about letting chatty co-workers or noisy neighbors know that you’ve got work to do, and you need quiet time to do it in. After all, your intellect, creativity and impeccable decision making abilities depend on it!