Okay, we all have those great days at work where we know we got a lot done. Then, we have those days that the clock hits 5 o’clock and we wonder whether it’s a contractual violation to even be paid for the day that just wasn’t.
There are only (hah!) five days in a week, so if you have a lot of impending deadlines, that time starts to feel really precious when the clock is ticking down. No matter what your work looks like on any given day, here are a few tips on what you can be doing every day so you leave the office feeling more like a corporate superstar and less like the office sloth (if there is such a thing, which would be fantastic).
Have a Good Morning
As we covered in a previous blog post, how you approach your day before you even fly out the door has a big impact on the rest of it.
Consider this: would you rather arrive to work feeling calm, collected, and energized, or would you rather arrive frazzled, stressed, and slightly vengeful?
Take some time to have breakfast, sip a cup of coffee, read the news, or perhaps even meditate or go for an early morning workout. It’ll put you in a good mindset when you arrive in the office.
Make a List (and Check it Twice)
You probably have a running list of ongoing projects and all that accountability stuff. But do you have a list you put together first thing in the morning on what you want to accomplish today?
If not, it’s great to start the day with some objectives in mind instead of diving right into your inbox. And, if at the end of the day, you feel like you didn’t accomplish much, and you look at your list and have every item checked off, you’re probably wrong. Depending on what you put on your list of course. Dream big, people!
Break Down Tasks
This is goal setting 101, but things are just daunting and unapproachable when they’re giant goals without a system in place to get there. Write an entire report on some vague corporate topic? Boooooo. I don’t want to.
Write the introduction and situational analysis today, and then begin strategy and timeline planning tomorrow? Sure, I can do that.
Do the Tough Stuff in the Morning
If you’re like me, your brain is fresh, energized and full of creativity in the morning. As much as I don’t want to admit it, this is the best time to tackle the more challenging things on your plate. Plus, you’ll feel better doing the more mundane tasks when you’re in the midst of your 2:00 p.m. slump.
Oh, and on the same vein, try to schedule meetings in the afternoon. More often than not, meetings are giant black holes, consuming the precious time of your day without remorse.
Take Frequent Breaks
It’s true and you know it – humans aren’t meant to run turbines to full for eight hours straight. Get up on an hourly basis and go for a walk, grab a snack, do some meditating. Hit the gym over lunch instead of scarfing down a sandwich at your desk and going through your email.
And for those who say it’s a time sink, consider this: I often find myself having those ‘A-ha!’ moments thinking about a project or piece I’m writing when I’m not physically at my desk.
I can’t believe I had on my resume early on in my career that I was a great multitasker. Because do you know what that actually means? It means I’m great at doing a crappy job on multiple things at once.
Our brains simply did not evolve to multitask. When you’re doing more than one thing, you’re essentially splitting your focus in between all of these disparate elements. The best way to get something done is focus on it, without distraction, and then move on to the next.