Everyone has good days and bad days at work, it is just one of those things, so I have put together some tips and mindset techniques that will help make your bad days good and your good days even better!
Less Distraction, More Action
As we are now firmly rooted in a technology-filled society most of us multi-task all day every day - eating lunch while we scroll our Facebook feed, ironing while watching Netflix, taking selfies whilst putting the kids to bed, etc. Whilst multitasking is a good skill to develop, there are times that require more focus and it is then that it can be distracting rather than beneficial.
You might be familiar with the following scenario for example – you are at your desk trying to get a project finished for the handover meeting tomorrow when an e-mail alert pops up from a news website. Its subject line is gripping so you minimize your work window, read the article and then return to your project – boom. You only took 2 minutes away from your project, but what has happened to your creative flow? It’s in tatters. All you can think about is that gripping news article about the dog saving a fisherman’s life.
Rather than being effective, this is distracting your flow and will cost you more time than a couple of minutes spent reading because you’ve lost your focus. By ignoring the e-mail alert and carrying on with your project you would have spent more energy being creative and efficient than spending it being distracted – and this comes nicely onto my next e-mail-related point…
Give yourself some alone time!
10, 20, 50? How many e-mails do you receive every day? I know I come into the office every morning to countless e-mails waiting for me and then, throughout the day they keep coming, sometimes slow but more often very fast. This can be off-putting when you have projects pending and are having e-mail notifications drag you away from the job at hand.
One way of stopping this would be to disable the pop-up notifications although you also risk missing urgent alerts so a more effective method is to allocate some time throughout the day to answer your e-mails. The amount of time will depend on how many e-mails you get and of course, the profession you work in. My e-mail time works something a little like this - personal e-mails in the evening and when I wake up, then when I get to the office I clear some work e-mails before my 2 hours of Burn Time(see below), then again at 3pm and finally right before I leave the office.
This may not work for everyone but it gives me focused time to deal with and then forget about, e-mails for the rest of the day. In this technological age, we are very rarely ‘unavailable’ to the world and this can be very distracting if not managed well.
“I am not a morning person.” I know this phrase is uttered by many people, often while grasping a hot cup of coffee but - I’m really not so when I arrive at the office I’m rarely in the right frame of mind to jump right in and smash deadlines. Instead, I take a little time to complete small tasks to warm up - like getting ready for a 100m sprint. I spend my warm up time answering e-mails received overnight, and creating a day plan. Once I’ve got my day plan ready and the caffeine is starting to kick in I crack on with important projects and assignments that are more energy demanding. This is my Burn Time when I’m at my best and can really get to work on getting things done.
Do you find that you are full of energy after lunch? If so then work on that assignment which needs to be handed in before the end of the week. Raring to go after your double espresso at 9am? Take advantage of it and you will notice a change in, not only your productivity but your overall work ethic too.
Setting yourself a daily structure
Planning is the key to being efficient in your work so give yourself a structure for the day and it will help you keep focused whilst giving you a sense of satisfaction each time you check a task off your list. It is good to set this structure at the beginning of each day when you hold a clear image in your mind of what you want to have achieved by the time you leave.
As it is natural for unexpected items to arise and get in the way of achieving what you thought you would; rather than beating yourself up for not clearing your list, just adapt and change your plan. This leads us onto our final topic – prioritising.
Prioritize and finalize
Setting out a day plan is a great way to know how to handle your daily hurdles although it’s not so great if you have no order to it. Prioritising your tasks is important, as it’s a way of separating what you need to achieve by the end of the day/week/month/quarter. All professions have different deadlines so these things can be flexible.