If you feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to finish everything on your to-do list, you're not alone. Everyone is looking for new ways to get more done in a shorter amount of time, and by making a few simple changes to your daily routine, you'll already be ahead of the game. Here are 5 ways to work smarter instead of harder and boost your productivity.
Before you start working, make sure you choose an environment that drives you to be focused. Organization and location are key: studies show you'll get more done if you work in a place that is clean and orderly, and that you don't associate with other activities. If you work from home, avoid working in bed; since your body associates your bed with sleep, you'll automatically start to feel tired.
Choose an area that you associate with work and that keeps you alert. Maintaining an organized space will make it easier for you to zone in on the task at hand, while a messy environment can make you feel stressed and overwhelmed.
The trick is to create a balanced to-do list: if it's too short, you'll be looking for more to do by afternoon, but if it's too long, you'll feel discouraged when you fail to check off every task. Prioritize your goals and narrow them down to what you can realistically get done that day. You can also create a daily schedule and assign each task to a specific time to avoid procrastination.
Turning your phone off or setting it to "do not disturb" can make all the difference in your workday. Even if your intention is just to answer a text, it's easy to get caught up in social media as soon as you check your messages. It's best to eliminate the temptation altogether. You'll also benefit from choosing a quiet work environment where you're surrounded by people who are as focused as you want to be. By working in a loud coffee shop or with friends you might get lost in conversation, which can take away from the time you have to work through your narrowed down to-do list.
If you commute to work and take public transportation every day, see if there's any work you're able to get done on the way there. Keep your laptop in an accessible spot and open the internet tabs you'll need to view beforehand. That way, you'll already have everything in front of you if there's no Wi-Fi. Save the easy, tedious tasks for when you're tired and you have some extra time left over after getting all of the intense work done.
Time doesn't always equal productivity, and working in the same spot for five hours straight could be doing you more harm than good. If you notice your focus starting to drift after a while, take a short break to recharge. When you do take breaks, instead of sitting in the same spot, walk around to keep your mind and body stimulated. If possible, switch up your workspace throughout the day to stay alert.
Making these small changes can have a huge effect on your productivity and overall satisfaction at work. When you complete everything you set out to do at the beginning of your workday, you'll feel proud of yourself and motivated to keep the momentum. Put these tips into practice, and you'll be surprised at how much more free time you have.