A month to go before the April 15 deadline and our motivation may be slowing. As the long hours at our desks begin to take their toll, what are the smallest things you can do to keep your productivity up without taking up more hours in your day?
I’m sure we would all love to start with an hour of yoga and meditation before diving into our endless pile of tax returns but what are the best things you can start doing today to get you through the last filing deadline?
1. Limit distractions
A whole day of streaming, snacking and zero responsibility starts to sound pretty enticing when you have been pushing the limit of your work hours already for a month or two. Focus on long days can get extremely challenging and it can be very easy to waste hours on things like emails, phone calls, mindless social media scrolling, etc. when we are not paying attention. When you sit down to work on a project, remove all the distractions. Silence your phone and put it more than an arm’s length away from you. Shut down email and keep the distractions at bay until you are finished or ready to take a break.
2. Use the 5 minute rule
Work for 25 minutes straight and take a break for 5. I know it seems like you should be able to power through for longer than twenty-five minutes at a time but trust me on this. Take the five minutes to do the aimless scrolling, go to the bathroom, get a snack, refill your caffeine of choice and then go right back into another 25-minute block. Set your timer for your 5 minute breaks too. The cadence will give you the small breaks you need to keep yourself running without cutting into your ability to focus.
3. Don’t multitask
It’s a myth that any of us are multi-tasking phenoms. Your brain cannot do multiple tasks 100% at the same time. Any time you are multitasking you are taking attention away from every task you are completing. See pointers above on limiting distractions. Whatever you’re working on in each particular time block, keep your attention on that one projection until you are done or until your next break. You will find it takes you less time to get through each project.
4. Time block
Time blocking isn’t just a trendy tool, it is highly effective at boosting productivity. Try to block out your schedule at least a week in advance but at the very least, make sure you look at your schedule the night before and mark off specific blocks throughout the day and label them with what projects you will be working on. Doing this will help you to identify ahead of time where you might run out of time on things and will also help you when you’re ready to sit down and work, starting right out of the gate.
5. Do the hardest things first
Our brains don’t like this one and the harder things tend to get pushed to last. This is a really fabulous way to raise your stress and reduce your ability to focus on other projects. Getting your most daunting tasks out of the way first will help reduce anxiety and mentally set you up for better success completing your other tasks.
Try these tips tomorrow for a more productive day.