With the new year officially in full swing, you might be one of many around the world focusing on ways to better yourself at home and at work — and I'm right there with you! When it comes to being your best self at work and really maximizing your time, there are a few simple habits you can put into place this week to start having more productive, fulfilling days you can feel GREAT about!
01. Prioritize the important stuff
It's easy to get caught up in a "busy" list of tasks in your day; when the little things pile up, knocking out the 5- and 10-minute to do's on your list can feel like you're making major progress. And don't get me wrong: some days, a catch-up day to do just that is necessary and helps you feel caught up with life again!
But for days when major, important tasks are on your list, focus on doing those first. These are the work tasks, projects, etc. tied to your goals and bottom line; they're the things that, at the end of the day, will actually help you make serious progress!
Personally, I love to identify (and write down!) 1-3 tasks for each day that are tied to my income, major long-term goals, or both. By prioritizing the big stuff, I know I'm not just "busy" — I'm making strategic, planned progress, in one way or another.
The goal here is to be in a proactive mode, rather than a reactive mode. Even five minutes of planning to identify your priorities can help prevent falling into the trap of busy work and putting out fires all day.
02. Minimize distractions
Distractions come in many forms — phone notifications, doorbells, laundry buzzers, even others around you popping in with a "quick question" or phone call to help clarify this or that. These are things that distract you from whatever you're currently focusing on, and thus often cause you to lose your place or momentum with the work you were doing.
This back and forth reactive state is called task-switching, and it prevents you from getting into a flow state with your work while also causing your project to take that much longer due to the time your brain needs to switch from one question, distraction, or notification back to the important task at hand.
Minimizing distractions doesn't have to mean retreating to a solo conference room for an entire day, however. Simple ways you can implement this today (without turning into a work hermit):
- Block out chunks of time (20 to 90 minutes at a time, say) that coordinate with your day's meetings, etc. when you can put your noise-canceling headphones on and go into a focused state without outside sounds distracting you.
- Similarly, use the Pomodoro method to do 20 minutes of intense, focused work, followed by 5-10 minute breaks.
- Flip your phone upside down, or charge it across the room, so you don't hear the pings or see the light-up screen during these focused blocks. And of course, turn your phone and computer on "Do Not Disturb."
- If you work from home, schedule in a time for non-work tasks (dishes, etc.) so you know they'll get done during that time block without feeling pressured to get up and do them now.
- Worried about urgent emails coming through? Set up a simple autoresponder that thanks recipients, informs them of your reply within the next 24 hours (or whatever timeline you feel comfortable with), and possibly gives them the answer they were seeking by providing a few helpful links and answers to questions you receive often.
03. Drink all the water
Staying hydrated not only helps prevent that random mid-afternoon snacking... it's also a natural way to keep your energy up, helps prevents headaches, and gives you an excuse to get up from your desk for bathroom breaks throughout the day.
Turns out, the trick for me to stay hydrated and actually care about drinking water was to find a water bottle I LOVED — one that would go with me everywhere from bedside to my workspace to the gym.
I personally love wider bottle mouths and glass bottles, so I found this Ello water bottle on Amazon and have been loving it since the day I got it last month! It's the perfect size (22 oz) and the lid portion comes in different colors so you can use them for multiple purposes or people without getting them confused. I also keep a hair band wrapped around mine so I always have one nearby when necessary.
My goal is to drink at least three of these daily, so I know I'm getting a minimum of 66-ish ounces of water a day. Hydration is one of those simple things that you hear pounded home over and over again — but for GREAT reason!