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10 Tips for Being More Productive During Your Work Day

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By Barbara Beauregard   |    July 18, 2014   |    4:19 PM

Productivity Hacks for the Easily Distracted

Staying on task isn’t easy for most people. There are coworkers to catch up with, or websites to visit to see what’s going on in the world. For those that work remotely, there are dishes to do or kids begging for attention. So how does one stay on track throughout the day to get to all the work that must be done?

Without a good groove, a person may sit and stare blankly at walls, or just keep spinning his wheels. People will usually try to figure out what they should be doing and how to get back to doing it, but may be unsuccessful. Here’s a list of ways to help someone get back on track after they’ve lost their mojo.

  1. Clear your calendar of meetings one day a week: Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Facebook and co-founder and CEO of Asana, recommends having one day where there’s no meetings at all. He says that, “This is an invaluable tool for ensuring you have some contiguous space to do project work.
  2. Clear away the clutter: Nothing is more distracting than clutter. When sitting at a desk, people will only focus on the items around them, not the work. Clean up the work space no matter where it is: your desk at your corporate office desk or your home office.
  3. Use a productivity app: Apps like StayFocused track how long someone is on time-sucking websites like Facebook or the Huffington Post. Certain sites can be blocked completely, or the app can be set to limit the number of minutes on these types of sites.
  4. Turn the phone to silent - or off completely: While phone calls are necessary for work, they can also be extremely distracting. For periods when you need to focus, turn the phone to silent or off, and then turn it back on when the project is done. Also, remove any games that might be distracting during the day.
  5. Take a walk: Most people work better in sprints – not by trying to kill themselves with a marathon day. When a project or task is completed, go get some fresh air, which will help revitalize the mood and energy.
  6. Prioritize: Not all tasks are as important as others. Matt DeCelles, co-founder and partner of William Painter, recommends starting with the most important task first. He also recommends a whiteboard to list out all of the tasks that need to be done.
  7. Be Prepared: By the end of the day, most people are just ready to check out, especially on Friday. The end of the day, however, is the perfect time to prepare for the next day or work week. Put together a task list for the next day or objective for the following week.
  8. Create a to-do list: Create a single to-do list with everything that needs to get done on a daily or weekly basis, starting with the hardest task. As the task gets done, cross it off and move on to the next one. Try to stick to the list as much as possible. Emergencies will come up, but they should be few and far between. If a person is having too many fire drills, then they’re not prioritizing.
  9. Outsource certain projects: DeCelles has another productivity hack: Outsource smaller tasks to freelancers, especially if the company doesn’t have enough internal resources.
  10. Start early: The first person in the office usually has a good hour to hour and a half without any distractions, especially from coworkers and meetings. Get to work early, and get as much done as possible before having to deal with every day distractions.

The best productivity hacks will depend on the person. Try all of these, figure out which ones work best, and then stick to them.

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