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Doing one’s best work and ticking off the maximum number of things from a to-do list as possible requires getting into the zone. Most people don’t work optimally throughout the week but, for employees who want better work-life balance, or employers who are concerned about reaching goals, here are some ideas for boosting productivity wherever they happen to be based…
Cut out long commutes
Spending one to two hours a day travelling to a city centre office is often not productive, especially if employees are driving or stuck on a crowded bus or underground train. Even if they are listening to a podcast their energy will already have been diminished by the time they sit down at their desk. By taking a short walk or bike ride to a nearby office or coworking space, people can clear their head en route, and arrive fresh and ready to work.
Work in ‘sprints’
In his new book, Thursday is the New Friday, author Joe Sanok argues that people in the modern world should start working four-day weeks. While this may not be for everyone, he also describes exercises and tools to help professionals to design better schedules. Not only this, but he says the key to being productive is working in ‘sprints’, where workers block off segments of their own time to focus on just one task (and with no interruptions, such as checking their email).
Carve out time alone and with others
Spending all day, every day, in the same environment isn’t always conducive to feeling productive, motivated and inspired. People should be able to plan their week according to when they will benefit from time around others in a buzzing coworking space, for example, and when they will need quiet time at home for ‘deep work’. It’s also important to remember that ‘productivity’ takes many forms – it could be about coming up with a great idea when making a cup of tea, or catching up on the phone with a client.
Be discerning about meetings
One of the benefits of working from home during the pandemic was not having to waste a lot of the day travelling around town getting to meetings. Zoom video calls can be very efficient for team catch-ups, collaboration, interviews and even engaging with new clients.
Meeting in person, however, is sometimes essential for building business relationships – in this case, invite colleagues or clients to a local flexspace that offers neutral territory away from a busy central HQ office. It will also look more professional than a public café.
Clear inboxes at the end of the day
Keeping on top of emails can be hard but it doesn’t take long to start feeling deluged with messages one doesn’t have time to respond to. For most people, they will be most energetic at the beginning of the day when they have had a nutritious breakfast, a cup of coffee and (with luck) a good night’s sleep.
So, instead of spending an hour at the beginning of the day responding to emails, people should focus on getting their most important tasks done first. Then they should dedicate an hour at the end of the day (or half way through) to get their inbox as close to zero as possible. (Filing, deleting and starring priority emails is key.) Then the next day they will feel more in control. Employers might also want to encourage staff not to check emails after hours to help prevent burnout.
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