Who ever feels like you’ve done so much in a day, yet you’ve really accomplished very little? I’m raising my hand. The nature of business these days is such that professionals can spend the majority of the workday answering emails and on phone calls. That leaves very little time to produce actual work and can even set off a domino effect of consequences.
Recently, I had an epiphany. Actually, I read this fantastic Fast Company article on “The First Four Things You Should Do Every Workday.” The article outlined steps to take to ensure you don’t lose an entire day to unproductive tasks and the reasons those pitfalls need to be avoided. To recap the article:
- Eat the frog – do your most important task first
- Scan for red flags – instead of reading every email first thing in the morning, scan for potential emergencies or urgent matters
- Rally your to-do list – this will help you prioritize the rest of your day
- Check in with your team – say hello to your colleagues! Easy.
Sometimes, though, your inbox isn’t the only thing throwing off your day. Thinking about other bad habits of my own, there are a number of choices and changes we can make to stop an unproductive day before it ever begins:
- Put down the remote (or whatever keeps you up past bedtime). I fall into this trap often, pressing play on just one more show in my current Netflix series. You know how much sleep you need at night, so set an alarm and stick to it.
- Check your calendar the night before. If you can’t remember what your schedule looks like for the next day, check your agenda and make a mental plan for your priorities.
- Plan your breakfast ahead of time. This may seem silly, but making sure you have everything on hand to avoid scrambling at the last minute will keep your day on track for success.
- Think about your to-do list before you get to the office. I make mental notes on my commute. As soon as I arrive, I jot them down and get right to work.
- Organize your files! Spending time organizing files is a piece of the productivity puzzle. Not being able to locate what you need slows down the completion of an assignment.
Being proactive (and organized) is the best thing you can do to guarantee a productive day. It takes practice to figure out your perfect routine, and it’s important to form good habits. Once you can tackle those things, you’ll be productivity pro.