In today's fast-paced world, we constantly feel the need to be smarter, better, faster. But do you ever feel like it’s tough to stay focused on your growing list of tasks? Or like you’ve busted your butt all day and haven’t gotten the big stuff done?
No shame, it happens to the best of us! But it doesn’t have to be your norm. Here are my top tips for staying focused and productive every day.
7 Ways to Stay Focused & Productive
1.Don’t Be a Slave to Your InboxI was one myself. Once I logged into my email account I couldn’t stop answering emails because I wanted to get it done – get all the emails answered. You know that struggle. But here’s the truth: getting your inbox to zero does not make you productive. The challenge is that the more emails you send and reply, the more you get back again. It’s a vicious cycle!
So what can you do? Set a dedicated window of time each day to answer emails - maybe 15 minutes at the beginning and end of your day - and only answer the most important emails during that time. The same applies to WhatsApp. Technology has created a situation where everyone feels the need to reply to every email or WhatsApp message within a minute whether it’s during working hours or not. Sometimes it's urgent – but is it really always? The truth is, most of those emails and messages can wait until you’ve completed other more important task.
Pro tip: during times where you really need to get work done, turn off your emails and put your phone far, far away!
2. Make a List of Your Tasks - and Then PrioritiseOftentimes we can't concentrate because we have “so much to do.” But what, exactly, is “so much?” Write down every task and then prioritise, prioritise, prioritise! Figure out your top three most important tasks for the day and focus on getting those things done. Not only does this help define your focus of the day or week, but it also feels really great to cross those tasks off your list!
3. Plan AheadI love planning the week before it starts! Take a little time on Sunday evening to look at the week ahead, including major projects, appointments or social events. And each night of the week, dedicate time to looking at your schedule for the next day. When you know your schedule for the approaching day, you’re able to plan the rest of your day accordingly, like time for concept work, answering emails or collaborating with colleagues.
4. Don’t Skip Meals or Exercise
It’s important to schedule meals and exercise times as well, otherwise, they often get taken over by “just a few more” emails or “just one more meeting.”
Getting in proper meals is not only good for your overall health, but it will also help you to stay focused and productive at work. Why? Your brain needs sugar to function, so it’s important to make sure your blood sugar is stabilised throughout the day. However, you want to avoid foods that spike your blood sugar like sweets, white bread or white rice - these foods will just make you drowsy and kill your focus. Instead, snack on whole grain, nuts, veggies, fruits and other wholesome foods to help you to keep your blood sugar levels stable and your concentration up.
And exercise is the perfect way to clear your mind and go back to work with a fresh perspective.
5. Define Your TimeIf you are an email slave like I was, time can pass without you even noticing - and suddenly the day is over without having achieved anything noticeable. Therefore, defining time slots for your tasks (not just emails) can help you get more done each day. Knowing when the work on one task will end and another will begin helps you to be more productive because you know you have a limited time to work on said task.
6. Change Your SceneryStuck on a task? In a creative rut? Walk away from your workspace! Don’t force yourself to work on a task you’re stuck on - you and I both know that’s not productive. Take a break or move on to something different. Maybe even take 5 to 10 minutes to meditate or step outside. Stepping away helps you refocus, allowing you to eventually go back to that task with a fresh mind and maybe even a few new ideas!
7. Stop MultitaskingYes, I know, it’s easier said than done. As women, we pride ourselves on our multitasking abilities - it’s a survival skill! But in the long run, you will often get much less done multitasking than you would if you were to dedicate your focus to getting one thing done at a time.
Interested in more productivity tips? Check out some of our favourite articles to help you get more done!