If you’ve ever felt exhausted at work you’re not alone. Having a full-time job, part-time job, or a combination of both is tiring and at times overwhelming. You might be wondering if it’s even possible to be more productive at work.
Let me paint a picture for you.
Your alarm clock goes off and you groan because you’re not looking forward to going to work. You know that as soon as you get into the office there are a stack of papers on your desk, a long to-do list from your boss, and a bunch of emails and phone calls to return.
Talk about overwhelming.
The worst part is, there’s a chance that you have to get every single thing done that day. How in the world can you take all of that and be productive at work?
While you might not be able to lessen the amount of work you have to do, it is possible to refocus your energy and goals in order to maximize your time and be more productive at work. More productivity will not only help your mental and physical health, but it helps your overall general well-being.
Here is a guide to help you be more productive at work.
Prep the night before
A productive workday begins with a successful morning. A successful morning begins with a successful evening. Start each day by taking the guesswork out of your mornings by prepping the following evening.
This includes setting out the clothes you’re going to wear, cooking/packing your lunch, packing in your work bag, and making a to-do list of everything you want to get done that day.
A lot of times people start the workday stressed out because they are rushing out of the house or they are trying to remember everything at the last minute. By taking just a few minutes the night before to get yourself entirely organized, you can leave the house feeling relaxed and ready to go be productive.
Wake up with time to spare
Pretty much all throughout my undergrad, I was running late. I only gave myself a few minutes to get ready. This meant that I never had breakfast, I was always rushing, and I didn’t enjoy my mornings.
I have since switched to waking up a little bit earlier so that I can have time to complete all the things I want to do before I leave the house. It makes such a difference when you can have some spare minutes and enjoy your morning instead of starting your day in a rush.
Personally, I struggle with this. I hate eating early in the morning. I tend to have my first real meal about three hours after I wake up.
But, if I don’t eat something it affects my body. How I’ve managed this is by making a green smoothie every day. It’s a complete lifesaver.
However, it doesn’t matter what you eat for breakfast as long as you eat something. There is real science behind why breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It gives you energy, it provides you with nutrients, and it sets you up to have a clear and focused mind that is not hungry.
On the days that I have a little extra time, I love to make eggs and beef sausage along with my green smoothie. My favorite combination!
Enjoy your commute
Have you ever walked into work already upset because your commute was bad? Maybe you sat in traffic, maybe you got out of the house late and it caused you to stress on your entire drive, or maybe you just hate commuting to work.
Don’t let your commute get you down.
Instead, use that time to start feeling productive. That way, the moment you walk into work you already have a productive mindset that’s ready to focus.
Whether it’s fifteen minutes or two hours, use that commute for productivity. If you drive to work listen to a podcast or audiobook. If you commute by train read a book or an article about current trends, or watch a Ted Talk.
Eat the frog
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first” Mark Twain
This excellent quote by Mark Twain is a great example to live by with our workday. When you get to work and you have a big task, be productive and get it done first thing in the morning. Basically, you have to eat the frog.
If you do your most difficult task first thing in the morning this clears up the rest of the day so that you can focus and keep up your positivity.
There have been times at work where I spent so many consecutive hours working on something that my eyesight literally goes blurry. Has that ever happened to you? This happens because we fail to take breaks.
If you find that you’re often working until your eyesight gets blurry or you’re going and going hours at a time, that’s not good. Try to incorporate 10-minute breaks at the end of each hour so that you can walk away from what you’re working on and come back refreshed and feeling more productive. Breaks also give your mind and body a rest so that you aren’t constantly burnt out while you’re working.
Leave the office for lunch
It is so important to have some sort of separation from your desk or a place of work. One of the best way to do this is to leave your workspace during your lunch break. You can eat your lunch outside, go for a walk, run some errands, whatever you want to do. The trick is just to do it outside of the office.
This little break away from all of your work will give you a chance to refresh your mind and be refocused when you come back to your office. Talk about a productivity win!
Recommended: 6 Ways to Be Productive During Your Lunch Break
Don’t overload your day
Instead of having a to-do list that never gets done, make a shorter list so that you can accomplish everything on the list each day. I used to make to-do lists that had 15+ items on them and I was always feeling stressed and overwhelmed because I never accomplish everything on my list. Nowadays, I only put around 3 to 5 things on my list that I know I can get done each day.
I recommend putting your top three things on your to-do list only. This may look different each day or it might be a task that spills into the next day. If you know you have a task that you definitely won’t finish in one day go down to only one or two items on your to-do list. Nothing feels more productive than being able to actually check off all the items on your list.
Make afternoon tea or coffee
This might sound silly, but having something like your coffee to look forward to at 3:00pm is a huge motivator. I like to reward myself with a cup of tea or coffee but only if I stay on task and remain productive throughout my workday.
By the time 2:00 or 3:00pm rolls around, I know I have earned my coffee and that I have worked hard and stay productive throughout the day. If tea or coffee isn’t something you’re in to find something else to reward yourself with.
Check your email sparingly
Only check your email when you are ready to respond. What’s the point of checking your email 10 billion times a day just to have to go back through the emails later and respond.
I used to be guilty of this. There was a time where I would check all my emails first thing in the morning and then leave them unresponded until hours or even days later. By the time I sat down to respond to my emails, I had to go through unnecessary emails and try to remember which ones I need to respond to.
This is such a waste of time and is extremely counterproductive. Now I practice productivity by only opening my emails when I’m ready to respond to them.
Leave work in the office
There is enough to do at home without bringing office work into your household.
When I first started my desk job, I linked my personal email to my work email. This meant that I never really left work in the office. I found that I was responding to work emails all throughout the evening and night. There was no separation between work and home.
This constantly left me feeling drained because I had blurred the lines between my job and my personal life. Believe it or not, this affected my productivity because I never had a chance to refresh myself and get back into work mode.
After a few months in this, I unlinked my emails and decided to leave work at work so that when I got home I could focus on everything I needed to do at home. It really has been a game-changer.
End your night doing something for you
This could be watching Netflix, hanging out with your family, or indulging in some self-care time. It doesn’t matter what you do, it just matters that you do something for you.
Having a full-time job, whether it’s a desk job or something else, is tiring, overwhelming, and often stressful. We can do as many things as we want to do in order to be productive such as eating the frog, taking breaks, making to-do lists, and monitoring our emails sparingly, but none of that matters if you are burnt out.
Do your best to avoid burnout by focusing on you at the end of each busy workday.