Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Powering Through the Holidays: How to be a Glutton for Productivity

With the holidays coming up, you probably have a lot going on. The festive period is great for spending quality time with family, attending work parties, and eating great food. It can also, however, be the cause of a significant slowdown in your productivity at work. With so much going on, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of the season. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can boost your productivity and make sure you get things done during the holiday period.

Switch off distractions around you

Technology can be a great help in boosting your productivity at work, but it can also be a huge distraction. The internet, cell phones, and social media can be the bane of worker productivity. These things are constantly vying for your attention-- a text from your best friend, an email, and “likes” on your latest Facebook post. It may seem like these disruptions aren’t a big deal, but think about it: the number of texts you receive throughout the day adds up. Each disruption means you have to spend time refocusing and re-engaging in what you were working on before.

If you feel you are easily distracted by the technology around you, try using one of the many browser extensions that enable you to block certain sites or turning your cell phone off. Even knowing that you won’t be disrupted by the sound of notifications on your phone will be a big help in letting you focus on the task at hand.

Beware the myth of multitasking

There has long existed a myth about an “efficient” worker as one who is handling multiple tasks at once. We may believe these people are successfully taking care of multiple items all at the same time. In reality though, this is impossible. The human brain is actually incapable of focusing on multiple things at once. Instead, when people think they are multitasking, they are actually switching from one task to another very quickly and spreading their attention thinly across those tasks. By focusing instead on one task at a time, you are far more effective and efficient in getting work done.

Working through your tasks

To get through your work, it helps some people to have some kind of system. There are many productivity systems out there like Getting Things Done, Personal Kanban, and the Pomodoro technique. Finding the right one for you is often a case of trying different ones out and seeing which work best. You can even take certain aspects of one productivity system that work for you and combine them with aspects of others. Whatever method you choose to work through your tasks, it’s a good idea to start by making a list of things you need to accomplish. A list of your tasks enables you to see exactly what needs to get done and prioritize it effectively based on its importance and when it’s due. More advanced users often make different categories of lists. For example: items that need to get done, items they are waiting for responses on, and more long term project-related items. However you decide to do it, the most important things about a productivity system is that it works for you.

Take care of yourself

When on a productivity kick, it’s tempting to try to do everything. Don’t fall into this trap-- it can actually be counterproductive. People will stay later at work for longer hours to try to get more accomplished. This is a great way to burn out quickly and actually end up accomplishing less. Instead, you need to take care of yourself if you want to be productive. Exercising regularly is a great way to ensure you’re in peak physical health. By exercising, you improve your stamina to be able to get through the day, improve your mental health and ability to handle stress, and reduce illnesses that keep you out of the office. Taking care of yourself also extends to the workplace. Even though you’re working hard, be sure to take regular, short breaks. Breaks allow you to decompress and clear your mind before getting back to working through your tasks.

Constantly improving productivity

Working more productively is a constant effort to come up with different systems, processes, and tricks to create the ideal mindset and environment to get things done. Taking the time to implement some of these tips as a starting point will go a long way to keeping you on track through the excitement and distractions that come with each holiday season.

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