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24 Hours Not Enough? 10 Tips Of Time Management To Make Every Day Count

24 Hours Not Enough? 10 Tips Of Time Management To Make Every Day Count

Whether you are a career driven professional, a small business owner or a busy single parent, every single individual is bound by the restriction of time. Although each of these individuals has a variable range of tasks that require completion, for example, they face similar challenges and must effectively manage their time if they are to achieve success. Many struggle to achieve this, however, and there is one fundamental reason for this. More specifically,

people fail to discern between clock time and real time, as while the former relates to the exact amount of seconds, minutes and hours in each day, the latter is relative and can be impacted by the type of activity you are undertaking and your approach to completing it. Time

    Understanding this point provides a foundation for effectively managing your time, while also enabling you to become more productive as a result. With this in mind, consider the following steps for building on this foundation and making the most of every day:

    1. Develop a Suitable Sleeping Pattern

    The key to daily productivity starts the night before, as a suitable pattern of sleep sets the tone for a productive day. According to clinical psychologist Stephanie Silberman Ph.D, the best way to achieve this is to shift your sleep cycle in fifteen minute increments to determine a viable routine that can be easily sustained. So if you would like to get up earlier without encountering feelings of fatigue, begin to wake up fifteen minutes earlier for a 3-4 day period to ensure that your body adjusts effectively. You can then repeat this cycle until you are comfortable and have developed a sleep cycle that enables you to begin the day at the optimum time.

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    2. Accomplish Tasks that are Physically Near to One Another

    Once you have risen and are preparing for the day ahead, you can save time by completing tasks in a logical manner that prioritizes location. If you are preparing breakfast in the kitchen, for example, you should identify any additional tasks that require your attention in that area before moving on. If you are able to complete a high volume of tasks in a single location and within a specified period of time, you can create a more efficient schedule that is focused on accomplishing goals rather than travelling from place to place and retracing your steps repeatedly. Although this may require a change in outlook, it will ensure that you are more productive in terms of direct action.

    3. Consider the Benefits of Commuting

    Multi-tasking is often considered to be the benchmark of productivity, but people are often too ambitious in their approach and tend to compromise on quality rather than quantity. It is therefore important to be more selective when multi-tasking, in order to strike the ideal balance between accomplishing goals and maintaining an excellent standard of output. If you were to choose to commute to work using public transport rather than drive in, for example, you are effectively creating additional time to complete tasks rather than being forced to hastily scan emails before you jump in the car and set-off. Professionals can spend as much as 10% of their working day travelling to and from the office, so commuting offers a unique opportunity to spend this as productively as possible.

    4. Eat a Balanced and Healthy Lunch

    The food that you eat is also a crucial consideration, whether you are planning a mid-morning snack or lunch. Food habits are easily compromised when we have a busy schedule, as we are inclined to grab a sugar-laden snack or a fast-food lunch to provide a quick and unsustainable burst of energy. Not only does the productive use of time rely on your ability to spread your calorie intake evenly throughout the course of the day, but it is also necessary to ensure that you eat just the right amount at lunchtime. Women need an estimated 400-600 calories for lunch if they are to remain productive throughout the course of a working day, with meals low in carbohydrates and high in fiber (such as wholemeal bread, fruit and vegetables) the ideal options. If you are in need of an afternoon snack, consider slow-release energy food items such as bananas or avocado.

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    5. Take A 20-Min Power Nap After Lunch

    During the most stressful times of her premiership, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was renowned for forgoing sleep in order to retain control of her government. So instead of heading to bed for 6-8 hours of uninterrupted rest, she instead took regular, 20 minute naps to treat sleep deprivation and recharge her brain. Taking a short power nap after lunch is in fact a scientifically proven technique that helps to provide a burst of alertness and increased motor performance when it is most required, which in turns means that you become more productive over the course of an entire day without the need for artificial stimulants such as caffeine.

    6. Take Regular Breaks from the Computer Screen or when Focusing

    As the day progresses, you may well find yourself becoming irritable or lacking in focus. This is because excessive reading, driving or staring at a computer screen can cause significant eye fatigue, which may ultimately cause long-term sensitivity to light and pain in the neck, shoulders or back. In the short-term it can prevent you from completing tasks in a productive and time-effective manner, so it is important to take regular breaks wherever possible. Given that eye fatigue impacts on an estimated 50-90% of all computer workers, these individuals can also safeguard themselves and their schedule by creating a work space where their screen is positioned at least 20 inches away from their gaze.

    7. Vizualise an Outcome and Remain Focused on Goal Accomplishment

    On the topic of focus, it can be increasingly difficult to accomplish tasks and projects as the day draws to a close. This is not only the result of mental fatigue, however, as distractions often serve as alerts that implore us as individuals to orient our attention elsewhere. According to David Rock, a co-founder of the Neuro Leadership Institute, the human brain is finely-tuned to distraction and reacts in an automatic and virtually unstoppable manner when attention is diverted. Being aware of this can at least help you to remain as focused as possible on individual goal accomplishment, as can visualizing an outcome and the satisfaction that this will bring.

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    8. Embrace Technology to Boost Productivity in the Evening

    Technological advancement has been kind to the working man, as it has triggered a series of innovations that aid productivity and help to alleviate hectic schedules. If you are an entrepreneurial individual who combines a full-time, 9-5 job role with the management of a for-profit blog once you have returned home, for example, you can choose from a vast selection of WordPress hosting sites to help keep your content secure and provide automated updates regarding plugins and new themes. By exploring technology and integrating selected innovations into your everyday schedule, you automate multiple processes and save considerable amounts of time.

    9. Get Active and Exercise in the Evenings

    With all work and professional tasks completed for the day, you can finally enjoy some time to relax, unwind and undertake personal chores around the home. This may also provide you with an ideal opportunity to exercise, however, as cardiovascular activity that is conducted in the evening is rumored to improve your physical performance, create a more alert mental state and negate the desire to snack and lose focus on any additional tasks that requires completion before you go to bed. Evening exercise is also considered to be less rushed than morning work-outs, which means that you can make the most of your time and enjoy a more beneficial physical regime over a concerted period of time.

    10. Set a Calm and Soothing Alarm

    For individuals who find it difficult to wake naturally in the morning, it is tempting to invest in the loudest and most obnoxious alarm imaginable. This is simply unnecessary, while it is also important to note that waking up suddenly from your sleep does little to improve your level of mental awareness or enthusiasm for the day ahead. Instead, you can rely on your natural circadian rhythms and other environmental signals to guarantee a more peaceful start to the day, aided by soothing sounds from the rain forest or a wake-up light that grows brighter and gradually increases the light level in the room in stages.

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    Featured photo credit: Becoscky / Flickr via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on November 27, 2020

    15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

    15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

    Where you work has an enormous impact on how you work – on your ability to focus (and stay focused) and your overall ability to be productive. That means the design of your office, whether you work at home or in a larger company environment, is of supreme importance. This isn’t just about Feng Shui, this is about producing results and getting things done.

    According to studies done on workplace and productivity, the most significant factor in determining an employee’s ability to focus is their physical environment. In fact, it’s been said that a well-designed office can increase your productivity about 20%. However, despite the studies and statistics, nearly half of the employers interviewed don’t consider workplace design a good business investment.

    So what is a productivity hack to do? What if you work in an environment that doesn’t promote focus?

    Check these 15 factors and make changes where you can. A little adjustment can produce a lot of impact.

    Lighting

    Lighting is one of the most important factors in staying focused and feeling inspired to create, yet it’s one of the most overlooked and least invested in. Bad lighting can cause fatigue, eyestrain, headaches and overall irritability. Dark spaces can actually produce depression.

    If you work in a company office:
    You probably have no control over your general lighting so bring in your own, if need be. Consider using natural light bulbs or a light therapy device.

    If you work from a home office:
    Open the windows and doors and let natural light in. Using lamps in a variety of areas for cloudy days or when it’s dark.

    Chair and Table

    If you’ve ever sat at a desk to do work but found yourself adjusting, stretching and moving too often to actually stay focused, then you’re aware of the importance of having a correctly fitted table and chair. In today’s work environment where so many of us are sitting for most of our day, it is critical that your throne fits your body probably.

    Consider these quick ergonomic checks:

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    • Eyes 24-36 inches from the computer screen. The top of the monitor should be below or at eye-level.
    • Feet should be on a foot rest or resting on the floor.
    • A slightly reclined chair posture is best to reduce pressure on your spine and minimize lower back pain.

    If you work in a company office:
    Ask for an adjustable chair. Add pillows for your lower back or bum, if you need it. Many companies will also provide risers for computers to adjust the height of your computer screen (and a separate keyboard to keep your hands and wrists in the ideal position)

    If you work from a home office:
    Invest in a decent chair or at least use a few pillows to make the chair more comfortable. If the table is too high, add pillows to your chair. If it is too low, consider buying leg risers from your local hardware store and using books beneath your computer to raise the screen. Use a separate keyboard.

    Clutter

    Your mama was right, it’s important to clean up your room. Clutter may help the creative mind create, but it isn’t necessarily helpful for focus and productivity.

    If you work from a company office: While you can’t control the cleanliness of the office at large, do keep your own environment around you clean. Spend 10 minutes every morning or evening making sure things are put away, filed, organized and generally out of sight so you’re not distracted by it later.

    If you work from a home office: Because you work from home, the entire house or apartment is potential for distraction. If you can afford it, hire a professional cleaning service to keep your home clean. If not, schedule a specific day and time to clean your home. Commit to doing daily pickup at a specific time. And spend at least 10 minutes every day making sure your office  is organized and tidy.

    Room Color

    The colors around us all have an effect on our moods and brain function. It evokes both a physical and emotional response. So choosing the right colors for your work space has the ability to affect your productivity. For instance, blue has been said to illicit productivity. Mind you, too much of anything can be overwhelming, even color.

    If you work from a company office: Bring in items from home that are a certain color that inspire you and keep you focused. Use postcards, magazine cutouts, even just blocks of color will do.

    If you work from a home office: If you work from home, you have much more control over the colors around you. Consider repainting a wall, adding color to the table you work at, or hanging pictures that are dominated by a specific color.

    Room Temperature

    Most offices keep their temperatures around 65-68 Fahrenheit but it turns out that this might not be good for productivity. Warmer rooms actually make people more productive.

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    If you work from a company office: Most offices are regulated by somebody else, so bring a space heater, sweaters and blankets to your work space.

    If you work from a home office: Depending on the season, open the windows or adjust the heat or a/c so that you’re more comfortable and warm. Pile on the sweaters in the winter or add a space heater to your feet.

    Room Scents

    Like the color of the space you work in, our sense of smell can powerfully affect our mood, mindset and thus our productivity. Consider adding scents to your work space to jar your mind into focus when you start to notice yourself drifting off.

    Try using these scents to stay focused:

    • Pine – Increases alertness
    • Cinnamon – Improves focus
    • Lavender – Helps to relax you during a stressful work day
    • Peppermint – Lifts your mood
    • Citrus (any) – Wakes you up  and lifts your spirits

    If you work from a company office: Most people will not appreciate added scents to their work environment so you’ll need to keep it subtle. Keep essential oils in your bag or drawer and when you’re in need of a boost put a few drops on a handkerchief or cotton ball.

    If you work from a home office: Use candles, incense or essential oils. You can also simmer herbs and spices in the kitchen to fill your home with a warm scent.

    Noise Level

    The noise level in a work environment can vary greatly depending on the size of the team you work with, the office design and company culture. But make no mistake, the noise around you affects your ability to stay on task. Not only can it be distracting, it can also raise stress levels making your ability to sustain productivity far more difficult.

    If you work from a company office: Bring in noise cancellation headphones and use music services like Spotify or Songza and choose concentration boosting sounds, like white noise.  Find out if your office offers quiet work spaces for times when you need the utmost focus.

    If you work from a home office: Sometimes the complete quiet can be as distracting as an office. Use a service like Coffivity to mimic the noise of a coffee shop, which has been said to help with concentration.

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    Air Quality

    Air quality can drastically affect our ability to focus and think clearly. Get this: OSHA estimates that the total annual cost of poor air quality in office environments costs employers $15 billion “due to worker inefficiency and sick leave.” Yeah, it’s serious business.

    If you work from a company office: Talk to them about installing air filters. If there is a way to bring in fresh air through windows or doors, arrange to have them opened for at least a portion of the day. If nothing else, get a personal air filter to have on your desk or nearby.

    Also, get a plant (or better yet, have the company buy and use more plants in the office!). Plants are great at filtering the air and providing clean, purified oxygen.

    If you work from a home office: Open windows and doors and let in the fresh air. Install an air filter or get a portable air filter to keep near your desk. And, yes, you too should get a plant.

    Different Spaces

    If you can manage it, give yourself more than one space to work from. Putting yourself in a new space with different qualities and things to look at quite literally shifts your brain and helps you stay focused.

    If you work from a company office: Many offices offer a variety of environments to work from: your personal space, lobbies, break out rooms, conference rooms, kitchens and eating areas and, if you’re lucky, they also provide lounge areas. Use all these spaces to vary your routine. Make sure your supervisor knows so they don’t think you’re slacking off and know tat you’re actually getting more done!

    If you work from a home office: If you work at a desk, add a comfortable couch or chair to the room. If your space is less flexible or ultra tiny, think about more creative ways to change your work space. Rotate the pictures on your walls every couple of days. Sit on the other side of your desk. Get a lamp and multiple colored bulbs. Or go work at a café, the library or in a park.

    Organization of People

    Most employers organize employees around job function or in specific divisions. Instead, studies show that people are more creative and productive when they are sitting with colleagues that share the same goal or client. Not only are you able to get answers and generate solutions quicker, but because you’re directly accountable to the people around you, you’re more likely to stay on task and productive.

    If you work from a company office: Ask your employer if you can experiment by clustering your group together in a conference room for a day or a week. Get feedback from everybody involved. Show the results. If your company won’t make permanent adjustments, perhaps they’ll allow you to work together a couple times a week when the conference room or lounge area is free.

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    If you work from a home office: This is a little bit more difficult because when you work at home you’re not with colleagues. You can recreate a similar space digitally, however. Create a Skype group and have everyone logged in during working hours. You can do morning accountability and check-ins while remaining available for questions, solution-finding and general banter that promotes creativity.

    Idea Storage

    Ever been working hard when you’re suddenly distracted by a great idea? At first you try to push it away, but then the next thing you know you’re 20 pages deep into an online search on the topic. Ideas should be encouraged and cultivated, but when they come right in the middle of another task it can be incredibly distracting. Instead, create a place to store your ideas that’s easily accessed from your work space.

    For both a company and home office: Keep pads of paper around, have a chalk wall, get a white board – when you have a spark of inspiration write it down right away to get it out of your head then return to the task at hand. Then, at the end of the day or when you have free time, collect all the ideas and review them. With a little time and space you can better decide if it’s worth pursuing or better to leave it on the back-burner.

    Refreshment

    Our brain needs nourishment to keep going, especially when we’re driving hard and staying focused. You can let a rumbling stomach go on for only so long before the brain shuts down. Assuming your different is like wanting your car to keep driving without having to stop and fill it with gas. A novel idea, but not realistic.

    If you work from a company office: Pre-make snacks for the day and/or week. Or, bring in prepackaged snacks. Keep in mind that junk food has properties of diminishing returns so if you’re buying your food prepackaged think nuts, fruit, unsweetened yogurts, and hummus and crackers. Likely, your company provides coffee, tea and water so you don’t have to worry about supplying that for yourself.

    If you work from a home office: If you work from home, this can be a key distraction. Try to reduce the number of times you walk into the kitchen each day. To do this, keep quick and   easy snacks pre-made or prepackaged ready and near your desk. Keep a water bottle nearby. And consider bringing a kettle into your office and stocking tea and coffee so you’re   not tempted to wander around the house and lose time poking through the pantry.

    Bring in Nature

    We are biological creatures, first and foremost. So we are deeply affected by our access to (or lack of) the natural world. It’s important for our psychological and physiological functioning, which directly affects our ability to be productive.

    If you work from a company office: If you don’t have windows in or near your work space, bring in pictures of the outdoor world. Keep a picture of something natural as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks outdoors at lunch or in between major tasks. Just a few minutes outside in the fresh air and sunshine can boost our mood and shake out the doldrums. Be sure to add a plant to your desk, too!

    If you work from a home office: Keep the shades open and, if you can, let in fresh air. If you can’t see anything natural out of your window, keep pictures of the natural world as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks. Or, just step outside and put your feet on the ground. Put plants in your office – research shows that having live plants in your office makes you more productive, happier and less stressed.

    Digital Space

    For most people, our primary work is housed within our laptops and our physical environment simply the backdrop to our digital lives. Make sure your computer has software that helps you sculpt the digital environment that best elicits productivity. Use focus apps like this one or this to decrease distractions. Or design your day using intervals with an app like this one to keep you at your peak focus throughout the day.

    Featured photo credit: Phil Desforges via unsplash.com

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