There’s nothing worse in the world of work than getting up each morning and dreading the journey to the office.
Once you get there, you know what awaits you – a massive to-do list that has consistently grown since the start of the year and, seemingly, not reduced one little bit, no matter how hard you chip away at the individual tasks contained within.
Hitting a productivity rut is incredibly demoralising and can cause real problems both professionally and personally.
And that stands to reason, because if we’re happy at work, we’re generally pretty happy at home, too, and there’s nothing that can make you happier than ticking off every single job as a job well done each day.
If you’ve recently hit a productivity rut and think all hope is lost, we’ve got some good news: it isn’t.
What follows is our ten favourite tips for getting yourself back on track and raising your productivity game to levels you didn’t think possible.
1. Take a holiday
Get that two week trip in Greece you’ve been putting off booked – now.
If you work yourself into the ground, you’ll quickly hit a productivity rut. We all need a break now and again, and if you’ve avoided having one because you simply ‘can’t fit it in’, it won’t just be your productivity that takes a hit – your wellbeing can suffer, too.
The world will carry on while you’re sunning yourself, so take that time out.
2. Take a look at the mirror
You may be inclined (understandably) to point the finger elsewhere when it comes to looking for the source of your productivity woes.
But have you looked in the mirror?
Sure, there may be mitigating factors behind your inability to get lots of stuff done, but when it comes down to it, you’re the one who can make things happen, or leave them to fester.
This won’t be easy, but take some time to sit down and really ask yourself some tough questions. What could you be doing better? Which areas of your working life are failing?
Deep down, you’ll know where the problems lie, and the first step to overcoming them is to admit they exist.
3. Stop trying to do everything at once
This is a classic mistake we all make at some stage in our professional lives: trying to do everything at once.
If you’ve got a to-do list featuring ten tasks, yet eight of them seem to be closely related, it might feel sensible to tackle them all at once, right?
You’re only human, and you’ll be at your best when you tackle bite-sized tasks, one at a time.
Start breaking down your to-do list so that you can categorise tasks by their difficulty, estimated duration and the time by which they need to be delivered. That will enable you to tackle the list far more strategically and, as a result, get things done in a much shorter time than you’d expect.
4. Look at your to-do list and work out what you’ve been avoiding
You know the tasks we’re about to refer to – the three that you can guarantee at the end of every day will be moved onto the next day’s list.
Ordinarily, that would be ok, but these three tasks have done this little hopscotch routine every single day for the last three weeks, and you know what that means?
They’ll never get done. Ever.
This is for one simple reason: you’re avoid them. Sure, you tell yourself every time you defer them that they can wait, but you know, deep down, that isn’t the case. Before long, they’re going to cause a real problem.
As soon as you hit day three of deferring a task, it’s time to take stock and ask yourself why you’re doing so. Clearly, you need to tackle it head on, delegate or admit that it isn’t something you can do!
5. Stick to a consistent sleep cycle
If you regularly go to bed gone 11PM and get out of bed after multiple rounds of pressing the ‘snooze’ button, your productivity levels are going to take a hit.
Instead, try sticking to a consistent sleep cycle where you rise and fall at the same time every day. Your mind will be better for it, and you’ll start each day with a desire to get things done.
6. Start taking the exercise you keep promising yourself
Exercise is just as important as sleep when it comes to developing a healthy, productive mindset
Perhaps you joined a gym three months ago but have only been for your induction. Maybe you bought some running trainers at Christmas but have only taken them out for a quick jog around the block. Whatever the reason for your faltering exercise regime, it’s time to get real.
You needn’t do much exercise, but a brisk walk each day or a run every couple of days is a good start and really will get that mind whirring as it should.
And don’t worry – it gets easier, too!
7. Use email, but stop relying on it
Email remains an important method of communication, regardless of the constant stick it gets from certain quarters, but there’s no escaping the fact you can all too easily get hooked into using it as a way to communicate all the time.
We’re some way from email becoming obsolete, which means there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using it each day to communicate with those further afield and to share certain content in-house.
Once you find yourself emailing the person who sits three desks away, though – stop. This will impact your ability to get things done in a bigger way than you might think. Who needs to wait for an email reply if a job needs doing now, after all?
8. Stop skipping lunch
You might feel a slight sense of righteousness as you skip lunch and work while everyone else procrastinates at the local coffee shop or within the canteen, but you’re the one doing yourself a disservice.
Always take a lunch break – even if it’s just for fifteen minutes while you eat a sandwich and catch up with your colleague. That small break and injection of food and fluid will make all the difference.
There’s one final tip we’d like to leave you with, and that’s to let go.
You’re probably harvesting several tasks each week that someone else should be undertaking for you. This is very common and nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s a clear indication that you’re struggling to let go and trust others to do the work for you.
Take an honest look at your list and remove the things other people can do. Then, focus on our tips above, and you’ll regain your productivity mojo, we promise!