Keeping yourself consistently productive can be hard.
These ten productive work habits can help streamline your work day and keep you on track.
Stick To a Routine
Creating and sticking to a routine can help improve the flow of your day.
Morning routines – making coffee, commuting, and checking your email – can put you in a working mindset. End-of-day routines can help you wrap up the workday and reduce the stress you take home with you.
If you do the same task often, aim to do the steps in the same order each time. Task-specific routines like this can help smooth out the process and ensure that you don’t miss any steps.
1. Keep Your Workspace Clean and Organized
Everyone is always going on about how important organization is, and everyone is right. Keeping your workspace clean and organized can help prevent distractions, limit your stress, and make it easier for you to find the information you need.
This goes for digital space as well as physical space. Keep your desktop, documents, and emails well organized, not just your desk.
2. Organize Your To-Do List Too
When you make your to-do list for the day or the week, try to designate which tasks are your top priority – either put those at the top of your list or star or highlight them. This can help prevent small items from falling through the cracks in your day.
Remember to keep your daily list realistic, too. Only listing the things you really think you can get done that day can help you feel more accomplished and reduce your stress at the end of the day.
3. Limit Distractions
Limiting distractions is much easier said than done, but it’s still important to make an effort.
Put your phone on silent, if you can, or at least turn off notifications for any app you shouldn’t be using while you work. If you work in a noisy environment but prefer quiet, try out noise-canceling headphones. Having headphones on can also prevent people from trying to start a conversation with you, which is a distraction that is much harder to limit.
4. Communicate Clearly
Keeping your communication as straightforward as possible can help streamline your interactions with others and reduce the miscommunications you have to spend time fixing.
Keep in mind the three Cs of effective communication – clear, concise, and correct. Double-check your information and make sure to proofread your written communication before it goes out.
5. Don’t Dismiss Criticism
It’s can be easy to dismiss criticism as a personal attack, but taking a step back and reflecting on what was said gives you the opportunity to grow as a person.
Get to the core of what was said and consider how you can improve in that area or fix that problem. Even if you think the criticism is untrue, take a moment to look at yourself from someone else’s perspective. See how you might come across to them and how that compares to how you thought you were acting.
6. Ask For Help
Asking for help can be heard – after all, no one wants to seem dumb or helpless at work – but asking for help can be a quick way to get information or even lighten your workload.
Also, if you ask someone for help you’re giving them the chance to be helpful and do something nice. Most people like being helpful and are willing to do so if they have the time or ability to help.
7. Admit When You Don’t Know
Much like asking for help, admitting you don’t know something can be difficult. You might be afraid that others will think less of you for not knowing something.
Try using the phrase “I don’t know, but I can find out.” This is a good way to admit that you don’t know something while giving you the chance to redeem yourself by finding out the necessary information or learning a new skill. This also gives the people around you the sense that you’re a go-getter and a positive person.
8. Don’t Just Complain
Complaining can be a good way to vent your frustrations and bond with the people around you, but if all you do is complain you might be ruining your reputation.
If there are things you find yourself complaining about over and over, try getting to the root of the problem and finding a solution. Solving a recurring problem can make your life easier, removing some stress and giving you one less thing to complain about. It also lets people see you as a productive, solutions-oriented person instead of just a complainer.
9. Build In A Buffer
If you are in a position to set your own deadlines, take advantage of that ability. Figure out how long you think a task will take, then add a bit more time.
The best case scenario is you finish the task ‘early’ and impress someone. Worst case scenario something goes wrong but you have enough time to fix it because you gave yourself a buffer.
10. Start The Day With a Small Task
Most people suggest starting your day by tackling a big, high-priority task. This isn’t a bad idea, but on mornings when you just can’t get into your work or aren’t feeling motivated try doing one short, easy task first.
It feels good to be able to cross something off your to-do list, and that feeling of accomplishment can help motivate you to tackle the bigger, more important task.
Creating new habits can be hard, but sticking with these productive work habits can go a long way toward improving your workflow.