So you’ve gotten a week of work into the fresh new year under your belt. You’ve got all your resolutions and goals in place, with ample sticky notes and Outlook reminders set to keep you on track. A steady stream of coffee and adrenaline have been coursing through you all week as you hungrily attack your goals and projects with poignancy and passion. Professional outlook? Quite favorable. Life is good.
But what happens when February rolls around, the late winter slump hits. Your coffee needs increase from 2 cups to 10 just to make it through the day. The fire under your projects is now a tiny, oxygen-deprived flame. How do you relocate that missing productivity you had just a few months ago?
Inc.com produced a great article on 7 tips for maintaining productivity well after the New Year ambition starts to wane!
- Work backwards from goals to milestones to tasks. Writing “launch company website” at the top of your to-do list is a sure way to make sure you never get it done. Break down the work into smaller and smaller chunks until you have specific tasks that can be accomplished in a few hours or less: Sketch a wireframe, outline an introduction for the homepage video, etc. That’s how you set goals and actually succeed in crossing them off your list.
- Stop multi-tasking. No, seriously—stop. Switching from task to task quickly does not work. When you multitask, your IQ drops by an average of 10 points, 15 for men, five for women (yes, men are three times as bad at multitasking than women).
- Be militant about eliminating distractions. Lock your door, put a sign up, turn off your phone, texts, email, and instant messaging. In fact, if you know you may sneak a peek at your email, set it to offline mode, or even turn off your Internet connection. Go to a quiet area and focus on completing one task.
- Schedule your email. Pick two or three times during the day when you’re going to use your email. Checking your email constantly throughout the day creates a ton of noise and kills your productivity.
- Use the phone. Email isn’t meant for conversations. Don’t reply more than twice to an email. Pick up the phone instead.
- Work on your own agenda. Don’t let something else set your day. Most people go right to their emails and start freaking out. You will end up at inbox-zero, but accomplish nothing. After you wake up, drink water so you rehydrate, eat a good breakfast to replenish your glucose, then set prioritized goals for the rest of your day.
- Work in 60 to 90 minute intervals. Your brain uses up more glucose than any other bodily activity. Typically you will have spent most of it after 60-90 minutes. (That’s why you feel so burned out after super long meetings.) So take a break: Get up, go for a walk, have a snack, do something completely different to recharge. And yes, that means you need an extra hour for breaks, not including lunch, so if you’re required to get eight hours of work done each day, plan to be there for 9.5-10 hours.