It’s impossible to get work done when you’re feeling unproductive, but sometimes it may feel like boosting your productivity is entirely out of your control.
The Best Productivity Methods to Manage A Heavy Workload
That’s not always the case, and there are some additional tips you can try that help to minimise any external factors from breaking your concentration. I’ve researched and collected various tips to present you with, the complete guide to managing a heavy workload.
1. Remove Unnecessary Distractions
Unnecessary distractions count as things like phone notifications, office chatter, the sound of others tapping away at their keyboards, even clutter on your desk. Anything that can break your concentration, will break your concentration.
With that, it’s best to clear your desk of anything that isn’t necessary. Keep the clutter on your desk to a bare minimum. If it helps you work, brilliant. If it doesn’t, then take it home. This can be hard to start with, as most of us get sentimental with certain objects.
If you’re finding it hard to get rid of things, then maybe ask a friend or colleagues for advice. An objective opinion is second to none when deciding what to keep in your workspace.
2. Eat the Frog
Writer Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning”. What he means by this, is to tackle the hardest piece of work you have to do first. The frog is the task that you’re particularly dreading, and most likely to be procrastinating. But how does this help?
On the whole, people are their most productive in the morning. A good night’s sleep has left their mind refreshed, and they should be ready to tackle another day of hard work.
Once you get into the office, take a few minutes to set yourself up for the day, and then just get started on the hardest piece of work you have to do. That way, when you do reach the midday slump you won’t have to concentrate on trying to ‘eat the frog’, you’ve already done the hardest work.
Part of retaining productivity is about planning your workload in accordance with how you best perform. Once you’re able to do that, everything else becomes much easier.
3. Take Planned Breaks Frequently
Contrary to belief, sitting in front of your computer all day isn’t the best way to get things done. You and your brain need regular breaks if you want to maintain your efficiency. Taking a 5-minute break every hour or so can help to keep the mind alert, especially if you go get some fresh air.
When you’ve been sitting at your desk for ages, your mind can begin to stagnate. This slows down workflow and can make tackling any task feel like a hard grind. When you encounter this sort of mental state it’s usually best to step away from your desk, instead of trying to power through. To make sure you’ll be taking breaks regularly, you can schedule them ahead of time with the time blocking method. With this approach, you’ll always have time for tasks and breaks.
By taking regular breaks, you allow your mind to reset. It’ll help to reduce long-term fatigue and mean that you can keep being more productive for longer. Also be aware that these are guidelines, not rules. If you’re in the flow, it’s more detrimental to your productivity to take a break.
4. Focus on One Thing at a Time
It’s impossible to get quality work done if you are trying to think about everything at once. Stop. Take a minute to figure out all of the things you need to do in a day. Write them down, so you don’t forget. Then work through them, one by one.
One of the best ways to do this is with the Eisenhower Box technique. For those who are unaware, former president Dwight Eisenhower organized tasks according to their importance and urgency. It broke down like this:
- Important and Urgent: Do it Now
- Important and Not Urgent: Do it Later
- Not Important and Urgent: Delegate it
- Not Important and Not Urgent: Delete it
Taking this time at the start to organise everything can seem counter-intuitive, but it’ll actually help you produce better work, faster. This is because the time you’d waste during the task by thinking about what else you have to do is alleviated.
Since you’re not thinking about doing 100 things at once, your mind has the time and availability to focus all of your attention on one project. This undoubtedly means that you’re going to be able to produce work with higher clarity.
5. Improve Your Workspace Ergonomics
How your workspace is laid out also impacts your productivity. Are you comfortable in your chairs? How is your posture? Is your workstation set up correctly? These questions can seem odd, but they are vital in making sure you are adequately protected from any work-related strains and injuries.
Making sure that you have a good posture, and your chair is supportive are both integral to any physical pain in your back, neck, and shoulders. Issues here can end up leading to time off, or further damage later in life. It’s extremely important that you take care of yourself at work, especially since you spend a significant amount of your life at the office.
Standing desks are an excellent addition to your workspace. In Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams stands on his desk to get a different perspective, and that’s exactly how adjustable height desks help raise your productivity. An alternative positioning gives a different frame of mind, which is essential to staying productive and creative.
Additionally, if you are looking at a computer screen all day, then you may benefit from some blue light glasses. They can be picked up relatively cheaply, and filter out the harmful blue light that damages your eyes. This reduces eye strain and can protect the health of your eyes in the long term.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate
Delegation is one of the most effective ways to manage a heavy workload. Rather than doing absolutely everything yourself (where you’re likely to get swamped and overworked), hand off the low intensity, time-consuming work.
It should go without saying that you shouldn’t give this to someone who’s already got a packed schedule, but instead someone without a heavy workload or a freelancer. By getting others to do work that would typically take you several hours, you’ve now freed up your valuable time and should be able to accomplish more in the day.
Handing work off to freelancers is extremely useful, because they can help take the pressure off you and your team, without the cost of hiring additional people.
7. Shorter Objectives are Better Objectives
Nothing keeps productivity up like finishing a task. When people are able to tick off multiple tasks in a day, they can feel like they’re making tremendous progress, and keeping morale (and subsequently, productivity) much higher.
The workload doesn’t need to change at all, but breaking up one larger task into smaller sections makes the entire thing more manageable and gives you a better idea of how and where to start.
Designing the workload this way also helps to keep a more accurate eye on progress. Rather than simply knowing how long a project should take, you can see which areas you may struggle with, due to the length of time needed. This means that you can get support or training in those targeted areas, helping to improve your productivity even more.
8. Healthy Snacks, Not Candy
Sugar (especially processed sugar) is one of the worst things for your brain and body. It gives a short burst of energy, but when that’s gone you end up feeling more tired and sluggish than before.
Instead, it’s better to ditch the sweet stuff and instead have a fruit bowl, or other healthy snacks, in the office. Fruit offers a slow release of energy, which keeps your brain feeling more alert for longer.
Then you’ve got the health benefits too, such as decreasing blood sugar levels (which reduces the risk of diabetes), reduced tooth decay, and increasing your metabolism (helping you to burn any excess fats).
Your diet is a massive factor in your productivity and general wellbeing. By making sure this is sorted, you’re bound to see an improvement in your productivity.
9. Add a Little Greenery
Plants can have a fantastic effect on your mental wellbeing. They can reduce stress and sickness, while simultaneously giving your productivity and creativity a boost.
They’ll need a little attention from time to time, but buying a hardy plant like Aloe Vera is a great way to get the best of both worlds.
The degree of these effects vary from person to person, but on the whole, having a plant nearby while you work can be extremely beneficial to your mental attitude. When you’re trying to improve your productivity, being more positive is never a bad thing.
There are loads of ways for you to improve your productivity. By using these ideas, you’ll be able to sort through your workload much faster, and by getting your work done in the most effective order you’re going to be able to dramatically increase your productivity.
It’s important to remember that the above are guidelines, not hard and fast rules. What matters is that they work for you.