This is a guest post from Christopher Wallace.
It’s 2 p.m. on a Wednesday and that fully loaded triple-decker sandwich from the nearby deli has you wondering how long you can get away with catching some z’s under your desk, or if that drawing-eyes-on-your-eyelids thing really works.
Whether or not you plowed down a big meal or have the mid-week blues, those last few hours of the work day or week can be some of the most unproductive. So how do you pick yourself up and get back into the swing of things?
The answer is in creating good habits. While taking a swig of an energy drink might help for a few hours, it’s really only a temporary patch. Good habits at business not only help motivate you throughout the day, they start to kick in naturally once you make them a part of your daily routine. And once you have good habits in place, you’ll find that you’re more productive, less tired, and more satisfied with your overall performance.
That’s right, one of the best ways to stay on top of your game is to take brief breaks throughout the day. According to a recent study published by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a brief break every 20 minutes or so throughout your work day will help you focus more on the task at hand. And “break” doesn’t necessarily mean go surf the internet. Just switch your focus to a different task for about three to five minutes. The distraction allows your brain to draw itself out of stasis and stimulate itself with a new line of thinking. After your break, delve back into the task at hand and you’ll be surprised by the fresher perspective your line of thought takes.
No other projects to stimulate you? Then don’t take your break by reading something involving, such as an article from the Washington Post. You might become too absorbed and spend much longer than necessary on your break. Instead, pick something light, like browsing through Pintrest or playing an old-fashioned round of Bat the Penguin. Better yet, why not get up and stretch your legs for a couple minutes? Even a brief walk around the office will help stimulate your system and help prevent illnesses such as heart disease. In fact, recent studies show that even a one minute movement break several times a day can be beneficial to your health.
Schedule Your Project Work Times In Advance
While we usually remember to schedule important meetings and deadlines for major projects, we rarely block off time on our calendars to prepare for these tasks. Instead of shoving a few minutes in here and there, look at your calendar in advance and block off times to work on that important presentation or put together that proposal you have due in two weeks. By blocking off the time in advance – and sticking to those times to work on those projects – you know you’ll have time to complete your task and with only a fraction of the stress created by stealing bits of time from other projects and/or waiting until the last minute. You’ll not only feel more productive at the end of the day, you’ll probably feel much better about the end results.
Good Week? Don’t Drop the Ball the Next
After a very productive week, employees are often inclined to “take it easy” the following week. This can happen in just about any profession – from sales to professional services to public works. A super-busy week can take it out of you, but that doesn’t mean the next week has to suffer. Instead of coming in with low expectations, pick something entirely different to focus on and give your brain a break from the chaos of the previous week. A fresh project or a new goal could be the stimulation you need to keep your productivity up and your exhaustion low.
Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate
Good employees and good business owners often feel as though they are the only ones that can complete a project the way it needs to be done. And while that might be true, that doesn’t mean you have to personally handle every last detail. More often than not, you’re working as part of a team – whether it’s a project team or your company as a whole – and teams should always work together. For example, if an upcoming project requires detailed statistics, which, let’s say, you’re good at, but it needs to be presented in an easy-to-understand format, which you’re not, there’s no harm in asking another member of your company who might be savvy at chart graphics to put your numbers into a comprehensible format. And if someone else is really good at creating presentation covers, ask them for help. There’s no point in working alone when you’re a part of a team. In the end, if you’re anxious about the final product, schedule enough time to go over it with a fine-toothed comb before presenting it. But by delegating different jobs, you’ll not only give yourself enough time to finish the project, you’ll probably receive valuable input that you might not have gotten if you hadn’t reached out. Remember, even if you’re a small business owner with only one employee – yourself – there are always people you can reach out to for help. And when they ask you to return the favor, that not only helps to build good business, but good friendships, as well.
Live It, Love It – If You Don’t, Why Are You Here?
Let’s face it – another reason for poor productivity is simply not liking your job. There’s a lot to be said about loving what you do, and even liking what you do is better than hating every second of the day. The Chinese social philosopher Confucius once wrote, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
If you feel your passion waning for your profession, find out what you liked about it in the first place. What drew you to your current job? What position were you hoping to attain when you started with the company?
Consider what it is that you truly like about your job and do everything you can to make that your focus. By enjoying what you do, that passion will be passed on through your work and your productivity will only benefit.
There are many other ways in which you can increase your productivity and create better business habits, but these should get you started. Remember, if you schedule your day with enough time to complete your present and future tasks, take breaks, keep your mind fresh and enjoy what you do, you’ll not only be more productive, you’ll be more satisfied with your work week all around.
Christopher Wallace, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, has more than 20 years experience in sales and marketing. At Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of logo pens and other promotional items such as imprinted apparel and customized calendars, Christopher is focused on providing quality marketing materials to small, mid-size and large businesses. He regularly contributes to Promo & Marketing Wall blog.