How I plan to be more productive at work

One of my professional goals for 2015 is to be more productive at work. That isn’t very specific, I know, so I thought I’d put together a plan so that I can make it more of a SMART goal, and less vague.  I’m starting work again today (though it is only a 1 day work week), so this will be day 1 of attempting this new plan.  Next week will be the real test and my schedule will get back to normal.

First up, I need to get to work on time every morning. Our office typically opens at 8am, but I’ve been lucky enough to have a flexible schedule that allows me to make my own hours (within reason). However, I think that the lax attitude that I take towards my arrival time (normally closer to 9 or 9:30) is then carried thru to my attitude to my work. My goal is to be at work by 8am every day. This will be tough for me, especially on days when I have early morning workouts, or when I have late sporting activities the night before, but I think it will start my day with the right focused mindset. I will keep track of the days where I do or don’t make it and keep tally going to measure my success.

Next, when I get to work, I need to do a thorough brain dump. One of the things that distracts me a lot at work is when my brain starts thinking about all the non work related things that are on my to do list. If I start my day by emptying all these things out of my head, on to paper where I can come back to them, I think it will help my focus.

While doing this brain dump, I will also get myself a specific to do list of work tasks that must be done that day and prioritize them. This will give me the items to focus on and I won’t be as likely to get spread out and distracted.

And finally, I am going to set up a break schedule, so that I focus hard for a certain period of time, then I can reward myself with a break to get a drink or snack, or check my personal email and maybe check something off the non work related to do list.

Example schedule:
8am arrival at work
8-8:15 brain dump
8:15-8:30 to do list creation
8:30-10:00 focus work
10:00-10:15 snack break
10:15-12:30 focused work
12:30-1:00 lunch
1:00-3:00 focused work
3:00-3:15 snack break
3:15-4:45 focused work
4:45-5:00 review to do list and prep for tomorrow
5pm leave work

I hope this plan will help me be more productive. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Do you have trouble staying focused at work? What tips or tricks can you offer?

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2 thoughts on “How I plan to be more productive at work

  1. This is something I’ve struggled with as well. I had the same trouble with my schedule slowly shifting later and later. This morning I arrived at 8 am, after a long break – we’ll see if I can keep the momentum going on a regular week. The other thing I was bad for was taking a long time to “start up” in the morning. I’d get a coffee and sip at it while not being very diligent. Since I’ve started to cut out coffee, I have less reason to stay at my desk (I work 50/50 in the lab) which means I will be more likely more productive. We shall see.

    My biggest thing about staying focused is to ignore my email except for morning/lunch/before I leave. It removes a lot of unnecessary distraction. I also try to set a game plan for the next day before I leave so that I have an idea of what to expect regarding meetings and setting up experiments.

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    • Thanks for the tips. Glad I’m not the only one with this issue.
      Today started off well, I managed to get to work before 8am, but it’s been hard to get a good focus on as everyone is chatting and catching up after the holidays… I’ll try my best today, but I figure that Monday will be the real return to normal.

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