It’s morning. You notice you have only a few tasks to finish by the end of the day. Great! Then, things come up, and your to-do list becomes longer than you expected. Now it’s almost 5 pm, and you barely got half of your tasks done. You start feeling overwhelmed, so you decide to finish the rest of them tomorrow. Then the next day, you get more tasks to do. It’s like an awful chain reaction.
Does this all sound familiar?
Instead of letting each day control you, take back control of your day by shifting your mindset. Here are five ways you can change your outlook to make the most of your time at work.
Establish a productive domino effect with healthy habits
The domino effect occurs when a repetitive routine becomes a daily habit, which then has either negative or positive effects. If you have a great routine at work, you will likely increase your work efficiency. On the other hand, if you have a routine that includes wasting time on low-priority tasks or obsessively checking your email each morning, your decreased working efficiency will follow you all day long.
You can avoid creating a negative domino effect for yourself by setting up a positive domino effect to help lighten your workload. If you tend to fall into a food coma after lunch, for example, making a habit of doing more of your work in the morning will then trickle down to having less-stressful (and thus more productive) afternoons. Or you could make a to-do list first thing in the morning, and then check off items in order of priority to help you fit in tasks you might not have had time for otherwise.
The way you think influences your performance in everything you do. And that very much includes your work. So instead of thinking, Oh no! I only have two hours left to finish this task, think positively. Think to yourself, Two hours is plenty of time to complete this task. You might be surprised at how effective this can be.
You can also think positively by practicing gratitude at your workplace, verbally sharing positive thoughts with others around you, and taking some time to visualize yourself meeting the goals you’ve set for a given day or week.
Negotiate with your notifications
Do you get tons of alerts from email, text, Facebook, Slack, and so on? Is your smartphone bugging you 24/7? It’s easy to get distracted in the digital world, but distractions are the enemy of productivity, so don’t let your notifications win the war for your attention. Studies show that people take about 25 minutes to refocus after an interruption, meaning you lose nearly 25 minutes of valuable time when you check just one notification.
But smartphones aren’t all bad. Smartphones offer employees and clients the ability to communicate conveniently and quickly, their accessibility can save time in urgent situations, and a full 20% of smartphone users even use their phones to apply for jobs. When approached correctly, phones can make your work life easier, faster, and all-around better.
So instead of being tied to your phone every time it makes a noise, make your phone work for you. Mute your notifications and then set a time to check them every couple hours to minimize how often your focus wanders, or allow yourself a few minutes of phone-browsing once you’ve finished a substantial task.
Take a break
Taking breaks may not feel productive, but a 30-second micro-break can make your productivity go up at much as 13%. So when your brain stops working, taking a break might be the best thing for it.
Here are some ways you can take a break and get the blood flowing again:
- Lift your legs while sitting at your desk
- Plan regular walks around the office to the break room or restroom
- Use an app or browser extension to remind yourself to stretch or look away from the computer
In many cases, moving a bit or getting a brief change of scenery will give you the boost you need to overcome whatever has you stumped. So give yourself permission to take a break every so often.
Ask for help
You don’t have to deal with everything alone. Having an overloaded schedule can make it hard to know where to begin, leading to big lapses in productivity. If you have a lot on your plate, stop overwhelming yourself and ask for help.
Ask your teammates to help with brainstorming ideas. Find your coworkers who have spare time, and divide up the tasks that are slowing you down. And if you work remotely without any nearby coworkers, consider joining a coworking space so that you have a few fellow workers to turn to if you need to talk through a new concept or get some encouragement.
Refresh and shift your mindset now
Your performance at the workplace depends on your mindset. With these five pieces of advice in mind, you can start shifting your mindset today and take back control of your workday!
Hilary Bird is a digital journalist who writes about the things that fascinate her the most: relationships, technology, and how they impact eachother. Hilary is currently working on sharing her knowledge on how social media affects human behavior.