What does it take to feel good about what you’ve accomplished by the end of your work day? Often it’s a mental checklist of what we did or did not finish, but are we doing everything we can to set ourselves up for success?
A good evening leads to a better work day
Sometimes in order to have the most productive day at work, we have to start the night before. A successful evening routine can prepare your mind and body for the day ahead. It can also save time in the morning, giving yourself the gift of a calmer morning routine and commute to work.
Patrik Edblad offers a simple three-step evening routine, along with science-backed suggestions for a better night’s sleep.
Read more: Reduce Stress, Increase Energy & Save Time With an Evening Routine.
Mild annoyances can turn into big problems
Since we don’t work in a bubble, other people’s productivity habits (or lack thereof) can impact our own effectiveness at work, if we let them. An article from the Work Intelligently blog names the five most annoying habits that affect you – whether you’re the one indulging in them, or they’re being done around you.
Meetings, for example, are an infamous source of frustration and wasted time in companies. Create a buffer time at the beginning or end of meetings, the article suggests, to counteract people arriving late and help ensure more efficient meetings.
Read more: 5 Annoyances Affecting Your Productivity at Work.
Are to-do lists evil?
In an article for The Week, Eric Barker interviews author Cal Newport (So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love) about the five ways he manages to accomplish an extraordinary amount of work, while still finishing by 5:30 p.m. every day and rarely working weekends.
Here are the five tips:
1. To-do lists are evil. Schedule everything.
2. Assume you're going home at 5:30, then plan your day backwards.
3. Make a plan for the entire week.
4. Do very few things, but be awesome at them.
5. Do less shallow work — focus on the deep stuff.
“Schedules and plans sound cold and clinical,” writes Barker, “but the end result couldn't be farther from that. You'll be less stressed, create more time for friends and family, and make things you can be proud of.”
Read more: How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
Just say no
The fourth of Newport’s five points is that to be more productive, you must “do very few things, but be awesome at them.” That strategy is the entire focus of another article by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits.
He explores the challenges of trying to do too much, and offers clear, concrete and motivating reasons to say no to anything outside of whatever are your two main focus areas in your life.
Just how do you say no? Babauta offers a script of sorts. “Tell them that you really want to help,” he writes, “but your plate is too full. You can’t serve them well, so you need to say No.”
Read more: When Your Plate is Too Full.