By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Have you ever gotten to the end of what seemed like a very busy day only to wonder what you actually accomplished? These tips can help you stay focused and increase productivity:
A tool like RescueTime can help by letting you know exactly how much time you spend on daily tasks, including social media, email, word processing, and apps.
Researchers at Florida State University have found elite performers who work in intervals of no more than 90 minutes are more productive. Take movement breaks between your 90 minutes of focused time to maintain a higher level of concentration and performance.
For open-ended tasks or projects, give yourself a deadline and do your best to stick with it. This can help you stay attentive and avoid distractions to pull you off your goal.
Entrepreneur Steve Olenski recommends implementing the "two-minute rule.” The idea is this: If you have a task that can be done in two minutes or less, do it immediately. This action actually takes less time than having to get back to the task later.
According to Atlassian, the average office worker spends approximately 31 hours per month in unproductive meetings. Before attending or booking your next meeting, ask yourself whether you can accomplish the same goals or tasks via email, phone, or web-based meeting.
When you do two things at once, your brain is “task switching” and just like a computer, your brain slows down when you give it multiple commands at once.
Rather than wasting time chasing after the illusion of perfection, complete your task to the best of your ability and move on. If need be, you can always come back and adjust or improve it later.
It is hard to resist the allure of an email, voicemail, or text so turn off your notifications, and build in designated time to check email and messages.
Planning for your next day the night before makes it more likely that you’ll start on the project and priorities at hand.
Some research actually shows that having pleasing elements, like plants in an office can increase productivity by up to 15 percent. Add family photos, candles, flowers or other items that make you smile.