Accomplish More at Work

“My boss called in to ask if I’d finished the project he gave me this morning,” a friend told me the other day. “I had to tell him that I hadn’t even gotten started on it yet, because of all the unexpected phone calls and technical problems we had today.”

Do you sometimes find that your workplace environment distracts you from your actual work? Often, we aim in one direction in the morning only to find ourselves adrift by lunchtime, wondering how we got so off course! What can we do to maintain our focus in order to accomplish more at work?

One solution is to get to work a little earlier than normal. Gina Belli of suggests that arriving early can give you a feeling of control. “There’s something about feeling like you’re ahead of the day that can really improve your sense of autonomy and control. Instead of trying to keep up, you’re setting the pace. Getting to work early helps you feel more in control of your day — and this boost can go a long way.” Besides the benefit of fewer distractions, Belli adds that arriving early can make a good impression on your boss who might show up ahead of time, too!

Speaking of distractions, if we want to accomplishing more at work, we need to learn to limit distractions. Here at Amtec, beneath our second-floor office is a restaurant that sometimes starts booming out music long before the night crowd comes in. Since I can’t type and plug my ears simultaneously, our business manager has to ask the landlord to call the restaurant…it’s a hassle, but it usually quiets them down so I can think straight again! I’m also easily distracted by kitchen conversations, the noisy copy machine, and the cleaning crew that comes when I work late. Luckily for me, I can shut my door, but if you work in a cubicle, you may need to wear earbuds or ear plugs!

Planning out your entire day beforehand, either the night before or that morning, can also make you more effective at work. Organizing expert Barbara Myers gives seven tips for a plan to accomplish more at work the next day:

1. Look at your schedule for tomorrow and note your available or non-scheduled time.

2. Think about your priorities for tomorrow. Is there a project you’ve been meaning to complete or a pile of paperwork to sort through or a proposal that needs to be written? Write down your priorities.

3. Schedule time blocks in your day. Do like activities together when possible. Return phone calls together. Check and respond to emails only at two or three specific times during the day. Run all errands during one trip out of the office.

4. Plan for tomorrow at the end of today’s work day. You will know your schedule and your priorities, and your to-dos are fresh in your mind.

5. Schedule loosely. Leave yourself enough free time to deal with interruptions and emergencies.

6. Make a daily appointment with yourself for at least 30 minutes. Close your door. Work on whatever is most important.

7. Plan on spending five minutes on something you have been procrastinating. The most difficult step of any task you’ve been putting off is the first step. Generally, once you start, you will not stop after only five minutes.

One thing’s for sure–to accomplish more at work will require commitment and self-discipline. Occasionally waking up early, limiting distractions, and taking the time to plan out your day won’t just happen without intentionality. But these practices will be worth the effort if they help you stay on course and reach your goals–not just for the day, but for your entire career.

Is perfectionism keeping you from being more productive? Read this liberating post!

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