Making the transition from varsity to the working world when you start your training contract can definitely come as a shock to the system. Suddenly your days are a lot more structured and free time is nothing but a distant memory. You’re also expected to perform at top level consistently so it’s important that you are able to hone your productivity to make the most of each day.
We’ve put together some tips that we hope will help you improve your productivity and performance:
Learn to manage your time: Time management is the secret to a productive day, and the biggest time waster is unexpected and often unimportant tasks, writes David Lavenda in Entrepreneur magazine. “We all know that urge to read the email that just came in or to peek at the latest notification to pop up,” he says. “This unintentional task-switching eats up more time than you might think though. University of California information scientist Gloria Mark found that it takes an average of 26 minutes to recover from trivial interruptions. To avoid this, plan out your day and compartmentalise unexpected interruptions.”
Switch off pop-up notifications on mobile devices and on desktop: Pop-up messages that will tempt you to check that email or message will interrupt your concentration, so switch them off to avoid the disruption and temptation. Limit checking your email to set times during the day.
Streamline your workspace: Business News Daily’s Assistant Managing Editor, Nicole Fallon Taylor advises starting the day by de-cluttering your desk or workspace. Having a clutter-free environment helps you think more clearly and also limits the amount of time you will need to spend searching for work or documents that you might need.
Get your most dreaded task out of the way first: Whether it’s checking and responding to emails or writing a particularly unpleasant report, you should do the task that you would rather put off first. “Your other tasks will seem less daunting by comparison, and you'll stop stressing about that one task all day, making you more productive overall,” says Taylor.
Take regular breaks – and step away from your desk during your lunch break: It might seem counter-intuitive that leaving your desk will make you more productive, but it’s critical to take breaks to keep focused. Working non-stop or running from one meeting to another will make you tired, and eventually you’ll stop thinking clearly. Making these breaks a routine increases predictability, points out Lavenda, creating a regular schedule to keep your mind organised.
Write to-do lists: Using checklists will help you prioritize your work, says Taylor, and keep you on track with what needs to be done. Plus, it will give you a feeling of accomplishment when you are able to tick off tasks on the list as you are finished them.
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