We work very long hours in Britain. And millions of us dive right in at 9am and don't emerge until after five, sometimes a great deal later. It's difficult keeping the pace up when you work normal office hours, never mind long days.
How, exactly, can you keep your productivity levels high through long, busy days? Here are our top tips.
The Night Owl vs The Early Bird
Figure out which time of day you're most productive.
Consider the key hours when you're invariably on fire and in the zone. Some of us perform best early in the day, others get the most done in the afternoon, and some night owls prefer working late into the evening.
You might find you work best from 11.00-15.00. Could you take a late lunch to take full advantage of your best time of day? Save the most complex, tiring and challenging tasks for the times your brain is at its best and leave the rest for less-productive times of day.
Lists + focus = better productivity
You can't beat a list for getting daily priorities straight.
Think of it like triage. Some tasks are essential, some important, others 'nice-to-haves' you can safely leave until later. Some people create an overview with a week's activities in it, some prefer a detailed daily list.
A list lets you instantly prioritise and re-prioritise tasks on a visual basis so you know where you stand at any particular point and can adjust things according, making your priorities clear.
Then there's focus. Now you know exactly what has to be tackled first, focus on it. It's tempting to check emails, but leave them to a specific time of day instead of interrupting yourself to deal with them as they come in.
Do it all or delegate?
Are you a control freak? If so, be honest with yourself – are you hanging on to projects and tasks you could easily hand over to someone else, just for the sake of holding onto the reins?
If you're running fast but standing still, this is your chance to bite the bullet and delegate elements of your tasks and projects to the appropriate people, or discuss the potential for delegation with your manager.
Don't work at weekends... and walk at lunchtime
You might sit down at a desk all day - but that doesn't mean it isn't tiring.
The pressures of work can get people down, and weekends are vital for recharging emotional batteries. When you work from home at the weekend or – worse still – end up in the office, your productivity will suffer.
Lunch hours matter, too. Treat your lunch hour as a mini-weekend, a chance to recoup vital energies. When you take a brisk walk you'll benefit from fresh outdoor air. If you can find some trees to be with, even better. As any biologist will tell you, trees give off chemicals that make humans feel wonderful - happier and more alert, positive and refreshed.
What about you?
How do you keep your productivity levels high? We'd love to know your top tip.
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