It's hard not to watch those you admire from afar — your favorite musician, a groundbreaking entrepreneur, maybe even your boss — and wonder, "How does she do it? How does she find the hours in the day?" Whether it be in a work setting or on a world tour, our peak performances happen when we figure out how to make the best use of our precious 24 hours.
The word “productivity” may leave you with some stress-inducing images. You see yourself churning away non-stop, hitting deadline after deadline, all while somehow simultaneously answering each incoming email and request in real time. Stop right there. The best ways to boost your productivity aren’t actually so frenetic. Finding extra time in the day to accomplish more comes down to little tweaks to your everyday routine, automating tasks, and seeing the big picture — all while keeping cool and remembering what matters to you.
Those people you look up to from afar? They very could well have a staff of people at their beck and call. But you really can maximize the hours in your day without all that. We’ve partnered with Microsoft Surface Laptop to tell you our best productivity tips for you to not only manage your schedule but thrive in your professional and personal life.
Exercise In The Morning
Setting your alarm clock for an early-morning workout is a total buzzkill, sure, but hear us out. It’s been proven that regular exercise can increase memory retention and boost productivity. Getting it done in the morning ensures that you’ll A) get it done, period, before last-minute plans or assignments come up later on, and B) reap the benefits all day long. So wake up and get moving, whether it’s taking a brisk walk with your pup or making that 6 a.m. spin class.
Schedule Small Breaks During The Work Day
Work smarter, not harder. Taking breaks may seem counterintuitive, but they’re actually beneficial. Constant stimulation causes our brains to zone out, making it impossible to maintain peak output for long, continuous stretches. You can be more productive in a five-hour chunk of time that includes a 10 minute break every hour, rather than trying to work five hours straight. In other words, work 230 minutes instead of 300 and get more done? Cool.
One widely used tactic is known as the Pomodoro Technique (which, fun fact, is named after a pomodoro tomato kitchen timer). This method involves setting a timer for 25 minutes and working diligently on a single task during that allotted time — no checking your phone or email! After the timer goes off, make a checkmark on a piece of paper. Then take a five-minute break and repeat. After you make it to four checkmarks, take a 15-minute break.
Figure Out Your Top Three
On a given day, you probably have far more than three things on your lingering to-do list. But prioritization is a huge step on the road to becoming your most productive self. Start your morning by determining your top three tasks for the day. Type them up, but be specific. For example, “work on that thing that’s due Friday” will not serve you as well as “conduct three phone interviews for Friday’s report” or something to that effect. Outlining tasks in specific detail will make your work seem more manageable and prevent you from drifting to anything less important.
Use Your Lunch Break Wisely
Is eating your sad desk lunch while mindlessly scrolling through Facebook really the best use of your time? Obviously not. Use the your lunch hour to accomplish something more worthwhile. The simple act of actually leaving your desk or workspace will help you decompress, so, if nothing else, take a quick walk. If time and proximity allow it, try to fit in errands like dropping off a return or picking up a prescription so you can save time after work. Or: network! Ask a former colleague or friend-of-a-friend whose career path you find interesting to join you for lunch.
Keep Your Phone Away At Work
How many of us work with our phones out on our desks in plain sight? Most of us, probably. It’s out of habit: A 2016 study found that the typical cell phone user touches their phone 2,617 times every day. But every time your phone buzzes with a text or Instagram notification, it takes focus away from the task at hand and allows for outside elements to dictate your day. Keep your phone in your bag or inside your desk while working, and chances are, you’ll forget about it entirely.
Pack Dinner Leftovers Right Away
Eating healthily can help keep you focused and energized. The best way to know exactly what we’re putting in your body is to cook it yourself! Search for quick-to-make, weeknight-friendly recipes that allow for leftovers. Keep eco-friendly, portable containers on hand and pack up leftovers immediately, as a part of clean-up. You’ll have a home-cooked lunch for the next day (or two or three days — the freezer is your friend) without spending a minute of extra time.
Try Site Blockers
Obvious statement of the day: certain websites are complete productivity killers. If your fingers can’t find the strength to avoid typing their URLs into your address bar every ten minutes, it may be time to take drastic measures. And by drastic measures, we really just mean a site-blocking app. With site blockers, you can limit the amount of time you spend on time-wasting websites or block them entirely.
Update Your Devices
If you’re still working on a several-year-old, aging laptop, you’re probably not working at your full potential. Invest in hardware that's as versatile and hard-working as your are. The Microsoft Surface Laptop is an excellent option when you're getting a lot done; it features an intuitive touchscreen, 14.5-hour battery life, and compact design, weighing just 2.76 lbs. With the Surface Laptop, your technology will never be what's holding you back.
Stick To A "Uniform" To Save Time Getting Dress
How many minutes have you spent cluelessly standing in front of your closet in the morning trying to decide what to wear? Or is it hours? Save time and eliminate outfit remorse by sticking to a uniformed style of dressing, at least during the workweek. It can be something like a sundress and blazer or dark skinny jeans, a scoop-neck tee, and ankle boots. Chances are, you already have a few go-to pieces and styles anyway. Reflect on that and figure out what makes you feel most like you. Commit to dressing that way on the daily and you’ll never look back, so you can get out the door and get to work!
This article is brought to you with the help of Microsoft Surface.
The brand new Microsoft Surface Laptop was released this June. The Surface Laptop features the following:
- Ultra-thin and light laptop fits easily in your bag.
- Four tone-on-tone color combinations and sleek, elegant design complement your personal style.
- Enjoy a natural typing and trackpad experience, enhanced by a luxurious Alcantara® fabric-covered keyboard.
- The power to do what you want, with all-day battery life.
- Experience beautiful images in true-to-life color on the vibrant 13.5” PixelSense™ Display with touchscreen.
- Invisible immersive Dolby® Audio™ Premium sound that comes directly from the keyboard, with no added bulk or grills.