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Do you often feel as though there just aren’t enough hours in the day? When you feel stressed and anxious because there’s too much on your plate, it’s time to take a step backwards and see where you can change up a few daily habits. Here are ten easy ways to boost your everyday productivity ­– and help you feel less frazzled.

1. Create time blocks
This is especially helpful if you have quite a lot to get through during the day. Make a to-do list and then allocate chunks of time to each task. According to research, working for 90 minutes at a time is the optimal way to stay focused. So break up your day and schedule those important tasks into 90-minutes windows.

2. Do your biggest project 2nd
It’s easy to procrastinate on difficult or time-intensive projects and spend more time on smaller or unexpected tasks. This could end up being counterproductive because it may feel as though you never have the time to work on your bigger projects. If you can, try and get a jump-start on your big task second thing in the morning. Why not first? Well, it can be overwhelming diving straight into something that demands your full attention so early in the day.

Checking off a smaller, quick task is a great way to get your motivation going and give yourself that confidence boost to tackle the rest of your busy day.

3. Schedule less
To do lists and time blocks are great for keeping track of what you need to get done during the day. However, when the unexpected happens — a colleague needs your urgent help, for example — it can create chaos and leave you feeling stressed or frazzled. There will always be unexpected things that need your attention at some point, so make a habit of scheduling less in for the day and adding “free time windows” to your calendar.

Nothing unexpected happening? You can always use this extra time to continue working on bigger projects or to catch up on some admin.

4. Limit meetings
Face-to-face meetings are important in any business, but sometimes these can be counter-productive, especially if they’re long and there are plenty of them. Here are a few ways to limit meeting time during your work week:

  • Schedule all your meetings on one or two days.
  • Set a time limit for each meeting.

Where possible, instead of holding non-crucial meetings, create shared virtual spaces for collaboration. Google Docs, Asana and Trello are all great platforms where team members can provide feedback, update tasks, share information, and keep up to date with what each person is working on.

5. Prepare for the next day
When you start your day with a set schedule of what you need to do, you’ll be surprised by how much more productive you are. Make it an end-of-day work time ritual to block off five minutes before you go home. Use this time to plan tasks for the next day, block off “time windows”, and see what needs to get done early on, when you’re at your most focused. To save time in the morning and feel even more organised, pack your lunch, prepare your gym bag, and plan your outfit for the day, the night ahead.

6. Multitask less
Multitasking is a way of life for most businesses. However, this can be counter-productive as the reality is, you’re unable to give your 100% focus and effort to any one task that you’re busy with. To be more productive at the office, try and focus on one task at a time.

If you need to, set timers, log out of Skype, turn off your phone, put your earphones on or close your office door, and don’t check your email when you’re working on a project that needs your full attention. You’ll be surprised by how quickly you’re able to check off your daily tasks when you don’t have all those distractions.

7. Clear clutter 
Mess equals stress. Cluttered desks and papers that haven’t been filed away or a computer desktop that’s covered in folders and documents can feel overwhelming and disorganised. This can leave you feeling stressed or frazzled when you need to find something at the last minute. If you feel as though you never have time to get organised, create a weekly gap of time in your calendar – even if it’s just for 20 minutes – to clear your office and desktop clutter. Friday afternoons are ideal as this is usually the quietest time during the week.

8, Wake up earlier
How you start your day determines how the rest of your day is going to go. If you leave the house rushed and late, you’re probably not going to feel very calm or positive by the time you get to the office. When it feels like you need a 25-hour day, wake up an hour earlier. If that feels like too much of a jump, start with 15 minutes, and then half an hour – find what works for you. Use this time to ease into your day and get organised. Tony Robbins calls this the “Hour Of Power”. Here are a few ideas to start your productive day on the right note:

  • Exercise, even if you only have 10 minutes. There are plenty of free workout videos that are perfect for this.
  • Make a cup of tea and write down what you’re grateful for in a journal.
  • Meditate, pray, or just focus on the quiet before the rest of the house is up.
  • Read something inspiring – browse Pinterest or read a blog post that makes you feel good.

9. Set specific time slots for emails
You might be surprised by how much time you spend responding to emails throughout the day. To save time, make a habit of scheduling time blocks for answering emails. This can be first thing in the morning if they’re time sensitive or if they only take a few seconds to answer, later in the morning, and at the end of your work day.

The world is not going to end if you don’t immediately reply to an email — if it’s that urgent, be rest assured that someone will phone you.

10. Reward yourself
Sometimes, just knowing that you have a reward waiting, is all the extra motivation you need to complete that big project or difficult deadline-driven task. So give it a try – create mini rewards for yourself (these can be as simple as a coffee date with a friend, or as extravagant as planning for a well-deserved weekend away).

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