9 Ways To Have a Productive Work Day

127 comments

I recently read an article about productivity at work and I thought it would make a fun post.

Savvy Sugar reports that the average woman’s work day consists of 35% ‘productive work’.

Where does the rest go?

  • Email 20.8%
  • Looking for stuff 18.75%
  • Interruptions12.5%
  • Internet searches 13%

 

[If you ask me, email, looking for stuff, and interruptions are also work!]

I think most of us can agree that we wish there was more time in the day to get things accomplished. Here are some of my favourite tips and tricks for maximizing the work day productivity!

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1. Cross it off

Before you go to sleep, make a list of what you want to accomplish the next day, starting with the most important things first. Make sure you include easy-to-accomplish tasks too! Crossing things off a list is fun and it gives you confidence to keep going.

Making a list before sleep is also thought to help you fall asleep faster because you are able to ‘empty’ your mind. Having a good night’s sleep is also crucial for a productive morning!

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2. Make rising fun

Give yourself something to get excited about first thing in the morning so you feel eager to get out of bed. My motivation is usually spending time with Eric before he goes to work, a delicious breakfast, or even getting excited about an early morning workout. When I know the weather is nice, I pump myself up for a great run and imagine how good I will feel after. Oh, and Sketchie helps with rising…but you knew that already ;)

Other motivation: Peanut Butter and Jam Vegan Overnight Oats!

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3. Get a buzz, but don’t overdo it.

Caffeine in the form of loose leaf Japanese Sencha Green tea always makes me feel focused within seconds without that jittery feeling. Occasionally, I also like to have a cup of French press coffee in the afternoon if I need a boost, especially when doing a boring task…like entering 170 recipes into Recipage!  Oh yes, I drank a lot of coffee to complete that mission!

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4. Get the blood pumping

I’m not always successful at working out first thing in the morning, but when I do I feel my best all day long. I start my day feeling upbeat and accomplished! It helps if I pump myself up the night before, pick a few new workout songs, and also get my workout gear ready next to the bed. The easier I make it for myself to get up and go, the more likely I am to do it. I’ve never regretted a workout first thing in the morning.

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5. Plan Breaks

Most people function best when they have regular mental and physical breaks to look forward to. When I’m doing a rather boring task like entering business expenses into Excel, I like to take a 5 minute break for every 30 minutes of work. I am able to focus much better when I give myself a stimulating break.

Make your break a reward time for you! Walk around to get blood flowing, do your desk stretches!!!, hit up your favourite websites, chat with a friend (talking actually stimulates and energizes your mind!), drink some water. Breaks keep my motivation high, happiness up, and I’m able to focus on the task without my mind wandering. If I can squeak out 50 minutes of productivity for every hour, I’m a happy girl!

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6. Mid-Morning Fuel

When I workout in the morning, I typically like to have a small mid-morning snack to keep me going until lunch (which is usually around 1pm).

My fav snacks? Protein-packed hummus, crackers, and veggies or an apple and almond butter or ABU (image above).

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7. Nix the email & Twitter compulsion

Email and social media is a huge time suck for many of us (you too, Grandma!). It’s not practical to say that you shouldn’t check your email in the morning, so what works for me is scheduling a certain amount of time for email at regular intervals. I devote a certain chunk of time to email in the morning and another chunk of time to email in the afternoon. By chunking email this way, I’m able to get a lot more accomplished instead of checking it every 10 minutes and then getting distracted. I used to start my day with email, but now I like to check a couple important things off my list before I even open it.

I’ve also stopped keeping Twitter open during the day. When I take a break, I may open it and spend a few minutes on it, but for the most part I get so much more done when it’s not distracting me!

8. Turn up the Baroque!

Studies show that you are able to concentrate better, relieve stress, block out noise, and improve communication when listening to Baroque music. The key is to listen to music that doesn’t have a beat. This way, it won’t be distracting and will create white noise blocking out all other sounds (like annoying coworkers!). Don’t know where to find it? Try Grooveshark- it’s free and easy to use.

9. Find Your Prime

Figure out when you work best and then schedule your toughest tasks around that time. I am 100% without a doubt, a morning worker. I have my most productive hours between 8am and 1pm. My mind is clear, I’m able to write, and I can crank out a to do list like nobody’s business. My alertness and focus starts to dwindle by mid-afternoon, so I typically reserve my baking/cooking and photography for the afternoon and keep my writing/desk tasks for the morning.

Find out what works for you and plan your day around your body’s cycles!

 

What are your tips for a productive (I just typed ‘reproductive’, whoops!!) morning? Share below!

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{ 127 comments… read them below or add one }

Aine @ Something to Chew Over July 6, 2011

Great tips Angela, I totally agree with you and do all of these things! The most important thing for me is to give myself a designated time for checking my emails (say every hour) instead of constantly checking them. I also respond to them immediately if I can and if I can’t I flag them to deal with at another time.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 6, 2011

ohhh yea, responding immediately is such a great tip. I’ve recently started doing that and it really helps cut them down.

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Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama July 6, 2011

These are great tips. I’m a big list maker, too. There’s nothing better than crossing things off that list!

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Holly @ The Runny Egg July 6, 2011

I agree with your tips — for me it is all about the list. I love crossing things off and I love trying to get as much done as possible. When I don’t make a list I tend to not do anything!

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The Teenage Taste July 6, 2011

I always, always, always have a to-do list with me. It keeps me focused and, in a way, holds me accountable for what I have to do!

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Zestful Lou July 6, 2011

I like to set my clothes out the night before because it’s one less thing to worry about. I also like drinking a big, cool glass of water first thing in the morning because it wakes me up and gives me so much energy!
Lists are a must for me to have a productive day. Without a planned out direction, I will stray from any and every task

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 6, 2011

I also love lemon water first thing in the morning…I need to start that up again!

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Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit July 6, 2011

These are GREAT tips. I totally agree with you on Twitter + email. I love how you’ve just set 45 minutes spread through your day to check emails. My gosh, I must spend SO much time checking email.
I loved seeing the list of things you do in a day, too!

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Cait's Plate July 6, 2011

So many good tips. I try to live by most of what you put here (especially the crossing stuff off lists!) but I’m definitely guilty on the email/twitter front. I really need to start scheduling it like you do. Keeping up with it can suck away so many hours of your day and before you know it, you’ve only been 35% productive! ;)

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Erin D. July 6, 2011

Great post! I love the picture of Sketchie! What a funny expression.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 6, 2011

that’s his ‘you better get up and feed me’ face ;)

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cathy July 6, 2011

great list, angela! i always love hearing people’s productivity tips.
#1 & # 9 ring true: i make a To Do list EVERY DAY but also keep a daytimer/agenda with time blocks for the tasks on the to do list. then i check stuff off as it’s completed. very satisfying to see check marks! and i’m a 100% morning person, too!
i’m interested in trying baroque music as background music – i bet it’s soothing!

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Andrea @ Onion in My Hair July 6, 2011

“Looking for stuff” made me LOL!

I couldn’t help but notice the Huff Post line item on your to-do list. Can you share a little info?!

Ps – Hi Sketchie!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 6, 2011

I was invited to take part in the new Huff Post canada website that just launched, so I hope to be doing some articles/recipes over there soon…time willing!

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Andrea @ Onion in My Hair July 6, 2011

Congrats!

I love the Huff Post, hence why I asked. Be sure to post links when it’s live!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 6, 2011

Will do :)

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Liz @ Tip Top Shape July 6, 2011

Great post! I completely agree with keeping a list. As silly as it sounds, crossing off things really does make you feel accomplished. I’m also most productive in the morning. I’m a goner once the afternoon hits.

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table July 6, 2011

How did you know I needed some motivation to FOCUS today? They don’t call it hump day for nothing! Ugh.

One of my fav tricks is a midday workout. Not long after lunch I start getting antsy and can’t concentrate as well, so I’ll go down to my building’s gym and do some quick weights. When I come back, I feel refreshed and refocused.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 6, 2011

I also love lunchtime workouts…it’s my second fav time to workout.

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Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing July 6, 2011

Great tips! I find that I need to utilize my mornings with the most care, because once afternoon hits, as you mentioned, the slump happens. To-do lists make such a difference — when they’re made realistically, as I learned. Ha :) My problem was always trying to squeeze in “cure cancer” and other big, tangential tasks into my day… Not very possible with everything else going on, but it felt so good to imagine myself getting my Master’s and learning to fly an airplane in one afternoon, while still taking out the trash and doing laundry! ;) Needless to say, my to-do lists have become a little shorter, and more effective.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 6, 2011

LOL!! Yes I get over eager too.

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Kath July 6, 2011

Sitting here, procrastinating my day. Thanks for the kick in the pants with this post!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 6, 2011

hehe :) I cant imagine you procrastinating!!

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat July 6, 2011

Great post Ange!!! I also love keeping lists – when you can cross things off it feels SO good! One of my tips is to get the tasks you don’t want to do out of the way first, because after that, everything else doesn’t seem as bad! One of my problems is trying to squeeze more than I can handle into a day, but I’m slowly working on that one as I realize how absolutely freaking exhausted I am at the end of the work day. Baby steps! :)

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Chrissy (The New Me) July 6, 2011

These are great tips! Now I just need to follow them and actually BE productive.

I love making a list the night before and exercising first thing in the morning. I need to be better about keeping my email and Twitter stream open all day long. It’s such a hard habit to break!

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Ash @ Good Taste Healthy Me July 6, 2011

I love grooveshark! I have it up on my computer all day! I thrive on lists too. That is the best way to stay motivated. At the end of the day when everything is done I feel like a million bucks!

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VeggieGirl July 6, 2011

Thanks for the suggestions! I do fine on work days, but its days off work that I find myself wondering what I did with half my day and WHY didnt I get everything I’d meant to do done! Like this long weekend- I had to make myself a list just to stay on track, and I swear I lost half a morning to getting caught in social media :( I will keep these tips in mind next weekend :)

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Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove July 6, 2011

I use lists all the time – not just when I’m at work. They help me stay on track. Unfortunately, I’m pretty bad about checking my email. There is always a tab in my browser with my email. I wish I could stop the compulsion but it’s also not my main focus so it could be worse.

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Heather (heathers dish) July 6, 2011

Oh yes I need to follow this to the ‘T’! Productivity when working from home is a hard one!

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Mary ( What's Cookin' with Mary) July 6, 2011

My favorite way to be more productive is making lists. There’s something about checking things off a list that makes me want to get to the next task. I love looking at a list that has everything checked off. I agre with you, making a list before bed helps me get to sleep… then I don’t feel like I have to remember everything… I can just relax and rely on my list.

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Kilee July 6, 2011

Angela, these are such great tips! I love the photos that you placed with them too. I agree that social media and email are time vampires. Your to-do list looks giant, but fun!

Have a great day today :)

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Beach Bum Beauty July 6, 2011

I need to lear how to email chunk. I am busy working away and then I get and email which distracts me. I am going to allocate time to emails in the morning and then again in the afternoon and stick to it. And as for twitter, I need to step away from my Blackberry – might hide it in the drawer or something :-)

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Maria July 6, 2011

Great post, Angela! I just started “training” myself to become an early morning workout person, especially since it’s light out now at 6:30am. Yes, it requires training, but it so worth it :)

I work in an office where everyone tends to get in around 9:30am. Because of this, I try to get there before anyone else, so I can ease into my day and minimize interruptions first thing. I also put up sticky notes on my monitor with my favorite quotes. They keep me inspired!

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Madelaine July 6, 2011

Great advice Angela! I have never thought about listening to Baroque for concentration, but I will be giving it a try later today while studying :P

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Ashley July 6, 2011

Great tips Ang!! I definitely find it’s hard to stay on task, especially while working at home. You’re at home, so you feel like you should be getting housework AND work done, plus walking the dogs, shopping, etc. Not easy to find a balance. Loved seeing your tips!

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Lindsey @ Why Just Eat July 6, 2011

I have a productive morning as long as I don’t get sucked into my laptop, reading emails and blogs, checking up on the news, searching for new recipes, updating my blog, etc. Like today!!

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Lauren July 6, 2011

This post will help me so much when I start my third year of college next fall! I like to organize everything by times of the day, say I’ll write a paper from 1-2:30 before taking a break or switching tasks, so I don’t get burned out, and I can keep track of things with the clock!

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Ashley July 6, 2011

What a great post! I am definitely bookmarking this one. The funny thing is, my entire job revolves around using social media all day– so I’m constantly trying to figure out a good way to not be distracted by the tools I have to use for being productive! It’s easy to get lost in it because it’s so fun.
Some things I do to remain productive is to give myself something to look forward to after work. Right now, I decided to start working on a second idea for a book, so I am focused on getting done with work to go and write!
I also start with caffeine in the morning– but I usually start with coffee and have tea in the middle of the day! I think just the smell of coffee helps wake me up.
I love the idea of writing your goals out before bedtime. I used to do my “to-do” list as part of my way to get better sleep, but I have also found that if I have time in the morning I also like to take the time to write out a few easily accomplished goals for the day!
The best part is crossing the stuff off! I agree, I love it:)

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amanda July 6, 2011

Great tips! I did have to laugh though … your list has “caffeine” as the first item, and then you go on to talk about making a list in order of importance. Finally a woman with her priorities straight – caffeine is usually first on my list too! :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 6, 2011

haha glad someone noticed that :) first thing I do in the Am…

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Erica Vore July 6, 2011

I’m most reproductive between the hours of 7-10 pm, lol

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 6, 2011

thats Eric too!

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Carly July 7, 2011

Maybe that was a Freudian slip?!? ;)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 7, 2011

hahah

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Cat @Breakfast to Bed July 6, 2011

I’d have to add, do NOT turn on angry birds. soooo hard not to.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 6, 2011

haha love angry birds, but love the fruit ninja even more!!!

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Karen Beth July 6, 2011

Love your ideas! I’m seriously guilty of the email trap. I have it open all day long, pretty much.

I had been getting up and going for a run / walk (alternating) and thought I was doing so great until my knees gave out. Now they hurt so badly that I can’t even go for a long walk. UGH!

I guess I’m not a runner.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 6, 2011

Ive struggled with knee problems too. My body can only take a certain amount of mileage each week (I thin everyone is different). proper fitting for shoes and some technique training did wonders for me.

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Karen Beth July 6, 2011

Well, I have scoliosis and my legs are different lengths so the pressure I put on my knees when running is worse than it might be otherwise. I might stick to powerful walking.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 6, 2011

Im sorry to hear that Karen! Power walking is a great workout, especially on a crisp summer morning :)

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Amber from Girl with the Red Hair July 6, 2011

Great tips! I have turned off my ‘notifications’ on my outlook email and on my tweetdeck account so that the little notification pop-up doesn’t distract me. I am still really bad for opening them every 10-15 minutes though so that’s something I need to work on.

I LOVE adding easy things to my to-do list and also my workouts for the day. Crossing things off lists is fun :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 6, 2011

it is :) Like eating hehee

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Lindsay @ The Reluctant Runner July 6, 2011

Lists!! I make a list of everything I have to do, and then I make a schedule. I never do one assignment for more than an hour, so even if I’m doing two back to back hours of work, it stays interesting. And breaks are definitely important!

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Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf July 6, 2011

Wow! That’s a lot to do in one day!

I agree about music. I always focus better with music on! Though I’m not sure I agree about the lack of beat being best. I guess it doesn’t really matter to me, as long as it’s what I want to listen to at the moment. When I clean, I tend to play Christmas music. When I’m at work, I listening to whatever Top 40 I feel like. When I cook, I listen to jazz. Makes me far more focused and calm a person. :)

I also try not to over-plan my day. Just a few things to accomplish. Or at least one or two big things with a whole bunch of little, quick tasks. Also making sure I get up at a reasonable time with enough sleep is crucial. If I sleep until 11, I won’t get anything done, but if I get up before 8, I’m draggy all day, regardless of what time I went to bed.

I also split up my day. I take care of stuff out of the house in the morning, take care of stuff in the house in the afternon, and leave evenings free to do whatever strikes my fancy.

At least, this is ideally in a perfect world where I don’t have to work in an office all frickin’ day. So I just described my rare and random weekdays off work.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 6, 2011

im guilty of over planning…need to be more realistic sometimes!

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Emily Malone July 6, 2011

Just realized I am sitting here reading blogs and totally ignoring the list I made 20 minutes ago. Thanks for the reminder! :) I am also most productive in the mornings. I love when my house, is quiet, my email isn’t blowing up quite yet, and my dogs have gone back to bed. So peaceful!

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Hayley @ Oat Couture July 6, 2011

I definitely do lists but i’m gonna try the baroque and see if that helps! I have the concentration of a nat! I also make sure to glug a pint of water as soon as I open my eyes and I also drink hot water with lemon every morning… I definitely feel more awake when doing these two things.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 6, 2011

mm love hot water and lemon!

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Kristin @ Wounded Fawn July 6, 2011

I sometimes work a night job and day job and last night I had to work but I was trying to squeeze in a 2 hour nap before my day job and morning appointment but I locked the cats out of the bedroom because they always wonder why I am still sleeping when there is sunlight and tap my head with their paws to wake me up.

But then I slept through my alarm for an hour, missed my morning appointment and had to move everything in my day around. I will never lock the cats out again! They know their job and they do it well!

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birdie to be July 6, 2011

I am such a list person too… hand written, iphone notes… anything! Great post

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