Have you ever felt as though you’re good at what you do, but could do even more, even better? Self-improvement is all about forming positive habits. If you’re looking to improve both the quality and quantity of your work every day, the following habits might be just what you’re looking for.
1. Make a Daily To do List
On the surface, this might seem like a waste of valuable time. Why make a list of what you have to do when you could just start working right away? It’s better to start your day off as prepared and organized as possible, just in case something spontaneous comes across your desk or you have so much to do you’re afraid you’re going to forget about something.
It helps to have your daily tasks written out all in one place. That way, you can spend less time double-checking to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and more time actually getting things done.
2. Prioritize your Tasks
When you have a lot to do, it might be tempting to save the toughest tasks for last. What’s most important though, if you want to produce as much of the highest quality work you can, is that you do what is most important first and save the less important tasks for last.
Do you have a deadline coming up at the end of the week? Put that higher on your to-do list than that proposal you have due at the end of the month. Sure, working on that deadline might be the tougher of the two, but once you start, you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll be able to get done in one sitting.
3. Don’t Start your Day off with Screen Time
When you first wake up in the morning, it might be tempting to check your text messages and catch up on everything you missed on Twitter while you were sleeping. What else are you supposed to do while the coffee’s brewing, right?
You’ll actually be much more productive in the first hour or so of your day if you restrict your screen time until after breakfast. You can use that time to make and prioritize your to-do list or do a few chores before work to save time later. Otherwise, you’ll probably spend more time than you need to scrolling through your social network feeds, not really accomplishing anything.
4. Break Big Projects into Smaller Pieces
We often end up putting off bigger projects because, at a glance, they just seem like too much to do all at once. The thing is, there’s no law that says you have to do it all in one day. To improve the quality and efficiency of your work, break large tasks into smaller pieces so you can conquer them a little at a time.
When looking at that deadline at the end of the week, work out, in your head or on paper, how much you need to get done every day this week in order to finish with a little time to spare. Can you do a little research today, make a few phone calls tomorrow and finish the rest in the remaining three days? Take it one piece at a time and you’ll get it done with much less stress.
5. Work when You’re usually Most Productive
Everyone has their own optimal productivity time frame. It’s that window of time in your day when you usually accomplish the most, either at work or at home or both. Some people truly are “early birds,” and some are tried and true “night owls.” You might have more than one, such as the time between breakfast and lunch and between dinner and when you usually go to sleep.
To improve how much you can get done and how efficiently you can do it, get into the habit of doing the bulk of your work during your optimal productivity time frame. Save that YouTube video or Buzzfeed article for later and, while you’re in the zone, accomplish what’s on your to-do list before time runs out.
6. Take a Break when You’re typically Least Productive
Trying to force yourself to do work when you’re “just not in it” can actually be counter-productive. You might end up opening that email, intending to reply, but spend 20 minutes procrastinating instead, just because you don’t want to do that one task right now.
Unless it absolutely needs to be done today, don’t force it. Let yourself relax for a little while. You might even find that, after an hour of a relaxing activity like watching a T.V. show or going for a walk, you’re actually ready and motivated to go answer that email after all.
These habits will change the way you work. Try out a few of them this week and see how they work for you.