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Helpful Ways to Improve Efficiency and Productivity

Productivity and efficiency are things individuals strive for in both their work and home environments. It’s frequently thought that the more productive you are the more successful you’ll be. Or the more productive you are the more leisure time you’ll be able to have at the end of the day. It can be frustrating when others are seemingly more productive than we are despite what we feel are our best efforts to stay on task and make progress. Being productive and efficient is difficult enough in a normal world. However, in today’s work from home environment with a constant stream of, mostly negative, news it makes it even more difficult to stay on task, stay focused, and function at the level we which to achieve. I urge you to be kind to yourself throughout this time period acknowledging that it takes more energy to focus now than it did prior to the pandemic. I also urge you to question your motives behind wanting to increase your productivity and efficiency. Frequently, if we don’t take the time to pause and check in with ourselves, we are setting ourselves up for burnout. Maintaining a healthy level of productivity and efficiency and not an obsessive all-consuming mindset is crucial. Below are six healthy habits that can help us to begin increasing our productivity and efficiency in a way that is beneficial, not detrimental. 

While it may be tempting to hit the snooze button to get in a couple extra minutes of sleep before waking up, it’s actually counterproductive to our energy levels the rest of the day. Most of the latter part of our sleep cycle includes REM sleep, a restorative sleep state. When this state is interrupted simply to fall back to sleep again, it’s disruptive of this sleep cycle. If you’re able to wake up without hitting the snooze button you’ll have more energy, have lower stress levels and an increased ability to focus throughout the day. 

In addition to getting out of bed without hitting the snooze button, starting your day off positively has a huge impact on productivity. Waking up 20 minutes before you have to rush out the door is counterproductive to having a successful rest of the day. Instead, spend time cultivating a morning routine that brings you joy and a sense of calm. This could be going for a walk, stretching, meditation, reading, etc. 

Focusing on more than one thing at a time can seem like an effective way to accomplish more than one thing at the same time but it typically results in the exact opposite. Multitasking or juggling multiple things at once leads to stress. Focusing on one task at a time allows the work to be done more efficiently. 

If you haven’t heard of “time batching” it may be a helpful tool to improve productivity. Batching refers to grouping similar activities together to create a more cohesive flow to your workday instead of jumping from task to task. Once you’ve grouped together tasks the fit nicely, create an order in which you approach them. It’s helpful to begin the day with an easier task such as reading/responding to emails and then starting to work on the bigger tasks once you’re warmed up and awake. Ending the day by organizing your desk, writing a to-do list for the next day or responding to last minute emails is a great way to set yourself up for a restful evening and positive next morning. 

Listening is a skill most of us don’t practice quite enough. Active listening doesn’t include listening to respond but instead listening to understand. Giving the individual your full attention and asking follow-up questions can be largely helpful in the success of what you’re working on as well as building strong and trusting relationships with coworkers. In addition to listening to your colleagues, it’s also important to listen to yourself. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, or uncomfortable, you’re within your right to turn down work, delegate tasks, cancel meetings, or ending a relationship with a disrespectful client. You know yourself best and a big key to success is listening to yourself. 

The last tip I’ll leave you with is incorporating an end of the day ritual into your workday. Self-care can be defined as doing something today your future self will thank you for. This may look like cleaning your office space, creating a to do list, shutting down your computer, responding to last minute emails and taking a moment to reflect on what you accomplished that day. By doing this, you’re able to successful transition from the workday to a restful evening.

If you’ve found yourself struggling with productivity throughout the covid-19 pandemic, it may be useful to try counseling. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!

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