Getting Excited About the Outcome: Make the Most of Every Work Day (Like It’s Your Job to Do So!)
Are you feeling excited about the outcome or insecure about your work day ahead? When it comes to your career, productivity is paramount. What fuels your efficiency on the job? What pushes you to do your best on any given day of the week? Whether your motivation is lacking on a Monday, or your ambition is winding down on a Wednesday, we’ve got your cheat sheet for workplace success!
You should start every week and every day with an important ritual. Here’s a downloadable Word file of our recommended Weekly Planning Ritual.
Start Every Single Day With a Morning Ritual
What the mind thinks, the body will respond to. Do you have any noticeable patterns of inefficiency at work? For example, if you start off strong every Monday morning, but lose the ‘wind in your sail’ by Wednesday afternoon, a shift in your daily schedule may be all you need. Anything has the ability to distract you and cause discouragement at work: a miscommunication with your client, gridlock traffic, an argument with a loved one from the night before, or an urgent project that seems impossible to complete on time.
No matter how many tasks may be on your plate, productivity is possible with the right mindset.
Become more efficient at work by starting your day with a morning ritual. Can it be done when all you really want to do is hit the snooze button? Of course—but it takes discipline, and the commitment to develop a new habit. A morning ritual allows you to set your mind up for a productive work day, while giving you an energizing, optimistic outlook for your agenda ahead.
What relaxes you? What activities give you that much needed ‘me time’ that you deserve? What helps you achieve your professional goals? A morning routine—one in which allows you to become motivated and excited for what lies ahead—is crucial. It’s what sets ordinary people apart from exceptional ones.
It’s what you need to cultivate a ‘Monday through Friday’ code of excellence.
Think of two things that you need to be mentally and physically healthy. Is it having it enough time to eat and prepare a superfood breakfast (to fuel the inner super hero in you?) Is it having downtime to read the newspaper, meditate, or start your day running on the treadmill at the gym? Is it having some time for reflection and introspection, and being able to write your thoughts down on paper (to unclutter your busy mind?)
Whatever makes you feel restored and rejuvenated, make that part of your morning routine. Pick one physical activity and one mental activity that you can do every single morning. A physical activity can be anything that allows your body to move, stretch and boost brain power! Take an early morning yoga class, or encourage your neighbor to join you in a daily jog around the neighborhood.
Now that your body is primed and ready for success, what activity can you commit to that will set your mind up for a full day ahead?
You worked hard to get to where you are, and owe it to yourself to strive to be better each and every day. However, that initiative and desire to be your very best has to come from somewhere. While your physical body will go through the motions (sending emails, organizing files, etc.), it’s your mental strength that’s responsible for keeping the momentum going.
Any morning activity that fuels your excitement and desire to put forth your best effort on the job will work: writing down accomplishments from the previous week (this works as a great motivator to keep the trend going!); mantra meditation (in which you inhale and exhale deeply while repeating a meaningful word or phrase), or creative visualizations.
Create a morning of success. When you do, the events of your day will be successful, as well.
Create a ‘Career of Intention’ by Daydreaming
Here’s another mental tool for achieving workplace efficiency every day of the week: be productive before you even arrive at the office.
Whoever said daydreaming wouldn’t get you anywhere, must not have known the right way to daydream.
Visualizing, also known as daydreaming or imagining with intention, is one of the best ways to create a career with intention. Leverage your already-in-place active imagination by creating a movie of your life in your mind. Think about the events of your busy day that lie ahead. Imagine each one: your morning brainstorming meeting with your boss, spreadsheets you have to create, and emails you need to send.
Imagine in your mind that a movie is playing, and each scene is a different event in your day. But here’s the kicker: you’re not only the lead actor, but you’re the director, too. You get to decide how that meeting, that spreadsheet, those emails and the overall flow of your day will go. Be creative. Think about the impossible and make it possible in your mind. How will you handle that high pressure meeting in which you have to come up with a winning idea? Imagine creativity pouring out of you, and being congratulated by your boss on your thoughtful pitch. Achieve the day you want to have by creating it in your mind, first.
Organize Your Desk, Clear Your Mind
How focused can you really be with a messy desk to work from?
How efficiently can you write, design and create when stacks of papers, and cluttered space is distracting you from your task at hand? Juggling several deadlines at once means that you need a clear, concise and diligent thought process. How can you make the most of your work day when you can’t locate your desk calendar, or find your stapler?
A study showed that an office worker spends 1.5 hours per day looking for misplaced items on their desk. That equals to a lot of ‘search and rescue time’—time that you don’t have to waste! Increase your alertness and focus by giving everything on your desk a place. Folders that need to be revised (but are flagged for next week) can be placed in your overhead cabinet and out of eye’s view. Organize your office accessories (stapler, paper clips, pens, scissors) so they are easily accessible.
Lend a Hand to Your Fellow Workers (Just Not Too Many!)
Being a team player is one of the many reasons you are valued by your employer. You treat your colleagues with respect, go above and beyond in your daily work life, and are always willing to lend a helping hand to your cubicle buddy. The trick is, remembering how many hands you’ve got left.
Feeling frustrated that there aren’t enough hours in the day to cross all the ‘to do’s’ off of your list?
If so, it may be time to assess where you are putting your time and energy. Helping your co-worker troubleshoot an IT problem (which takes just minutes) is one thing, but getting backlogged with your own deadlines and responsibilities because you’re helping a colleague meet theirs, is quite another.
If you want to maximize your efficiency at work, give selfishness a shot.
Call it the ‘selfish starter’, and here’s how it works: No one is responsible for the work that you do, so do it well. Focus on what you are being held accountable for, and do it with all the energy and intention you can. Monitor your time (keeping track of the days and hours you have left until your deadline.)
Create a to-do list (read below for tips on how to create the ultimate list) and cross off tasks as you complete them. Stay on track and maximize your productivity level by doing your own work first. Commit to a ‘selfish starter’ work motto for yourself, to prevent other’s needs from affecting your own efficiency in the workplace.
When the time is up and you’ve once again met your deadline (with flying colors!), give a hand to another in need. After all, it’s one of the many traits that make you the devoted, well liked employee that you are. Shine on, star that you are—because the more you give back, the more you receive in return.
Creating the Ultimate ‘To-Do’ List (It’s an Art)
Creating the ultimate ‘to do’ list isn’t just a requirement for increased efficiency on the job—it’s an art form. Are you half in, half out? Do you sporadically compile notes, reminders and thoughts down throughout your day, but forget to mark them off as complete or fail to complete them at all?
Creating a daily to-do list holds you accountable, and gives you a sense of accomplishment when you meet your goals. Most people make the mistake of taking a minute or two to jot down deadlines they must meet before the day’s end. There are two types of to-do lists: one that is done quickly (but slightly scattered and incomplete), and one that is thoughtful and deliberate.
Set yourself apart from the pack.
Create the ultimate to-do list by writing down all tasks that you need to accomplish by the end of the day. Divide a piece of paper into two columns. On the left side, write down the most challenging projects that lie ahead: a new concept you have to pitch for your most important client, a conference call with your boss, or a special project you need to knock out. On the right side of your to-do list, jot down every small task (mini-tasks) that are easier to complete: going on a coffee run for your digital marketing team, posting an ad in the paper for a new accountant, sending ‘thank you’ emails to your team for their hard work and devotion.
With a completed ‘to-do’ list in front of you, which task will be the most challenging? Here’s a tip from the pros: begin with your toughest task first. Start your morning by staring fear in the face (discuss a miscommunication you’ve had with a co-worker, for example) and handle the rest of your day with confidence and enthusiasm!
The gutsy, self-assured worker that you are can tackle every meeting, deadline and time sensitive project ahead with a solution-oriented mind. Cross each task off as you complete it—that way, you’ll maintain a sense of accomplishment and develop the momentum to continue the trend.
Limit Social Media, Emails and Colleague Chatter
When it’s crunch time, all distractions must come to a close.
The internal chatter must stop (there’s no room for doubt in the workplace.) The chit-chat with co-workers can resume after you’ve met your deadline. And, social media (Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) has no place during the most important part of your day—crunch time!
One of the biggest forms of distraction in a work day is social media. If all you’re doing is taking a look at your news feed once every thirty minutes for a split second, you’ve done it—you’ve distracted yourself from your ‘flow.’ Think you’re progressing on your project by being ‘in the zone?’ Think again when you check Twitter, or quickly glance at the most ‘pinned’ Pinterest recipes. When you engage with social media throughout your work day, you lose focus, and misplace your train of thought. Crunch time leaves no room for distraction, so allow yourself carved out time for social media during your lunch hour—your rate of efficiency is dependent on it.
Develop a Plan of Attack (and Reward Yourself When You’ve Met Your Goal)
When you’re productive in the workplace, you’re unstoppable. You’re determined. You’re a ‘wizard’ at whatever you do, because no one else can do it as well as you can, in the way that you can. When you maximize your efficiency in the workplace, the question you need to ask yourself isn’t, “How am I going to tackle this project, this assignment, this creative endeavor?” The question should be, “How am I going to keep my momentum going? How am I going to continue making the most of every work day?”
The secret lies in the strategy: reward yourself for a job well done.
What type of reward system works best for you? Is it a smaller, more frequent treat such as a Friday night dinner at your favorite restaurant, or a less frequent (but bigger indulgence) such as a one hour massage at the end of every month? However you work best (one which will fuel your motivation to maintain efficiency on the job), it’s important to develop a plan of attack. Not every day is going to be perfect. You may even have ‘a case of the Mondays’ from time to time. The goal isn’t to be perfect, but to push through those moments of imperfection and frustration, in order to get to the other side.
What’s on the ‘other side?’ A stronger, more disciplined, and prideful you—one that becomes more skilled in your craft, experienced in your approach and pushes through all limits and boundaries with confidence.
When you make efficiency a habit, every goal—professionally or personally—can be reached. By insisting on living a productive life, you’ll always do your best. You’ll always be your best. You’ll always achieve the outcome you desire, and make the most of every work day (as though it’s your job to do so.)