What’s the recipe for the perfect workday? Frankly, even if you know, you could be none the wiser about how to source the required ingredients, so to say. After all, it’s not necessarily a given that you love your job – or, even if you do, that you always find it plain sailing.
In theory, just dialling up your productivity and wringing as much potential as possible out of every workday should leave you thoroughly satisfied with your efforts. However, what if you keep tiring, or there simply never seem to be “enough hours in the day”? Make sure you’re ticking these boxes…
As a general rule of thumb, dedicate each day to just one big thing, three medium things and five small things – or less than five if you’ve got plenty of meetings lined up. The trick is to primarily pour your efforts into high-reward tasks that will generate the biggest results.
Leaving out unnecessary tasks
Knowing what you should be doing also entails knowing what you shouldn’t be doing. That can start with assessing how many decisions you need to make. Perhaps you could stick with the same work uniform and the same choice of lunch day after day, cutting down on your decision-making time.
Similarly, you might be able to jettison certain meetings, or at least your attendance at them, if they seem redundant upon closer inspection. Once you’ve trimmed the to-do list, be careful not to multitask with what’s still on it; it’d be more efficient to focus on just one task after another.
Exercise – yes, during the workday!
While getting an extra hour of sleep can leave a lasting impact on how you work, there’s an obvious time for you to get that extra hour in; the same can’t always be said of getting more exercise. However, it’s possible to squeeze it into a workday – you might only need fifteen minutes.
Spending that time cycling moderately intensely on a stationary bike would bring “immediate benefits” for cognition, suggests one 2013 study mentioned by the BBC. Perhaps your boss could place exercise equipment onsite, or let you access fitness experts through LifeWorks.
Breaks – taken at the right times
How often should you take a break? According to research highlighted by Fast Company, the magic number is every 52 minutes. The researchers found, after analysing 5.5 million daily records about office workers’ computer use, that the top 10% of productive workers stuck to this figure.
Those same workers would then take a 17-minute break, allowing them to keep cognitive boredom at bay. Besides, if you know that a break is coming up, you will be likelier to maintain your focus and work more purposefully.