Blog·SMART Goals

August 18, 2019

How to be effective at work 8 hours a day

Tips and advice on how to be effective at work 8 hours a day. Learn how to own your workday and workweek.

The majority of us are at work 8 hours a day, the 8 hour workday stems from the industrial revolution, and is argued by many to be an outdated and ineffective approach to work, which comes as no surprise as over a century has passed since Britain was taken over by factories and mass production. Despite alternate models being tried, tested, and proven, the 8 hour day is still the norm for the majority of workers. I personally believe this approach is both antiquated and unproductive, but that’s coming from a Gen Z, tech industry, humanities graduate, so I may hold some bias. Nonetheless, for many it’s undeniable that it requires great skill to be able to fully dedicate your concentration for 8 whole hours. So if you are locked into an 8 hour day system, I’ve got a couple of tips you could try out to improve your performance at work:

Effective at Work - how to be effective 8 hours a day

1. Plan your day

  • At the end of the day, spend a couple of minutes thinking about what tasks you need to complete tomorrow, note them down, and put them into order in relation to priority.
  • Most importantly, take the tasks, and schedule them into timeslots for the next day, with the hardest tasks set to be complete at the beginning of the day.
  • Set an alarm for every hour so you can recalibrate and calculate if you have been productive in the last hour and what needs to change for the next hour.
  • Take time off for lunch, your brain needs to cool down, factor that into your schedule.

Effective at Work - plan your day

2. How many breaks to have during the day

  • This is subjective and reliant on the individual, but if you like to follow the generic human biology, the body works in spurts of high energy (roughly an hour) followed by spurts of low energy (15-20 minutes). So after every hour of hard graph you put in, reward yourself with a 15 minute break, ideally not looking at a screen.
  • If you can, take an hours lunch break, get out and about, get the blood flowing through your muscles by undertaking some physical exercise. It’s a sure way to reinvigorate your mind and body.
  • When you are taking any breaks, make sure they are breaks, take yourself into a different environment, away from a screen and connect with something other than work, such as music, or meditation.

Effective at Work - take breaks

3. Switching from one task to another whilst maintaining focus

  • I would advise against multitasking unless you are a seasoned veteran. As my mother always says you’d rather complete 1 job properly, than 2 jobs half-arsed. Or as a more reliable source states, it’s rarely worth it.
  • Champion Monotasking, or more commonly known as “single tasking” which is simply paying attention to, and completing one task at a time. One way to do this as previously mentioned, is to schedule tasks, another way to optimize the effectiveness of transitioning from one task to another is to change locations within the office when you’ve completed a task so you can start fresh with another.

Effective at Work - maintain focus as you switch tasks

4. Tasks to complete at the start of the day

  • Your will power and decision making ability is at its peak in the morning and gets depleted throughout the day therefore, when you have decided on the most important task of the day, get it done first thing in the morning.

Effective at Work - prioritize tasks

5. How to avoid distractions

  • Block online distractions. If you find yourself routinely checking social media or various blogs, consider investing in a distraction-free app. These will block certain websites for a set period of time. Also, if you don’t need to use your phone for work, switch it off and lock it away.
  • Work alongside productive people. Focus is contagious so surround yourself with the best of the best, and keep banter to the minimum whilst you are working.
  • As stated before, schedule your tasks, and include time off to allow for distractions in order to avoid depleting energy.
  • Adopt Deep Work This is a proven method of working that vastly increased your productivity. A fair bit of training is required, but once you commit, you could revolutionize your work patterns.

Effective at Work - avoid distractions

6. How to close your workday

  • Evaluate your task list, make sure you have accomplished as much as you possibly could have done during the time you have been given. Any outstanding tasks, you can include in your schedule for the next day.
  • Review schedule for the next day so that you go in with all the knowledge needed. Set time aside for any tasks not completed today.
  • Reflect on the work you have completed and how you could optimize any work that you have done for future reference. Take pride in the successes of the day.
  • Leave on a positive note. Make an effort to say goodbye to others in the office, and if you can compliment someone before you leave.
  • Don’t take your work home with you. Now it’s time for you to focus on you.

Effective at Work - how to close your work day

There you have it, ideas which you can implement on your workday to increase productivity.

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