The 4-Hour Work Week is more than a monster bestseller. It’s become a religion for some. #DoLessLaw is a thing. “Work smarter, not harder” is a meme. Mindfulness at work has become a movement. What do they all have in comment? None is achieved without becoming more organized and focused at work. Here are a few tips to do just that.
Plan your work-day in advance – Make a list of the next day’s core tasks after you’re done with work for the day or later that night. This will allow you to get your day off to a super productive start without dwadlling on Facebook and Twitter. It’s much easier to get distracted when you don’t have tasks written down and a plan in place. And, you’ll be the most prepared member of your team during morning stand-up meetings.
Schedule time to check email – Turn off email push notifications and check it only two or three times a day. Don’t check it until you’ve completed your first major task of the day. Answer your emails and organize your inbox and folders during these times and log out when you’re done. While you’re at it, turn off notifications for everything on your phone and computer except calendar appointments. Manually check for email, social media updates, etc.
Don’t multi-task – Switching tasks slows you down. It takes time to get back to the productive zone you were in prior to switching. Complete the task at hand before moving on to the next.
Focus using the Pomodoro Technique – We’re huge advocates of the tomato timer. Remove distractions and focus on each task for a set number of minutes. The Pomodoro Technique suggests 25 minute increments followed by two-minute breaks. See: What is the Pomodoro Technique and How Can it Help Me?
Focus with meditation – This isn’t for everyone (disclosure: it’s never stuck with me), but meditation has many converts and evangelizers. Give it a shot to see if it works for you. Not sure where to start? Follow guided meditations with the Insight Timer app (recommended by Jeena Cho, author of The Anxious Lawyer: An 8-Week Guide to a Happier, Saner Law Practice Using Meditation.)
Take breaks – Breaking up your day into quantifiable tasks is important. Taking breaks between tasks is just as important. Without breaks, laser focus is almost impossible, creativity and concentration suffers and tasks take longer to complete. If you work remotely, don’t roll out of bed and into your desk chair. Wake up 30 minutes earlier and go for a walk before you start working. Do the same at lunch and after you shut down. This one practice has made a huge difference in my productivity, stress, and fitness.