Everyone knows the challenge of staying focused, remaining productive, and getting the most out of the working hours. The sudden explosion of remote working opportunities—while popular and highly sought after by workers—has introduced a whole new series of distractions in the working day that were otherwise limited in the office: interruptions by children, pets, family members, unexpected delivery people, phone calls, and social media messages can add up over the course of a day and make the working time far less productive than needed. If you are adjusting to remote work, are distracted by issues in your personal life, are feeling unchallenged, or are just suffering the general malaise that sets in on everyone from time to time, you may need to reexamine your habits so that you can become more productive with your working hours.
Multitasking may seem like a time-saving approach to handling a lot of work, but it can often have the opposite effect. Multitasking requires divided attention, which commonly leads to mistakes that then take more time to fix than if full attention had been devoted to each task singularly. Save the multitasking for simple tasks that are straightforward and whose mistakes are easy to spot and fix. Larger, more complex projects need full attention, and you will ultimately spend less time on them in the long run if you complete each aspect correctly and promptly than if you have to continuously go back and forth refocusing your attention on various things at once.
It can feel very demoralizing to look back on the workday and realize very little was accomplished. You want to have something to show for the time and energy you expend on your work. It can help to set daily goals for yourself in order to stay on track. Creating checklists of tasks with self-imposed deadlines and schedules can help you stay focused on a task to its point of completion and keep you from jumping around on various projects and assignments while accomplishing little.
Getting the most out of your working time often means prioritizing. Not everything can get done at once, so the most important and time-sensitive projects take priority. Important documents and communications should always be proofread and double-checked—either by you or a reliable colleague—to prevent expensive and embarrassing errors from occurring. While double-checking documents does require a time investment, the time spent is not wasted and is far less than the time needed to track those documents down later to fix.
A lot of bookkeeping and administrative tasks can be automated to save time. A small investment in a few of the many cloud-based software programs that organize your accounting, run payroll, send and track invoices, and mail payments for your company can be an enormous time saver that also reduces errors. Utilizing programs that integrate with each other means that financial data can be updated across all systems simultaneously. Make the most productive use of your time by minimizing the more monotonous tasks that can be done automatically so that your time and energy are devoted to the more creative aspects of your job.
Many workers are so dedicated to their jobs that they neglect taking enough time off, and Americans have a habit of leaving unused vacation time on the table. While there will be times when a heavy workload makes a vacation or a break seem impossible, it is important to take time off to recharge. The high numbers of resignations, career changes, and early retirements over the last year, as well as renewed attention to workers' mental health, are proof that burnout can be a real threat to those who are overworked. Maintaining optimal mental and physical health are necessary to working productively, and a positive work/life balance helps improve the quality of both.