If you ask most working women what their biggest concern is when it comes to thriving in their careers or businesses, the answer can usually be summed up in one word: Productivity. With so much on our plates, it can be a challenge to be as productive as we’d like to be. This is especially true considering all the distractions we now customarily have to face on a daily basis, from social media to unnecessary meetings and last-minute to-do’s.
As a working mom, being more productive is like trying to lose those last five pounds from my first baby. It’s this endless race to do as much as feasible in as little time as possible. The only thing is, it ends up being just that, an exhausting, oftentimes unproductive, race. As a result, we end up chasing the elusive badge of honor of “busy-ness” instead of the fulfillment of true productivity.
Rather than this endless busy race we too often find ourselves in, here are 10 hacks for working women to be more productive at work:
- Plan at least a week ahead
This may sound cliché, but the results are anything but. Planning a week ahead allows you to prepare the resources you need to complete whatever task is on your to-do list. Rather than rushing at the last minute, you can give yourself enough time to tackle your to-do list.
- Hack your mornings
Mornings are a sacred and precious time, especially for busy working women who are always on the go. Hack your mornings by getting up earlier and starting your day before the rest of the world, and their associated distractions, gets up. If you’re not a morning person, start by small increments. The point is to get an early and productive head start.
Exercising is one of the most underrated productivity tools. The more physical exercise you practice, the more mental and physical energy you actually have. It may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s actually true. Schedule some time to exercise daily, even if only 20 minutes, and notice how your productivity increases.
Rank your tasks in order of priority. Consult with your manager or team to agree on what needs to be completed first, and focus your efforts there. Don’t squander your time and energy trying to do it all when you can knock off the most impactful items on your list instead. The point is not to do it all, it’s to do it well.
- Eliminate distractions
The biggest obstacles to peak productivity consist of the distractions surrounding us. If you happen to have a smartphone, 99% of these distractions are stored in there. From social media apps to texts from friends and family, there virtually exist a gazillion ways out there to take your focus off of what you’re supposed to do.
The easiest, and by far most effective way to limit these distractions, is to eliminate them. This means deleting these apps from your phone, stopping your notifications, and postponing checking your email, among other ways.
- Control your calendar
Don’t let your calendar control you! Instead of leaving it open and at the mercy of unlimited meeting requests, block off the time you need to tackle your priorities. You don’t need to have a meeting scheduled or some other event to block off your calendar. Instead, use your discretion to keep your calendar off-limits.
- Set a strict limit on meetings
Meetings are one of the biggest time suckers at work. Don’t allow these to reduce your productivity though. Instead, set ruthless time limits on any meeting you attend. Keep them to their allotted time too. Make sure to inform the other meeting participants that you will not be able to stay past the scheduled time. If you see the meeting is lasting longer than scheduled, you may even consider excusing yourself.
- Group your interruptions
Interruptions are almost impossible to avoid at work. To limit their negative influence on your productivity, consider grouping them instead. Ask your team members, reports or even managers, to schedule a time with you when you can go over any open items or questions they may have. This way, you don’t have to be constantly interrupted and waste unnecessary time.
- Delegate and outsource
You can’t do everything. More specifically, you can’t do everything that you’re not particularly good at. Take a look at your schedule and consider delegating and/or outsourcing the tasks or chores that are least impactful and are not aligned with your strengths.
- Schedule breaks
Being productive doesn’t mean working tirelessly and endlessly. Instead, the most productive people are also those who periodically stop and take breaks. To ensure that you don’t skip on your breaks, schedule them in your calendar.