Hints for a more productive, stress-free work day

Is your productivity at work suffering because you're too stressed? Remember, how you begin your work day sets the tone for the rest of the day. Here are some tips to help get you off to a good start and keep your positive energy going until it's time to head home.

Hints for a more productive, stress-free work day

Do the tough work early

Most people are at their freshest and most productive at the beginning of the day.

  • A drawn-out morning routine can take that positive edge off, so jump into the important work quickly and read the non-essential emails only after you've covered some ground.

Write to-do lists

Writing a bunch of lists may appear time consuming, but it can have quite the opposite effect by "creating" time you didn't know you had.

  • The first list should contain everything you need to get done ASAP. The second one should be what you can get done today – and today only. Factor in the disruptions, meetings and phone calls.
  • Print the lists out on brightly coloured paper so they won't get lost on your desk.

Prioritizing your work greatly increases the chances that you will be satisfied with your day's accomplishments.

Assess the challenges

Make an inventory of boring meetings, challenging customers and other mental obstacles you're likely to face. Then, prepare to get yourself through them without frustration or impatience.

  • It's usually not work that gets you down, but rather the challenges that lie along the way.

Listing the perceived barriers to "having a good day" often gives them less influence over the day's outcome.

Visualize your day

You literally want to imagine what success looks like for you in your mind's eye.

  • Start each day by closing your eyes for a minute and visualizing how you want it to go.
  • See yourself making a stellar presentation at the board meeting.
  • Experience the great feeling when you finally get that report off your desk.

Visualization is a technique used by world-class athletes during training and before a big event. If it works for them, it'll also work for you.

Schedule social time

You probably work with people whom you like and know well. In fact, camaraderie is what makes many jobs great.

  • Build a ritual into each morning where you spend a few moments of social time with colleagues. Make it short, but don't let a day go by without it.

Allocate time to read

Give yourself 15 minutes or so to review newspapers, blogs, newsfeeds, online forums, industry publications and other reading sources that relate to your job. Don't forget – this is not the time to do online shopping!

  • Being up to date with business has many advantages, including a sense of control about your situation. It also affords you with a justifiable change of pace that can help to revitalize your day's energy.

Set your alarm

It's easy to get swept up by the momentum of the day and forget to take a break. Set an alarm on your watch, phone, tablet or computer.

  • This will be your signal throughout the day to take a break, stretch and walk around the building.
  • In an open-plan office, keep your smartphone on vibrate so you won't disturb co-workers.

Make the most of your voicemail

You can use your voicemail to help improve your efficiency at work.

  • Change your message frequently so that people don't miss you or disturb you when you're busy.
  • Your phone system may even allow you to leave a voicemail for one person if you know that someone is calling for specific information.
  • Likewise, you can set any instant messaging systems to show you as "Away" or "Do Not Disturb", which is helpful if you want uninterrupted time at your desk.

Have a cup of cocoa

Research has shown that cocoa can help to increase blood flow in the brain, hands and legs, as well as possibly regulate blood pressure.

  • Take a minute and enjoy a steaming, comforting hot cup of cocoa. Make an extra cup, if you can, and offer it to a favourite colleague. Choose pure cocoa to get the full effect.

Arrive before everyone else

That precious calm time – before the emails, phone calls and problems start pouring in – is worth everything in terms of what you can accomplish during the day.

  • Getting a jump-start on everyone else gives you a feeling of accomplishment even before the day has begun.

Save a compliment

Print a compliment you may have received from a colleague or boss. Then, tape it inside your top drawer.

  • When you're feeling down, take a peek at it to remind you of what others truly think of your abilities.
  • Don't forget to also offer a compliment to someone who deserves it. Kindness is a two-way street.

Keep plants at work

Studies have found that live plants can help increase creative thinking, lower workplace stress and enhance productivity – possibly because they release extra oxygen and clean the air.

  • A pop of greenery on your desk can add colour, vibrance and personality to an otherwise dull office environment.

At end of day

Make this your transition time from work to home, but don't overdo it.

  • Finish answering any emails, update your to-do list for the next day and tidy up your desk. Then, head home.
The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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