Being productive throughout the workday is something that many professionals struggle with, especially those in a high-pressure career like investment banking. Juggling many tasks at once while various deadlines loom can stress us out to the point that we become overwhelmed and burnt out, struggling to accomplish even our most basic responsibilities.
Creating lasting change in our lives when it comes to productivity can be a daunting idea. Doing things the same way day after day and year after year gets us into deep grooves that are tough to get out of. However, adopting minor, manageable new productivity habits throughout your day can go a long way in increasing your overall productivity. Incorporate these good working habits of highly productive people as part of your 2017 resolutions to see your rates of success and accomplishment rise over the course of the coming year.
Plan ahead for your day
Ideally, your day should begin the night before. As you’re getting ready for bed, make a mental (or physical) list of the challenges you’re anticipating for the next day: a high-pressure client meeting, a review with the boss, giving a report. Try to avoid letting yourself feel anxious; simply acknowledge what needs to be done and consider how you can prepare yourself best. Then, get together everything you’ll need for the morning: lay out your clothes, collect a few items you can grab for breakfast or a snack, and get to bed on time. If you often find yourself frazzled and disorganized in the morning, changing habits like this can help you start the day off in a prepared and confident manner.
Take notes throughout the day
Inspiration strikes us when it pleases, not necessarily when it’s convenient for us. Be prepared any time an idea hits you — be it a groundbreaking new course of action or simply a different way of looking at a problem. Instead of taking the risk that you’ll forget, keep a little notebook with you that you can make notes in at all times. There are many apps that can be useful for note-taking, too, although sometimes the simple act of pulling out a notepad and pen can help you get the creative juices flowing and foster all kinds of good working habits.
Enjoy downtime in moderation
At some point, it’s crucial to completely unplug and set aside all thoughts of work to focus on enjoying time with your loved ones, or doing things that help you unwind and relax. It’s important to factor this time into your day and acknowledge when taking it easy will be more helpful to you than continuing to work. However, there are also many ways to keep being productive during your downtime. When you would be doing something meaningless like zoning out in front of the TV or scrolling through social media, consider reading the paper, checking out some blogs, or doing some other activity that won’t feel like work, but could help your mind stay stimulated. Be sure that this doesn’t cut into quality time with your family or treasured hobbies, but simply serves as a replacement for sitting around and wasting time.
Don’t let technology distract you
Staying focused is harder than ever now that we’re surrounded by technology that keeps us constantly connected. If you find yourself getting sidetracked by all the notifications that pop up on your phone screen or smart watch during the day, disable them. If you need to, uninstall the apps that you find distracting so that if you want to check your social media, for example, you’ll need to go to the extra step of sitting at your computer and opening it on your browser. If you find yourself compulsively checking work email at home, set a limit on how often you can check your email — once an hour, once a night — and refuse to check it any more frequently than that. A variety of apps are available to help hold you to these schedules and avoid bad work habits.