Thirteen years of being an athlete has taught me many lessons. From simply creating a goal, and learning how to accomplish it, to learning how to work with all types of people, I am realizing each day how much it pertains to the corporate environment. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned during my time as an athlete is the lesson on productivity and organization. By starting my sport at the young age of nine, I grew up with constant practices, school, and other activities I was a part of. I quickly learned how to balance my time and accomplish my “To Do” lists in order to get things done.
Here are some of the key points I’ve learned on how to stay organized and productive and how to bring it into your work environment:
1. Create a goal and keep it in mind every day. It’s hard to stay motivated when you don’t have a reason to. What is your goal for that day, week, or month? What role do you play within your company? Answer these questions and keep them in mind each and every day. If you need to, post your goal at your desk so that you can see it all the time.
2. Make a list. It’s simple. Make a “To-do” list of what you need to get done each day.
3. Organize your computer folders. No one likes a messy work environment. This also goes for your computer. Clean up the folders on your computer to keep you organized. It will save time from trying to find various documents within your work space.
4. Write it down. Keep a planner for your work and personal life. This can be electronically or by pen and paper. Write down your schedule and “To-do” list for your work and personal life instead of trying to keep up with your life in your head.
5. Take a lunch break. No matter how much work you need to do, take a lunch break. This will clear your mind and keep you more efficient throughout the rest of the day. If you really have too much to do, at the least take a 20 minute lunch break.
6. Split up your day for various projects. When you have various projects to work on, schedule your day to spend time on each of those projects. Spend a couple of hours on one project and a couple of hours on another depending on your deadline and how much time you need. Stick to this schedule. I’ve found that the less time I have to do something, the more productive I am during that time.
7. Decorate your desk. Sounds silly? Research shows that decorating and adding color to your work space has a direct effect on productivity. It makes employees happier and healthier according to Meredith Wells, Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Workplace Innovation.
8. Have a due date for projects then organize tasks according to that project’s due date. We all have deadlines for projects. Make a list of tasks for that project, then schedule those tasks each day until your deadline. This will ensure your deadline completion.
9. Categorize emails from highest priority to lowest priority. Most of you many emails a day which makes it hard keep up with all of them. When your emails come in, choose whether or not it needs immediate attention or whether or not it can wait. If it needs immediate attention, open it right away and respond. If not, categorize them from higher priority to lower priority. Your email outlet should have categorizing options. You can do this by color coding your emails.
10. Exercise. If you’re not much of a fitness expert or don’t like going to the gym, all you need is some light exercise per day. This clears the mind and releases endorphins which keeps you happier and more productive. Take a walk on your lunch break or get into something you look forward to at the end of your work day such as yoga or Pilates.
11. Figure out what keeps you focused. For me, listening to music keeps me focused on what I am working on. It helps me tune out everything else and focused on the task at hand. For you, this may be different. Figure out what it is that keeps you focused. It could mean you need it completely silent or you need the news on in the office. Whatever it is, do it.