Practical and workable techniques to help you get more done at work.
Currently, a scandinavian study noted that workers who logged a six-hour workday in place of an eight-hour workday have been happier, more healthy and greater lively. They took 4.7% fewer unwell days and cut down on work absence.
That sounds great, in theory—but can you still get as much done in six hours as you can in eight? If you could work a shorter day and get the same amount accomplished, would you?
Here are some strategies for finding more time in your workday:
1. Focus on one task at a time .
Research has shown that trying to multitask hurts your productivity, because your attention is divided and you actually lose time on both tasks. Finish one thing before you move on to another. Don’t take breaks every five minutes to check Facebook.
2. Track your time.
Much like keeping a food journal, tracking how you’re spending your hours can make you more mindful and purposeful about what you’re doing during the day. It’s a little tedious, but the end result is worth it when you realize you’re wasting 60 minutes a day on social media. Websites such as Toggl or RescueTime can help, or you can keep a paper record.
3. Try the Pomodoro technique .
If you’re having trouble focusing, set a timer for 25 minutes and work until it goes off. Take a five-minute break, then go again. After four 25-minute blocks, take a longer break of 15 to 20 minutes.
Practitioners of this method believe it helps them buckle down and avoid distractions because they know a break is coming. To give it a go, try one of the many Pomodoro timer apps that now exist.
4. Take breaks
Even if you aren’t trying the Pomodoro method, it’s worth noting that taking breaks from a task boosts your ability to keep working on that task, according to a study in the journal Cognition. When you feel your attention flagging, take a walk. Get some coffee. Stretch. And then get back to work.
5. Use flexibility to your advantage .
In another study, employees who worked from home were more productive than their in-office coworkers, likely due to lack of a commute and fewer distractions. If you find that you’re constantly sidetracked in the office by chatty coworkers or the noisy cube culture, ask whether you can work remotely one day a week or when you have a big deadline.
6. Play some music.
People are faster and more accurate at job tasks when they’re listening to music, according to a study by Mindlab International. Electronic dance music got the best results, but if that’s not your thing, play whatever suits your work environment.
7. Schedule your email checks.
Interrupting a task to check email every 10 minutes has consequences: Research shows it can take people up to 20 minutes to get back on track after an interruption. If you can, check and respond to email at predetermined times of day—when you get to the office, lunchtime, and before you leave, for instance.
If your job requires more frequent checking, try to do it mindfully—at the top of every hour, for instance, rather than every time your inbox dings. Turn off visual and audible reminders for new messages to keep you from being tempted.
Credit: This article wasoriginally published in Forbes by Kate Ashford.