How to be more productive at work

Think of your workday as a series of shorter sprints, not a marathon.

If you do any of your work on a computer you know how easy it is to get distracted. Email, news articles, helpful how-to posts, ongoing Twitter conversations, and persistent phone notifications are all out to sabotage your workday.

Sure you spend eight hours at work, but what do you really accomplish when you're distracted every three minutes ?

Tony Schwartz consults companies like Google, Facebook, and Coca-Cola on how they can get the most out of their workforce, but not by pushing them to their peak for eight hours a day. As Schwartz argues in The New York Times:

[I]t’s better to work highly focused for short periods of time, with breaks in between, than to be partially focused for long periods of time. Think of it as a sprint, rather than a marathon. You can push yourself to your limits for short periods of time, so long as you have a clear stopping point. And after a rest, you can sprint again.

Schwartz's tip for having a highly-productive day? Try spending the first 90 minutes of your day on the most challenging or difficult project. That means no checking email on your phone before you get out of bed, just 90 minutes to tackle that task which would otherwise be hanging over your head throughout the workday. Then, take a break, do some jumping jacks to make up for the fact that you weren't actually sprinting, check Twitter or whatever you need to do to refresh, and then do it all over again.

Now that you've had your break, give the sprint theory a test run and report back.

Faced With Overload, a Need to Find Focus [New York Times]

Photo: Flickr/veo_

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