Productivity Hacks – brought to you by Microsoft
Your job is your livelihood, but no matter how passionate you are about it – it’s important that’s not your life. Here are some Microsoft-bred tips on how to make the most out of your work day, and keep your mind right outside the office.
Set daily goals
We’re in the era of a constant to-do list. Long term. Short term. At work. At home. But staring at 87 bullet points of things you need to accomplish isn’t going to give you anything more than a headache. But if you prioritize those 87 things, you’ll be in much better shape.
Find out what can wait – but don’t be lazy about it! If you can get it done within 20 minutes, do it that day. Long term project? Find a PIECE that can get done today. Lots to do at home? Again – the 20 minute goal is a good one. Often times we don’t realize a lot of the things we have to do may only actually take 10 minutes.
If you map things out this way, you’ll actually be able to cross things off your list, instead of having them hang over your head.
Set deadlines and hold yourself accountable
This goes hand-in-hand with point one. This one focuses more on the execution of conquering your to-do list – and it’s a bit more solely work-related.
Microsoft has a tool to be your built-in-accountability holder: Microsoft Project. It allows you to maintain a calendar with multiple moving parts. It also lets you assign deadlines to projects, meetings and tasks – so you’re notified when you’re getting off track.
Take time to save time
Data entry. Standardized emails. Both essentially synonyms for “tedious” and “*groans*” for those who do this manually. But you can actually streamline this process. It’ll take time to set up initially – but it will save you time in the future.
If you’re entering data into multiple spreadsheets, set up macros that can do that work for you. Macros can also help automate email responses.
Batch your small tasks
This one is great when it comes to making sure your day has a productive flow. Think about the things you do throughout your work day – i.e. sending emails, scheduling meeting, updating your website, etc. These things inherently don’t take a lot of time, but if you stretch them out while doing more long-winded products, they might. So instead, set aside a chunk of time to get them all done at once.
Separation of home and office
Nowadays, far easier said than done. But it’s essential. And it prevents burnout. According to multiple studies, you need some sort of down time every day to keep your mind right. Work will likely take up most of your day (especially for those of you reading this), and that’s OK. And it’s great that you’re so connected to what you do. But give that connectivity a time limit. When you’re home with your family, be with your family. Working out before work? Be present in your workout. On vacation? Put all your devices on “Do Not Disturb.” Giving your mind a clear break = more clarity when you get back into work mode.
Only say “yes” to meetings that matter
Aiii, what? Don’t all meetings matter? No. If it’s not organized well or does not have a clear purpose – you don’t have time for it! Make sure you know exactly why you’re included in a meeting before you attend, so you can ensure you’re not wasting your time.
Regarding meetings in general, best practices say make sure there’s a “hard” stop time, and ensure everyone is prepared with a specific agenda before you get started.
Take workout breaks
Physical activity = more productivity! It doesn’t have to be crazy, we know you don’t have time to go take a spin class/shower/change your clothes during your lunch break. But if your office is flexible enough and you have the resources, take a short run or get some cardio in during the day. Still unrealistic? A walk outside. Live somewhere to cold? Be sure to get up and walk around the office.