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In a world of constant distractions and interruptions, efficiency and focus are a great challenge. Mutli-tasking has long been considered a great asset. The ability to answer a phone, draft a report, and maintain a schedule is a desirable skill-set in a busy office. But in this Information Age the number of distractions is overwhelming. Office phone, email, co-worker questions, mobile phone calls, instant messages from numerous social platforms, and schedules to manage for your customers, employees, family and vendors.

First and foremost, a productive day will begin with a schedule. Separate activities, setting aside different time blocks for projects, communications and interactions. Project time should be pre-arranged so those around you understand not to transfer calls or interrupt. Communication time can be dedicated to responding to email, interacting on social media, or returning calls. Interactions will allow for face-to-face time with co-workers and customers. Build a schedule that can be repetitive, so those around you can know what to expect.

The greatest challenge of shifting between activities is refocusing the mind. This transition can be learned, and will help in improving efficiency.  Implement these 8 tips into your day, and notice how much faster your tasks will be completed.

  1. Commit the first 15 minutes of a project as criticism free. Don’t question the choices you make or the direction you choose. Allow creativity to flow.
  2. Within 15 minutes, have a first draft completed. Set a timer, allow it to be bad.
  3. When stuck for longer than 30 seconds, force yourself forward. Avoid using the block as an excuse to stop.
  4. Write short emails; keep them to less than 140 characters. Otherwise, you don’t truly understand what you’re saying.
  5. Have a one-track mind. Don’t multi-task.
  6. Play music. Research has found that background music can help tackle tasks faster.
  7. Office lights should be bright. Most offices operate at 300-500 lux. A change of 300 lux to 2000 lux can improve productivity by 8{7e4ee7cd997d36f6dec43befd6b19c37edf0959bbf61766e988f901dd91e96d7}. Full daylight (not direct sun) is 10000 lux.
  8. Keep your desk clear to keep the mind clear.

Constantly review your activities, both the daily schedule and task list. Identify the essential. Always ask yourself “Is this necessary?” Eliminate the non-essential and you’ll be amazed at how much time is made available. A more open schedule leads to a more relaxed state of mind, meaning better focus and efficiency.

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