Feeling like you’re stretching yourself too thin? There just aren’t enough hours in the day, are there? While no one’s invented a time machine yet, or a way to stretch the space-time continuum and add a few extra hours per day, there are things that you can do to build in additional free time. In fact, chances are good that you have more time than you realize. You’re just not using it correctly. Here are five ways to boost your free time and make better use of the hours you have available.
Cut Out Social Media
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, G+ and the rest are lots of fun. They help you connect with people in your life, and even make new friends. However, they’re massive time sinks. How many hours per week do you spend mindlessly clicking that “like” button or re-sharing the posts of others? How many hours do you sink into Farmville? Chances are good it’s more than you think. Track it, and you’ll see.
Make a To Do List
Lists aren’t all that fun to make, but they can be valuable tools if you’re looking to make the most of your available time. Make a to do list and prioritize it in order of task importance. Check off each item as you complete it. This will help give you a sense of accomplishment and ensure that you’re making the most of your time rather than focusing on unimportant tasks.
Whether you’re doing housework or managing a busy office, you can make more of your available time if you delegate responsibilities. Understand that you don’t have to be the person to complete every single task. Get your kids involved in doing dishes, tidying up the house, gathering laundry. Get your spouse to contribute. In an office setting, delegate responsibilities to appropriate team members.
If you’re like most of us, you spend more time hunting for documents, files, folders and other things than you do actually involved with doing something. Every minute that you spend searching for something that should be right in front of you is a wasted minute. Get organized and stay organized. That applies just as much to your home life as it does to your work life.
Set Goals and Measure Progress
This is another tip that applies equally to home and work life – set goals and then measure progress toward those goals. Perhaps you want to improve your department’s performance by 5%, or maybe you want to finally clean out that storage building. Set your goals, track your progress and then celebrate your successes.
We all have more free time than we realize. The key is to identify where it’s being wasted. With the five tips above, you can cut out wasted time and free up a significant amount of time that you can spend in other, more productive ways. If necessary, start small (social media interaction, for instance) and work your way up to larger changes.
Staying productive throughout the work day is often a struggle that people experience on a daily basis especially when one is expected to work a set number of hours. Sometimes a day where you worked 3 or 4 hours may be more productive than trying to work 8-10 hours. When we lose the ability to focus on our work, we are no longer a valuable asset to our company and risk becoming a dispensable employee.
Lack of concentration is one of the greatest sources of decreased productivity. This is often experienced when unexpected distractions arise such as phone calls, mandatory meetings, additional tasks being delegated by a superior, among other potential nuances. These distractions lead to extra energy being exerted which then leads to fatigue and difficulty focusing on the important projects that need to be completed. It also makes it difficult to pick up where you had originally left off and may interrupt a great train of thought. If you find yourself experiencing the inability to concentrate or have a difficult time staying energized throughout the work day, perhaps it is time to consider our 8 tips for keeping your energy and be more productive throughout the work day.
1. Make Healthy Food Choices
The food we put into our bodies has a great impact on our work ethic and can help keep our energy levels up throughout the day. With the lack of time in our hectic work schedules, sometimes it can be difficult to remember the simple fact that we need to eat! Eating a balanced breakfast is recommended before each work day, so it is important to make the extra effort to wake up a little bit earlier to be certain we have breakfast before we leave for work. It is also essential that if you are feeling hungry throughout the work day to indulge that craving, with healthy snacks such as almonds, bananas, greek yogurt, etc. Feeling hungry leads to loss of concentration and causes you to focus on your need to feel full rather than the task at hand.
2. Get a Good Nights Rest
Most of us require a good 8 hours of sleep each night in order to function properly the next day. If you work a normal eight-hour work day, be certain to carve out time to sleep at least 8 hours each night. Schedule your after work activities accordingly to accommodate for your sleep schedule. Not only does lack of sleep negatively affect your overall health, it can also affects your clarity in thinking and clouds your judgement.
3. Sit in a Good Office Chair
This may seem like common sense, however most individuals sit in a chair that does not properly fit them which can lead to unnecessary aches and pains. If you begin to experience back pain or other health issues that occur from sitting in a cheap office chair, you will find yourself concentrating more of the pain than your actual work. Luckily, this can be easily solved by purchasing an ergonomic office chair. A good ergonomic office chair is at the tips of your fingers, literally, by simply searching for an online office chair retailer, you can order your new chair online and have it conveniently shipped to the front door of your home or business.
4. Take Short Breaks
Taking breaks during work is not only essential but actually encouraged by physicians. It is recommended to get up from your work station to stretch and walk around at least once every hour to feel refreshed and rejuvenated. Breaks can also be utilized when working on a large time-consuming project to give your mind a quick break and give yourself a few minutes to recharge your batteries. You will find that breaks greatly aid in the ability to immerse yourself in even the most mundane tasks.
5. Create a Clutter-Free Work Station
The last distraction you need from work is your work station. With the amount of work and paperwork that gets thrown on us on a daily basis, our desks can easily become cluttered which can cause havoc when trying to search for a particular document for a meeting or phone call with a customer. By keeping your work station organized you will eliminate the unnecessary stress that can come from working in a messy environment. If necessary, purchase the office accessories needed to organize your desk such as a monitor arm, cable management, keyboard tray, file cabinet, and/or storage tubs.
6. Disconnect From Your Personal Life
Perhaps the greatest distraction of all that can keep us from remaining productive throughout the work day is our personal life. With the technology available to us, it is easy to keep in constant communication with our friends and family through our cell phones, e-mail, social network sites, and tablet devices. When you arrive at work, make a conscience effort to disconnect from your personal life. Turn your cell phone off, stay off your social networking sites, and only have your work e-mail accessible. If you are worried you are going to miss something significant, wait until lunch to catch up on anything that may have occurred earlier in the morning.
7. Create a To Do List
It is easy to forget what you need to accomplish for the day when you walk into the office, especially after having a night off to relax and forget about the troubles of your previous day. Taking a few minutes in the morning when you first get in to prioritize and look over the day’s tasks, review what you accomplished yesterday, and plan accordingly can help eliminate the feeling of stress and chaos. Once a task has been completed, be certain to check it off. This will not only help you remember it has been completed but provide positive reinforcement which drives us to work harder.
8. Exercise Daily
Exercising daily helps keep your stress level down and helps you unwind after a long day of work. Simply walking for 30 minutes three to four times a week can improve your brainpower. Exercise also promotes the growth of new cells in the learning center of your brain. New cell growth allows you to have the ability to learn faster and retain more information. If you can not find time with your busy work schedule to exercise, consider utilizing your lunch break as an opportunity to get a quick run or walk in. When you come back to work you will feel more refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the challenges that the day will bring.
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Do you ever find yourself working for hours on end sitting in an office chair without getting up to take a break? This is not uncommon, in fact most people either do not know or forget to take breaks when working long hours sitting in one position. Whether you work full time or part-time from home or in a traditional workplace setting, it is still important to take breaks. Taking breaks while working long hours is essential and crucial to your health.
Employers may need to think about the environment in which their work takes place in order to develop an adequate plan for allowing time for breaks. For jobs which are full time, two shorter breaks is often adequate. People who work behind a computer all day should take a break every hour or so and be able to get up and move round. This enables them from being in a seated posture all day staring at the screen. People who work in highly repetitive jobs should be offered more frequent shorter breaks in order to prevent boredom which can result in a decrease in productivity, a decrease in proficiency, and less mistakes. There are many reasons why regular breaks are important; here are just a few.
1. Circulation is impaired by prolonged sitting: When you sit in static postures where you are not moving, circulation can be impeded. When blood flow to an active muscle is impaired, the oxygen supply is diminished, which over time can impair muscle function. The feeling of fatigue often is related to circulation and blood supply.
2 Working on the computer distorts the awareness of time: When working for long hours on the computer most people do not take breaks frequently enough, nor do they realize how much time has passed since they began working. An easy way to eliminate this problem is to make sure people take regular breaks by using time reminders.
3. Burnout: People who work continually face complete burnout and what good is a burnt out employee? Physical exhaustion can lead to problems such as chronic headaches, fatigue, inability to concentrate, and trouble sleeping at night. Even if all you take is 15 minutes during an 8 hour work day, you can use that time to refresh yourself and feel more energized the rest of the work day.
4 Productivity: Many studies have revealed that workers who take breaks are dramatically more productive during the day as opposed to those who do not. After a break, your performance levels increase dramatically so that you can tackle tasks again with renewed vigor and finish them accurately. Mistakes are also made more when you do not refresh your mind and body.
5. Heart Risks: After researchers in Finland conducted a study on a group of nearly 800 workers over the span of 28 years, they found that subjects who failed to find time to recover from their workweek were more likely to eventually die of cardiovascular disease. If people are not able to relax periodically, plaques can build up in their arteries which contribute to potential heart attacks and or strokes.
6. Stress: Focusing on a tedious task for too long can easily lead to physical and mental stress. Stress as most know, can lead to serious implications for our health. Common consequences of stress include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, poor fitness, low resistance to viruses, and serious illnesses. If something that is being worked on becomes too stressful, it is best to take a break from it and resume the work once calm and collected.
7. Repetitive Stress Injuries: Especially for those that sit at a desk all day staring at a computer, it is easy to develop repetitive stress injuries such as eyestrain from staring at a computer screen too long. Carpal Tunnel is also another injury which can develop from spending too much time typing and not typing in the proper position. Sitting in an office chair too long generally leads to wanting to fidget and move posture, most of the time into improper posture. By not sitting correctly and having adequate lumbar support, back and neck pain is sure to develop.
When starting your new routine of taking breaks, start small with 5 minute breaks and work your way up in about a week or two. Taking breaks at work cannot be considered being lazy, especially when you take short meaningful ones. There is no harm in trying, but there is harm in not trying.