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Scouted Report: This simple little tool has completely changed the workday for me in a way that makes me sleep better at night.
Nothing is quite as disappointing as getting to the end of the day and knowing I spent too much time on Instagram and got maybe half of my day’s tasks done. It’s something I constantly beat myself up about and part of the reason I have trouble sleeping at night. I struggled with getting tasks completed as I’d often just think of my workday as one long stretch of busy time. This is the mentality that set me up for failure, spending odd blocks of time working, only to pick my phone up and lose ~30 minutes to Instagram (I hope my boss doesn't read this!). I was on a repeat cycle of incompletion and lack of attention where it was most crucial.
It got to the point where I couldn’t feel good about my work, and that was bleeding over into my non-work hours because I just felt downright guilty. Some things can’t be avoided (like your cat coughing up a hairball during your zoom meeting or another package being delivered) but when you don’t actively make your workspace a distraction-free zone (especially if you’re working from home), then you’re going to lose valuable time. I decided to change how I worked and it started with one simple product—a productivity timer.
Yes, some might call this just a glorified kitchen timer, but I was shocked at how much more I was getting done each day once I started using this (and putting my phone out of arm's reach.) This simple little tool has completely changed the workday for me in a way that makes me sleep better at night. I’m able to set it to a desired amount of time for heads-down busy work, then I get a short, timed break. There are lots of these timers available, but I liked this one from Amazon the best because it looks modern enough to belong on my desk and it spins to set the time. For some reason, that is oddly satisfying.
If you’re thinking about how you can better set yourself up for productivity, then some of these tricks might work for you!
Plan your day ahead of time. Put down exactly how long you think the tasks will take and use your new timer!
Write down the top three most important tasks for the day. These are tentpole items that can’t get pushed over to the next day (even if they can!)
Use a productivity schedule. I personally like the 52 minutes of work/17 minutes of break. It’s an odd amount of time, but I find it has totally changed my workday.
Use website blockers. You can of course undo this whenever you want, but I find that if I have a barrier between me and a site that will distract me, then it helps to reinforce staying busy.
Listen to productive music. I really love Spotify’s Focus playlists!
Group similar tasks together. This will help you get more done much faster!
Start your day with an easy or difficult task. This took some tweaking for me but I find that I like to get the tough stuff done first.
Work near natural light. You’d be surprised how much this affects your sleep too! Avoid putting your desk in dark corners too far from windows.
Keep your phone out of arm's length if you don’t need it. (This was the biggest for me)