Some days at work seem like they will never end. They could be days when your coworkers are out on vacation or right after a busy time of the year. Motivation may be at an all time low and you might not want to do anything productive. An important skill to learn is the ability to keep your head down and stay focused on these kinds of days.
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1. Write Down Goals for the Day
At the start of your work day write just three to five goals for the day. They could be tasks you want to complete, issues you want resolved or even just preparing for a meeting and having it go smoothly. These should be your main focus for the day. When picking what to write down, think to yourself, “if I only accomplished these items, would the day be productive and a success?” Prioritizing them in order can be helpful, but don’t waste too much time trying to put them in the correct order; your plan is to finish them all today anyway.
Don’t worry about making a list that is 10 or 15 items long, just focus on the most important tasks for the day. If you happen to complete all of the items on the list, make another short list and start working on that. Remember to single task as you work through your lists. After you complete one of the goals listed, take a short break. Head to the restroom, go for a short walk or have a quick snack. This will make you feel refreshed and will keep you from getting burned out. After your break, dive right back into the next goal listed for the day.
2. Do Menial Tasks in the Morning
If you put off the most boring or tedious parts of your job till the end of the day, it will only make the day feel like it is dragging. If you know you have 30 minutes of data entry that you have to do today, plan on sitting down at your desk first thing in the morning and completing it. In the morning you are fresh of distractions, motivations are high and you are less likely to be sidetracked. Before you open your email, try to power through a dull task and get it out of the way.
The best way to deal with tasks like this is to complete them all at once by processing them in a batch. You will be able to focus on only a single task and you can get through a lot more of them in one sitting than if you were to try to do them in pieces throughout the day.
3. Work on Projects that Interest You
People work harder on assignments that they believe in or get satisfaction from working on. If there isn’t a project at your job that you are involved in that interests you, either find one that already exists or create one yourself. Look outside your immediate work group for initiatives that your company is pushing, improvements that are trying to be made or volunteer opportunities. Examples of this could be employee engagement, diversity gatherings or charity drives.
If you don’t find any that interest you, why not create your own? Do some research as to what kind of process improvements would make your job easier or less stressful. Approach your manager with an idea that interests you and a plan for how you will accomplish it. This will not only give you something to work on that you believe in, but also it will help give you visibility throughout your company.
4. Only Do Tasks You Want To Do
There may be days where you think to yourself, “If I have to fill out another purchase order I’m going to go clinically insane!” That’s okay. Take a day off from doing certain tasks if their deadline is not that day. Wait till you have a few of them and complete them in a batch like I mention above. You will be most productive when you want to do the task and when you are able to use your motivation to stay focused.
5. Work on What You’ve Been Putting Off
Are there emails you haven’t responded to for any good reason? Is there a project that has been stagnant for a month because no one has completed any next actions? Find what has been on the backburner for too long and address it. It will help put your mind at ease when you complete it and you will have one less thing to worry about. You will also be showing initiative if no one else has worked on it lately.
What do you do when your day at work is dragging or won’t end?