The number one tip to work smarter (and leave work on time.)

How many of you love ticking things off your to-do list? Feels great, doesn’t it! With each tick, your brain gets a dopamine hit and this encourages you to strive for this again. I’ve even caught myself adding tasks to the list that I’ve just completed, in order to instantly tick them off.

The temptation to multitask and try to get more done each day is huge, especially with our constant connectedness. The average day often consists of responding to emails while sitting in meetings or on conference calls, replying to instant messages and notifications every 30-minutes, working over a laptop while eating lunch. Sound familiar?

This constant multitasking means that we’re rarely fully present and is actually harming our productivity. Research into neuroscience and psychology shows that when we try to work on two tasks simultaneously, we force our left and right brains to split. Returning to a focused stream of thought, therefore, takes time as our brain needs to reconfigure. Over the course of a day, the effect of these constant interruptions adds up. No wonder we feel drained.

stressed pex

Work Smarter

Luckily, there’s a solution that takes a little getting used to but will dramatically increase your productivity.  Here’s how:

  1. Choose a one-hour time slot that you have free each work day to go find some quiet time – sticking to the same time each day is best. Block off this time in your calendar and set a notification to remind you. If one hour seems too difficult, then start with committing 30 minutes.
  2. Let your team know about your ‘quiet hour.’ You can explain that you’re scheduling time to work undisturbed on your most important projects and would really appreciate some space for this short time period. You may want to let line managers know too.
  3. When the time comes around, remove all distractions. Turn off your phone notifications and log off email and slack. If possible, book a meeting room to have some physical distance or noise canceling headphone can work if you have to stay put. Then commit to working on your most important task for this hour until the time is up.
  4. Knowing you have this time allocated, you can start to get smarter about planning your week. Consider your most important projects – the work that will provide most value – and map out your quiet time to knock these out of the park.

The critical element in sticking to this new technique is to never allow yourself to cancel or move your quiet hour – unless it’s a genuine emergency. It will take a few weeks but soon your new routine will become an unconscious habit. You may even convert some co-workers and be able to make it a broader team effort.


Images via pexels and pixabay.



Katie Evans

Katie is a life and career coach working with women to help them excel in a purposeful career while staying healthy and happy. Prior to coaching, Katie rose quickly to a Senior Director position within advertising but learned the hard way about the importance of prioritizing your wellbeing.