Putting a puzzle together is a good analogy for approaching, organizing, and accomplishing your work week.
For a jigsaw puzzle, first, all the pieces must be taken out of the box, laid face up, and generally organized based on the overall picture that the puzzle will create. Then, a framework needs to be built by forming the outer edge of the puzzle, before one can move ahead to tightly fit individual pieces together, section by section. From here, the entire puzzle is put together with focus, a clear vision, patience, and sometimes, a shifted viewpoint.
Now, think about the parallels between your weekly work performance and what it takes to put a puzzle together. Without a good framework and clear goals in mind, it is hard to work through the various elements of your week. And as you work, sometimes progress slows, or you get distracted, and a change of perspective is needed to achieve the desired performance outcome.
Over the years, we at WMA have analyzed our own habits and routines during the work week and have taken a variety of approaches to increase productivity levels and more easily achieve our end objectives. Through trial-and-error, we have found what works best for us, and we think these practices will work great for you too!
Below, we share our three favorite and most valuable practices that you can use to maximize productivity and have the most successful work week. Of course, please personalize these ideas to fit your own schedules, interests, and needs.
1. Establish a Stress-Free Morning Routine
Are you running around in the mornings, skipping breakfast, and quickly grabbing things as you head out the door? Or are you getting up hours before work to fit in a good exercise and get ready leisurely? How we all start our morning, impacts the tone for the rest of our day.
With the new year beginning, take a moment to evaluate your current morning routine and see what small aspects can be changed to make yourself less stressed. It’s not about getting up at daybreak just to fit in a yoga session, but rather making small, simple changes that will help you begin your day in a more relaxed way, which will in turn help you set a more positive and successful day!
Here are some things to try out…
- Free up time in the early mornings by preparing your meals the night before. Have never meal prepped? Here’s how.
- Prioritize being present, calm, and phone-free first thing in the morning and reserve some time to sit quietly with a cup of coffee or tea, to write in your journal, or practice yoga.
- Get energized and boost your mood by playing your favorite music and boogie into the rest of your day! There are plenty of benefits to listening to morning music.
2. Adjust Your Time-Management Strategy
Consider rearranging your work week in half-day or full-day blocks with time purposefully set aside on your calendar for “Make Time” – time in your schedule that is reserved for you to focus on what matters most, or your priority for that day.
In this Forbes article, according to Jeremiah Dillon, head of product marketing at Google Apps for Work, we should all create and protect our Make Time, and aim to do the following each week:
- Monday: Energy ramps out of the weekend — schedule low-demand tasks like setting goals, organizing, and planning.
- Tuesday, Wednesday: Peak of energy — tackle the most difficult problems, write, brainstorm, schedule your Make Time.
- Thursday: Energy begins to ebb — schedule meetings, especially when consensus is needed.
- Friday: Lowest energy level — do open-ended work, long-term planning, and relationship building.
Learn more about time management, redesigning your time, and how Make Time works by visiting maketime.blog.
3. Plan Out Work & Life at the Same Time
Without a doubt, one thing that will improve your productivity levels is to maintain a strong work-life balance. Not only will you feel better both mentally and physically, but you will be more focused on the task at hand and will be able to think more calmly and clearly.
To do so, it’s important to plan out your work tasks and life happenings at the same time. This will prevent any overlaps in scheduling from happening and give you a clear idea of what’s to come during the week.
From planning ahead to communicating with your manager or team members about your priorities and time management needs, there are many ways you can improve your work-life balance. In this article, the BetterUp Blog shares 12 tips to do just that.
We’ve shared what helps us maximize our productivity levels and have a successful work week. We hope this information can be a good starting point as you find what works best for you.
Some other useful tips:
- Before you make a to-do list, start your week with a brain dump. Get everything (ideas, tasks, events, etc.) out of your head and onto a blank sheet of paper.
- Keep your schedule flexible, because as we know, life happens.
- Use the Pomodoro Technique to beat procrastination and improve focus.
- Keep a to-do list visible on your computer screen, or somewhere on your desk to reference, and keep yourself on track.