If you work Monday to Friday, nine to five then you’ll probably struggle to have a productive week after a bank holiday or a four-day week. A struggle is inevitable when you remove a full working day, but it’s still possible to get things done.
As our working culture adapts, and the focus moves towards productivity rather than ‘presenteeism’ – or simply appearing to be at your desk, four day weeks and flexible working hours are set to become more regular. While less time working sounds great, it comes with challenges – after all no matter how many days you do or don’t work, everything still needs to get done.
Here’s 6 easy ways to make sure nothing important gets forgotten:
1. Get the hard stuff out of the way
Just like the “rip the band aid off” cliché or popular Eat that Frog producitivy method, it’s advised to get your most difficult and important tasks out of the way early in the week. This “front-load” technique means you’ll get all your vital work done and allows you to relax a little as the week goes by.
2. Go old-school
Use a pen and paper to write your list of tasks for the day. Studies show that writing rather than typing allows your brain to process information better. Not to mention the satisfaction of manually striking something off your list.
Paper is also less distracting than having your to-do list stored on an app. You might have unlocked your phone to check on your tasks but next thing you know you’re checking how many likes your latest Instagram post got.
3. Trick yourself
Trick your brain into being productive with a short, achievable daily to do list. Ideally, limit your list to just three tasks per day. Choose three things you absolutely must get done and everything else can be treated a bonus. A short list means your brain won’t get overwhelmed and you’ll get more work done.
4. Don’t multitask
Distractions cost time and can affect the quality of your work. Focus on just one task at a time. Turn off your phone and deactivate email notifications for prime concentration.
If your job entails lots of meetings try and limit appointments to either before lunch or after lunch. This way you will have longer periods of uninterrupted work time.
5. Be strict with yourself
Manage your meetings and ensure they don’t run overtime. Do this by sticking rigidly to an agenda and to do list. When out of meetings make yourself unavailable for blocks during the day to get everything done. Make the most of your day by being organised and having all the resources you need to complete your tasks – whether this is research for a report or quick access to coffee.
6. Be kind to yourself too
To avoid getting stressed and getting nothing done, getting even more stressed as a result, make sure that you eat well, drink loads of water, take breaks and get a good night’s sleep each night.
Making after work plans can also help to ensure you don’t do too much over-time, and gives you something enjoyable to work towards at the end of your work day.
A change in working culture, such as shorter working weeks and more flexible working hours comes with challenges. Focus on tips like these, and other productivity methods, to achieve the best results and work-life balance.
Looking for a new job that offers a permanent four-day week?
This blog was originally published in April 2017, and has since been updated and republished.