For many, being productive at work can be a daily struggle. It’s overwhelming when emails and messages continue to accumulate from days before. Stress builds up as deadlines approach and the workload continues to heighten. As a result, some of us pull long hours and attempt at multi-tasking just to ensure that work gets done on time. We juggle several tasks at once thinking that’s how a lot of work gets done. Here are a few do’s and don’ts when boosting productivity at work.

DON’T multi-task. Multitasking causes your mind to be cluttered. Going back and forth on more than one task causes distraction and disorientation. You think you’re getting more work done, but in reality you’re slowing down your work. It takes time to get back into the rhythm and figuring out where you left off. This creates more room for error and it takes more time to go back and fix your mistake than to get it right the first time around.

DON’T come to work restless. Being sleep deprived not only affects your work, but your relationship with colleagues. From the book, “Journal of Sleep Research”, the author discusses a study that compares the cognitive performance of individuals with a restful night of sleep versus those that experiences 24 hours of sleep deprivation. The study shows that sleep deprivation causes your productivity to decrease significantly, by 16%. It’s more difficult to absorb information and read through your emails when you are restless and physically unfit to get through the day. Going to work restless allows more room for mistakes. Being restless also makes a person very irritable and more likely to lash out on others. A rested mind is an efficient mind.

DON’T skip meals. Making sure your stomach is content is as important as getting enough sleep. Skipping out on meals also means missing out on that boost of energy and fuel you need to get your work done. No one likes to work on an empty stomach.

DO take care of yourself. Before you get down to work, make sure that you’re taken care of. That means getting enough rest the night before and eating the necessary meals throughout the day to ensure you have the energy to get through the day.

DO organize and prioritize your work. Once you take care of yourself, it’s time to take care of your workspace.  Organizing your workspace includes your desk, emails, and other platforms that are relevant to your job. Either you’re a visual, auditory, read-write or kinesthetic learner, find a system to organize your work so that you know when projects are due and deadlines are coming up. Having your work organized also benefit those around you. In the case of your absence, having a designated place for everything makes it easier for others to pick up from where you left off. Once you are organized, you will find it much easier to prioritize your work from there.

DO time block. If you are a visual worker, keep a calendar or white board and map out a visual of when things are due and the phase of the project. That way, you will know when all the deadlines are coming up and there are no surprises. Instead of listing out the things you have to do each day, schedule in a time on your calendar to ensure that you allocate time for each task. This helps you focus on one task and making sure it gets done right so you can get it off your mind and focus on the next task on the agenda.  

DO take a break once in awhile. Part of taking care of yourself is not just after or before work, it includes during work as well. Take a five to ten minute break when you’re working for hours on end. Taking breaks helps you to refresh mentally and physically. Take a walk or do some stretches at work so you are not all achy and strained from sitting in one place all day. Work does not have to be painful as long you don not make it so.