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This story originally appeared on DollarSprout.

Although you may use an eight-hour work day to evaluate your productivity, research suggests that employees are only productive for about three hours during this period.

Whether you're working remotely or in an office, there are distractions and tasks that make you money or a promotion take a back seat.

While some distractions are inevitable, they shouldn't focus your focus on doing things that will add value and help you make money, says Grace Marshall, author of the award-winning book How To Be Productive and a productivity expert at Think Productive.

According to Marshall, productivity is about managing your time, energy, and focus – so you can get your job done, make money, and still have time to lead a life.

With that in mind, there are various ways to increase your productivity and your earning potential.

1. Find your most productive hours.

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There is usually a time of day when you are ready to do your best job, but that time of day is different for everyone. "For me, my creativity comes to life late at night, so I reserve the evenings to work on big campaign ideas and new customer proposals," says Aimee Joseph, founder of the marketing boutique Brand Love Solutions. "My advice would be to find out when you are most creative and work with it."

To find your golden hours, listen to your body to get a feel for when you are feeling focused and motivated to tackle big projects. Plan your day so that during your most productive hours you get work done with the highest priority, while routine tasks can be done when you don't need as much focus.

2. Find out which office lifestyle is best for you.

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Some people work best independently while others thrive in an office setting. “In my experience, introverts like to work from home because they have time alone,” says Alexis Haselberger, productivity, time management and leadership trainer. “Extroverts have a harder time working from home for the opposite reason. You will be energized through time with others. "

Have you noticed that your work is affecting your output and focus? Think about whether you want to find a job or shape your career path around where you can work: remotely, in an office, or a combination of both.

3. Track and limit the time spent on each task.

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After a few months in the same role, you probably know how long it takes to get your normal, routine chores done. If there is a task that you need to plan, take your time and try to get it done within that time frame.

If you need help figuring out where your time is going, tools like RescueTime can be helpful. This app automatically tracks how you spend your time, lets you set daily goals and provides regular reports. Based on your adjustments, it will also limit the time spent on tasks and block temptations like social media, notifications, and message notifications.

4. Plan your week.

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Racheal Cook, business strategist and productivity expert, creates a weekly Google Calendar and blocks the time for family, friends and fun first. It then blocks important work tasks for defined hours in order to create boundaries between work and private life. If you don't make time for both, "the job can quickly take up any available moment of your week," says Cook.

If you block the time, you will stay up to date and be able to realistically estimate the deadlines, says Haselberger. She also decides (in advance) when to stop working each day.

5. Take regular breaks.

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It's just not sustainable to be 100% busy at all times. "If you don't take regular breaks, you risk burnout," says Haselberger.

Some productivity methods suggest working in short bursts followed by a short break. For example, productivity software company DeskTime says the most productive people work 52 minutes and then take 17 minutes off. Take yourself completely off work during this time. "A quick walk or reading an article can really reset your brain to get back into productive mode," says Haselberger.

6. Take time for personal and professional development.

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"When we're busy doing the work that brings us the next paycheck, we're responding to what's very immediate," says Marshall. However, it is important to also think about your long-term personal and professional goals and what steps are required to get there.

Professional development can include taking a training course for the next step in your career, attending a self-development seminar, or reading a book. Investing time in yourself may have to skip billable client work, but your earning potential increases over time. If you focus on personal goals, you can round off your work-life balance.

7. Avoid meetings whenever possible.

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You have probably heard that this workspace is a single line: "This meeting could have been an email." While meetings can be an efficient way to collect ideas and develop solutions, it is estimated that more than $ 37 billion per year are spent on unproductive meetings. But if you have to have one, Haselberger offers these tips:

  • Make sure every meeting has an owner. This person plans the meeting, sets the agenda and facilitates the discussion.
  • Include only the required participants. Information can be shared with others in other ways on a knowledge-based basis.
  • Always have an agenda. The owner sends the agenda to all participants. It should indicate the objective, discussion points, and any relevant materials to prepare participants.
  • Define the goal for the meeting. If you don't know what you're trying to achieve, don't schedule a meeting.
  • Decision vs. discussion. Decide whether the purpose of the meeting is decision making or brainstorming and discussion.

Using a strategy makes meetings more organized and productive and makes better use of time.

8. Outsource or delegate work if you can.

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Whether you run a company or are part of a large project with colleagues, everyone has a strength and a role. Delegating or outsourcing work means “letting others do what they can so you can do what only you can,” says Marshall.

For best practices, Marshall suggests communicating the desired results and defining basic rules. Although someone else is doing the job differently than you, "sometimes they do it better or in a different way that still gets the results you want," says Marshall.

9. Avoid time wasters.

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Distractions can torpedo your work day. These come in the form of chores, co-workers or children, as well as emails and notifications. "Most people check emails an average of 37 times a day," says Haselberger. "Every time we are interrupted or distracted, it takes an average of 23 minutes to refocus."

Don't let this derail your schedule. Instead of stopping work to do small tasks, you can:

  • Block the time to check and reply to your emails.
  • Turn off notifications on all devices during work hours.
  • Set communication limits with co-workers or household members.
  • Make time for housework.

Including these required tasks on your schedule will ensure that they get done and still leave you plenty of time to complete your larger tasks.

10. Create your own work processes.

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When you've found a good way to get things done, "let's not reinvent the wheel," says Marshall. By creating resources such as processes, checklists and pricing structures, you can only do the thinking and working once. The documentation also helps if you plan to grow your business in the future, says Marshall.

11. Automate tasks when possible.

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Every business has repetitive tasks to complete, but they take up valuable time. Some of these can be automated, which means technology is used to make things go faster. For example, instead of sending an email to set up a chat, you can use an app like TimeTrade.

Working with project management tools, using accounting software, and scheduling social media posts are other ways you can automate tasks.

12. Exercise regularly.

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Exercise does so much more than lower blood pressure and help you fit into your jeans. In one study, employees who went to the gym said they were more productive, managed their time more effectively, and interacted more smoothly with their colleagues. Exercise can also:

  • Increase your concentration, memory and creativity.
  • Help you learn faster.
  • Reduce Your Stress.

Joseph says exercising gives her a boost in creativity. In this case, she captures ideas on her smartphone for review later. “Writing everything down is key to me as my brain is cluttered with ideas. Reviewing my "idea dump" later is a great way to weed out the weak (ideas) and identify those with real opportunities. "

You can use Voice Notes or another app to record your ideas when it's easier than stopping what you're doing to write them down.

13. Take time to rest and recharge.

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Many people work nights and weekends, have few vacations, and retire late. "Leisure time is often seen as a luxury or an afterthought," says Marshall. "But rest is fuel for productivity." It can also improve your immune system, increase creativity, and reduce stress.

The rest will look different for everyone, but here are a few ways to achieve it:

  • Block at least one day a week that no work is allowed.
  • Practice self-care, which generally means getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising.
  • Take a Mental Health Day when you need it.
  • Take time to visit friends and family. But don't be afraid to say “no” to social visits if you feel overwhelmed.

Spending time outside of work and projects is important not only because you can rest and recharge your batteries, but also because you may feel inspired or have a new perspective when you return to your desk.

14. Get enough sleep.

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"If we don't feel refreshed, it can affect our ability to do our best job," says Marshall. "Research has shown that the long-term cognitive impairment associated with sleep deprivation is synonymous with drunkenness."

About one in three adults is not getting enough sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is considered "enough" varies by age and person. But in general, adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, the CDC says. Here are a few ways to help this:

  • Save caffeine for the morning and cut it off from your afternoon and evening.
  • Get a consistent sleep schedule by going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends.
  • Do not use smartphones and other devices right before bed. They emit light that can affect your circadian rhythm and your ability to fall asleep.
  • Avoid exercising and eating right before bed.

When you establish a bedtime routine and better sleep habits, you will be rested and able to perform at your best the next day.

15. Make a good selection of food.

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It's no surprise that foods are directly tied to your energy levels. You probably caught yourself at 2pm. Snack or coffee to boost your brain power for the afternoon. But while any food generally powers your body, some types of foods may be better at promoting productivity. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Keep healthy foods to choose from. Fruit and vegetables in particular have been shown to encourage curiosity, motivation and commitment. Nuts are also a healthy option.
  • Don't skip breakfast. A meal full of protein and complex carbohydrates gives your body the energy it needs to get through the day.
  • Graze. Hunger can lead to decreased productivity. So keep a healthy stream of healthy snacks handy throughout the day.

If healthy foods are difficult to incorporate into your day, allow a day to prepare meals. Not only does this save time and decision fatigue, it can also save money.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, sometimes we get compensation for clicking links in our stories.


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