focus productivity

It is well known that the laws of time and space mean nothing during the last half an hour of work on Friday, which has been scientifically proven (read: decided by me) to be the longest half an hour of the week. One minute it’s 4:46 PM and twenty minutes later it’s somehow only 4:47 PM. You need to finish up this niggling, fiddly job you’ve been putting off all week, and it would be helpful to get ahead on Monday, but suddenly here you are, trapped in a slump so deep your chin is milimeters from your navel, moving glacially towards close of business.

Hyperbole aside, keeping your momentum right to the bitter end is often difficult. And that can leave you feeling like you’ve had a lousy, unproductive week, even if you haven’t. Other than freeing up a ton of admin time by adding online booking and scheduling tools to your site, there are a few other ways you can keep your productivity up. So if your motivation is starting to nosedive, try these ten little things and ride a wave of success and elation all the way to home time.

  1. Close all your tabs. To avoid getting stuck in that aimless clicking back and forth trying to find something that you still have the energy to do, close everything. Then, decide what is doable in the time you have, and just open what you need. Seeing your screen looking focused will make you feel the same way.
  2. Turn up the music. Put your jogging playlist on and let it drown out all thoughts that don’t make you feel determined and energised.
  3. Throw away your to do list. After checking off everything you’ve done, start a fresh list for the following week with anything left over on it. Then get rid of the old one (personally, I get a kick out of physically screwing up a paper list and lobbing it into the bin, or better yet shredding it, but just moving all your Trello cards to ‘done’ works too.)
  4. Make yourself a drink. Tea, beer, whatever’s appropriate, the point is that you give this last bit of work wind down vibes. Think of it as stretching after exercise, but for your poor tired brain.
  5. Break it all the way down. If you really want to get something done but your focus is scattered, break down the remaining time you have into small sprints. Like, really small. Five minutes or fewer. Then, alternate those sprints with equally short breaks. This is not a great way to work in general as it breaks your flow too much, but if it’s this or guiltily procrastinating for forty minutes, then super short sprints it is.
  6. Do your busy work. Anything that requires very little brain power is now top of your list, that means email clear outs, desk tidy up, file organising, stapling… anything super boring and yet weirdly satisfying.
  7. Have an impromptu meeting. Because you have now Had Enough, and likely your team has too, take the time to wander over and have a chat about something in a low-key way. Questions you have, ideas for next week, or just a regroup and debrief. Ending the day by talking about the week’s successes/exciting upcoming projects might just pep you up and send you off on a cheerful note.
  8. Stand up. If you don’t have a standing desk, pile up some books and boxes to the right height and put your laptop on top. I’m always taken aback by the burst of energy and productivity I have when I start working standing up.
  9. Eat an apple. Apparently apple juice is as effective as coffee at waking you up in the morning. Whatever you think of that, eating an apple will give you a little sugar boost and some good vitamins, and will stop your belly growling at you distractingly while you finish your tasks.
  10. Leave. If all else fails, call it a day and pack it in early. It’s Friday after all.

Published on 24 November 2017