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We’ve all had those days at the office that seems to fly past with very little actual productive work getting done. From getting on top of a flooded inbox to communicating effectively with clients and colleagues, there’s a lot to manage on any given day.  Getting lost in the chaos of the day happens to the best of us, but it’s also something you can manage to avoid if you plan well enough.

Here are our top tips for structuring your workday as effectively as possible, so the next time the clock strikes five, you’ll actually be able to tell where all that time went: 

1. Plan your day ahead of time

Listing your priorities the night before your day can make a world of difference when it comes to getting things done effectively at work.  Once you have a general plan in relation to what you need to get done, you can alter things depending on things you can’t avoid once you’re actually in the office. Five minutes of planning the night before, a ton of time actually saved once in the office.

2. Master your morning routine

Effective morning routines can increase your energy levels, and keep you feeling positive by starting your day off with a win. Some people prefer getting their gym time in before work, and while the science on this says it depends on the person, this can also help in terms of boosting your energy and focus for the day ahead.

3. Choose to do bigger tasks earlier, and use smaller tasks to break them up

We’re often at our most productive during the earliest hours of the day, so schedule more difficult tasks that take up a lot of brain energy during this time to ensure you’re being as efficient as possible. If you’re feeling drained or tired, check and reply to emails, or get around to cleaning your desks: these things take up less mental energy and will help you recharge.

4. If you need to procrastinate, time it

Only a superhuman can stare at a computer for hours on end without feeling any sense of fatigue.  At the same time, the mistake you definitely want to avoid making is clicking on one YouTube video, only to watch it become 4. Time your breaks to ensure you aren’t spending too much time wasting energy that could be devoted to being productive.

Most research points to the efficacy of the Pomodoro technique, which involves 25-minute work cycles followed by 5-minute breaks.

5. Check your email before leaving the office

To avoid your inbox overflowing, check it right before leaving the office and reply to anything that’ll take less than two minutes of your attention. Doing this will mean you’re left back to focusing on the important stuff for work the next day since you’ve already taken care of the smaller tasks.

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