Look, we get it… work isn’t always the most
fun thing in the world. In fact, it can often be downright stressful -
especially when distractions get in the way. Fortunately for our sanity, there
are plenty of ways to help reduce - or even eliminate - this stress. We’ll go
over a few of those ways here.

Utilize Themed Days

This one comes from Jack Dorsey, the
co-founder of Twitter and CEO of Square. By assigning each day a “theme”, you
can determine when a newly assigned task should be completed immediately and
gotten out of the way, or currently labelled a distraction and rescheduled for
the appropriate day.

Use Templates and Canned

Templates are an incredibly efficient tool to
leverage when there is a task that requires repetition. Instead of redoing
everything each and every time, a template simplifies your task by
prepopulating the majority of what you need to share, leaving just the
pertinent details for you to add. Canned responses serve a similar purpose,
with the omission of the added details. This makes them ideal for out-of-office
notifications, alerts, and other generic communications. By committing some
time to writing them once, you can create a library to draw from as needed.

OHIO - Only Handle It Once

How often do you touch a task, only to put it
down to deal with it later? How much time do you think you waste doing so?
Instead of partially starting a task, only to postpone it until later, follow
the OHIO (Only Handle It Once) method and handle it then and there. This could
mean completing a task, delegating it as needed, reporting to the right person,
or divvying it up onto your to-do list.

Say No!

Not everybody can do everything - in fact,
nobody can. Therefore, you need to review your responsibilities and trim the
fat, as it were. Take a look at your to-do list. If there’s an item on it that
keeps getting pushed down, reconsider if that particular task is even
necessary. The same can be especially true of meetings. While some can be very
productive, many can be huge time sinks. This is especially true if attendees
deviate from the agenda, if too much time was set aside for the meeting to take
place, or if it isn’t really necessary at all.

Finally, returning to the to-do list for a
moment, consider making yourself a to-don’t list. Is there a task that you have
found to be too much trouble than it is worth? Add it to your to-don’t list and
avoid doing that task if you can help it.

Cap Co-worker Interruptions

Regardless of how good their intentions were,
your co-workers can very quickly and easily become your biggest distraction in
the office. While you may not always want to miss out on Jim’s latest round of
Dad jokes or the latest gossip that Cathy has dug up, there will be times that
you can’t be interrupted. Using your office’s chat system to give your
colleagues the notice not to disturb you (while putting on oversized
headphones) can help to maintain your focus by politely eliminating these

Streamline Your Processes

There are always those tasks that take longer
than they really should, that force you to sink your valuable time into them when
you could really better use that time doing something else. Instead of simply
repeating these kinds of tasks over and over, it may be worth your time to
investigate alternative means of doing things. Perhaps collaborating with other
departments to create a better solution is your best bet, or even turning to
other companies for inspiration.

Avoid Being a Perfectionist
(Unless You Have to Be)

Let’s review some of the side effects of
general perfectionism:

  • Stress
  • Procrastination
  • Unrealistic Expectations

Naturally, none of these are good things, but
in some cases, they can help you accomplish a goal.

In some
cases, that is. Perfectionism is a lofty and noble endeavor but is also one
that needs to be reserved for the end of a project. Think of it this way - a
typo is going to be much more serious in a project than in your email to your
colleague discussing the status of the project.

What methods have you used in your office to
help simplify your workday? Share them in the comments!