Amirah Mercer
November 17, 2014 6:00 am

Alright, let’s talk productivity. Whether you’re a seasoned intern or it’s your first job fresh out of school, the office can be a hectic, amazingly energetic, and chaotic place. You’ve got your assignments, your co-workers, and your bosses to manage, which also means you have to be really adept at managing your time if you want to be your most productive self.

At one point in my previous life, I dabbled in public relations. A saying we repeated when the day became too stressful was: “It’s not ER, it’s PR.” This was a reminder that, while the client may be e-mailing us 24/7, we’re not saving lives here, so if we make a mistake, or can’t accomplish all of the day’s tasks, IT IS OK. The first step in being productive is allowing yourself to make mistakes and remembering that you’re only human — if a task goes undone, don’t fret. That being said, there are ways to make the most of your day, to increase focus, and make sure that the work you turn in is the best representation of your smarts and skills.

Here are seven productivity hacks that will make your job easier:

1. Create a daily to-do list

Every morning plan out the day ahead based on the priorities (tasks that must get done immediately, or that day) and then projects that you can spend a little more time on. Starting a new to-do list every morning helps you refocus your priorities daily, so that you can balance your workday and make time for both short-term and long-term assignments.

2. Use the Two-Minute Rule

Once you’ve planned out your day, take a look at your list: if there is a task that will take two minutes or less, do it now! A major productivity killer is procrastination. If you keep pushing off a project, you’ll continue to think about it, even as you’re doing other work. Maybe it’s as simple as recapping the notes from a meeting the previous day. It might not be a glamorous task, but if it’s a task that can get done quickly do it now. Type up those notes, and send them off, so that you can focus on the more interesting projects on your list.

3. Set times to check your e-mail

For some careers, like public relations, ignoring your e-mails is not an option. But you can’t let your e-mails run your life! If you have an assignment that will take at least two hours (for example, creating a media list), make a plan to check your e-mail once per hour. This way, you can track any messages that need urgent attention and save the others to read later once you’ve finished your project.

4. Set times to check social media

The office is not the time nor the place for FOMO. Your pals on social media will be there, and whatever they did or saw or selfied will be there too, whether you glance at Instagram now or later. Resist the temptation to scroll through your feed all day. That will only keep you from being focused on the task at hand. Instead, set a time everyday to check out social media. For example, you can use your lunch break to catch up with friends on Twitter or Snapchat.

5. Turn off your notifications

With your day planned out, including a time to check social, it can be easy to be sucked back into the fray by repeat notifications on both your phone and your computer. Turn off notifications on your phone so that you’re not distracted by people liking your photos on IG. Similarly, if you’ve set aside an hour to tackle a certain project, turning off those pesky email pop-ups during that hour will help you to be more productive in getting the job done.

6. Keep your open tabs to a minimum

You know the rabbit hole that we all fall into: we read one article on HelloGiggles, which links to another article, which links to Twitter, and the next thing we know, we have about 10 open tabs on our browser (plus, you probably didn’t even finish reading that first article all the way through). Too many open browsers and unread pages are distracting, not to mention they clutter your desktop. When you need to focus, close the tabs that you absolutely don’t need open (cough, Twitter, cough) and use an app like Pocket to save the links you want to read later.

7. Remember to breathe or meditate

Starting your day with a healthy dose of meditation before the workday can do wonders for increasing focus and concentration. Take at least five minutes each morning to clear your head and prep for the day. Also, in times of stress (trust me, they’re unavoidable sometimes), find an empty office, close your eyes, and just breathe! You’ll return to your desk more refreshed, calm, and better able to face the day head on! Now go get ’em girls.

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