Personal experience of a "Mediaset" ux/ui designer
After 2 years of work at "Mediaset" I managed to significantly increase my personal productivity. I will tell you what actions I have taken to leave work on time!
1. Forget about your phone and notifications while you work.
Perhaps it sounds shallow, but it's the most important rule, which lets you focus on your work.
Turn off all notifications on your smartphone and work computer except a corporate messenger. When your task has an urgent deadline, it is helpful to disable notifications for your corporate chats as well. A colleague may come to you if an issue is really urgent, especially, when you work in the same office.
But if you are a phone maniac and check your phone at any sound, try the Forest application. It can help you focus on your work in a quite unusual way: when you use it, you plant virtual trees, but if you get distracted by any message and leave the application, the forest you have grown dies. The better and harder you work, the more beautiful your forest is. It's a quite interesting and topical start-up for the 21 century.
To work effectively you have to understand what you do and why. The least effective days were the ones, when I performed my tasks according to the list, not my priorities. The most difficult of them I do in the morning. Then by the end of a working day I have time to do easier and low-priority things. Following this advice I stopped to procrastinate.
Also I use the Parkinson's Law. The essence of it is to establish rigid time-frames in order to force yourself to concentrate on your work and not to delay its accomplishment. If you give every task clear time-frames, the work will be done way more effectively.
A very common mistake of a beginner is an inability to refuse. When you clearly realize that you will not handle all the work assigned, but you settle for it to help your colleague or boss. An attempt to do all your planned things and suddenly appeared others' work will not do any good. As it is said, if you run after two hares... To properly use your working force, you have to be able to say "No".
Let's imagine that you have been assigned to make 30 websites for one week, and not 20, as usual. It is required to complete the plan or one of the workmates has asked you to unload his tasks while he/she is sick. Result: night work and lack of sleep. The quality of the web-sites and your health suffer from it. The unhappy week passes by and, coming back to your usual working rhythm, you notice that everything is balanced. Surely, you earned more money, but now they might easily be lost because of your low efficiency in the following weeks. The problem of this strategy is that our time is limited, and therefore at some point you will come to a limit of your financial or physical resources.
Refusal repertoire for our readers:
Let me first check my schedule
Soft no or no, but...
Yes, but what shall I take off my list of the priority tasks?
Refusal with sense of humor
I can't do this, but X might be interested
Use your auto answer in your electronic mail. (I am very busy now #activity. Unfortunately, I am not able to answer your e-mails the way I'd like to. I apologize)
Our brain likes when we are super-busy, because it causes emission of the happiness hormone (dopamine). The brain requires "goodies" for the efforts. When we switch focus between the tasks and mobile notifications, we get a tiny dose of dopamine. But really it hides a dirty trick: you are happy, satisfied, but if you look closer: where does the happiness come from? You have been distracted from an important task, lost concentration and time, which you have to catch up later when you're under stress.
We need some time to understand the task and start to do it with maximum efficiency. Any distraction or switch between different kinds of activities slows the work down.
Also try to decompose: divide difficult tasks into small and easier ones. You would be more pleased to do them, and the list of accomplished tasks would increase visually and qualitatively.
Lifehack for task systematisation: every single task is a separate window in a browser. To minimize a big amount of tabs and not to overload a computer I use "One tab" extension. It allows not only saving core memory, but also dividing tabs, that are classified according to topics, on a separate page. So, your small tasks will be seen on a scale of the largest one.
5. Take a lesson from people that you consider effective
The easiest way to become the person you want to be is to find the person who achieved the results you need. To understand how it was done, what principles and habits were used. And transfer all of this to yourself. If you can't find this kind of person in your real life, read specialized literature.
A good example of the needed book is "The 4-hour work week" by Timothy Ferris.
Does it sound controversial to the point 4?
No, it doesn't, my dear friend. I will explain it now. It is about evening time, when you are already tired and try to do the task that doesn't work out. If you have time - just forget about it. You will be more effective, when you open it tomorrow, after you get some rest, with new powers and ideas. You can ask for advice or consult with your workmate. It is important not to ask him/her the very same evening. Most probably he is as exhausted as you)
7. Create your working principles
Life principles discipline oneself and help to become a person. They are your wishes, perspectives on different situations and behaviour. They are different for different people and depend on surroundings and environment.
It doesn't matter, what time I get to office, how important my task is, I always read designer newsletter for 20 minutes, when I come to work. It helps me to keep track of my sphere and learn something new. Stipulate your principles and stick to them.
Aspiration to perform more work is commendable.
One can work too hard, arrive one hour before everybody to make everything in time or stay late all the time.
But I suggest improving and increasing slowly your efficiency by using all the ways mentioned above. By the way, they have effect not only at work, yes)
The time is limited, and only you choose how to manage it.
Well, I have already decided everything.