'Stop working at full capacity': A productivity expert's 5 tips for a more effective workday.

As we approach the end of 2021, we can feel it in the air: Our motivation is fading. Fast. 

With Christmas break around the corner and far too many festive celebrations to follow a year of reduced socialising, it's no wonder there is a particularly palpable December burnout knocking us down in droves.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

Side note: Check out the things successful women do every day. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

Whether you've had a second wind of inspiration urging you to kick up your output, or maybe you clicked onto this article in preparation for the year ahead, there is hope for a more effective workday. 

And her name is Donna McGeorge.

Or at least, that's the name of one very notable productivity expert and best-selling author who has some tips for us to revolutionise our workday. 

From cutting out multi-tasking, to working at 85 per cent capacity, here's what she recommends to ensure you're having a very productive day at work.

1. Wipe your mind.

According to Donna, there's a foolproof way to start your day on a productive note, and all you need is a sheet of paper and five minutes.

"The human mind is meant for creating ideas, not storing them," Donna says.

That's why she suggests you spend the first few minutes of your day writing down everything and anything that comes to mind.

"Maybe your mum has been unwell, or your dad's birthday is coming up, or you haven't ordered something online yet that you meant to... You wipe your mind, first thing in the morning, of everything.

"Out of that may come actions that you can stick in some version of a to-do list, but that's the way we clear our space." 

By doing this, your brain will be freed up to focus on creative or more pressing tasks.

Image: Getty.


2. Time your to-do list to your body clock.

According to Donna, people spend far too much time focusing on which tasks are "most urgent", rather than those which require a little extra brain power.

... And that's making your workload a whole lot heavier.

"According to our body clock, no matter whether you're a night owl or early bird, typically the first two hours of our day are your most alert," Donna says. 

"So rather than looking at tasks in order of urgency, we need to think, 'what are the things that require my brain to be really switched on?'"

At the start of your workday, schedule in time for the heavy-lifting to-do's instead of the (often mindless) but most pressing tasks.

Then, where you might find yourself in an afternoon energy slump, Donna suggests performing your churn and burn, or 'low intensity' duties.

It's that easy!

Listen to the 8 Minutes To Change Your (Work) Life podcast below. Post continues below. 

3. Cut out multitasking.

"Women in particular are often having to do a bit of work, while also dealing with the housework and other life admin tasks," Donna says. 

"And our minds can be a bit all over the place."

The thing is, focusing on many things at once lowers productivity across all areas. So Donna suggests The Pomodoro Technique to combat distractions. 

Simply set yourself a 25 minute timer for bursts of productivity, allowing for brief, five-minute breaks in between where you can let yourself be distracted by the washing (or any other non-work-related chores!)

Image: Getty.


4. Work at 85 per cent capacity.

You need to stop giving 100 per cent of your energy to your workday.

Yes, really.

According to Donna, working at full capacity is a recipe for burnout and missed opportunities. But there's a very easy way to cut back on your workload.

"If you think about your calendar, you should be leaving at least 1.2 hours free from meetings," she says.

"Create that buffer for yourself to catch up on work, or to take advantage of an opportunity."

By allowing for a 15 per cent buffer in your day you'll work at a more consistent, lower pace throughout the day instead of a frantic rush.

Sounds like something we can get behind.

5. Check your 'urgency assumption'.

Have you been asked to fix something up by a manager and dropped everything you were doing to get it back to them ASAP? 


"Too often someone says 'hey, can you do this?' and we assume they need it straight away. Or they say, 'can you please come to my meeting?' And we assume that we haven't got the option to say no," Donna says, and yep, we've been there.

"The assumption that everything does have to be done immediately makes up a lot of our overwhelming urgent tasks."

But it doesn't have to be the case. 

When approached to join a meeting or "fix something up", Donna suggests asking before accepting: 

"Is there any chance that we do this meeting tomorrow? 

"Tell me specifically when you need this done by."

It might just save you your afternoon.

Donna McGeorge is a productivity expert and bestselling author. You can pre-order her newest book, The 1 Day Refundhere

Feature Image: Getty.

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