8 Effective Ways to Be More Efficient at Work

We’ve all been there. We get to work early with the best intentions to tackle our workload for the day, but then our phone lights up. Or we get a Gchat from a friend detailing her escapades last night.

We start bargaining with ourselves on when we’ll actually start working: right after this next cup of coffee or reading this round-up of cute animals swimming. Before we know it, the day is almost over and hardly anything is crossed off our to-do list. Then we’re rushing to get everything done and end up having to stay late.

Here are eight ways to break free from that cycle and get refocused at work.

Get your workstation organized

One way to minimize lack of focus is to organize your workspace so that you can find the things you need—and keep the things you don’t out of sight and out of mind. Move things like your purse, gym bag and, yes, even your phone out of your line of sight so that you’re not distracted.

Set your Gchat to “Busy”

Let’s be real: Sometimes Gchatting with friends is the only thing getting you through your work day, but it’s also not conducive to your concentration at work. It’s unrealistic to not use it at all, but putting yourself on busy or even invisible for an hour, then taking a break to check in, means you’ll be focused and working instead of being interrupted by the green glow that signals a new message.

Put on your headphones

Even if your office is set up cube-style, it’s easy to get distracted by someone’s loud phone conversation across the way. To keep your head down and your good vibes flowing during your workday, listen to music while wearing headphones. This will also make it harder for co-workers to come by and distract you, since they’ll have to get you to take your headphones off to start a conversation.

Block social media sites on your computer

We know, we know. But it’s just too easy to get sucked into your social media newsfeeds. Before you know it, it’s 3 p.m. and you’ve read about how barn owls mate for life and looked into whether or not teacup pigs are legal as pets and haven’t finished anything you intended to that day. There will be plenty of time to catch up on the latest adorable animal listicle after work, promise!

Eat breakfast

Even if you’ve never been a breakfast person, putting something healthy in your stomach first thing in the morning has been proven to improve concentration. Plus, you won’t be hangry come 11 a.m., and have to stop working to feed yourself. Eating breakfast also helps with weight management by keeping your body from going into fasting mode and producing insulin you don’t need. You’re welcome, waistline.

Work hard in short bursts

Studies have found that short bursts of hard work followed by quick breaks are the most effective way to tackle your workload. Instead of stretching out your toughest task by working on it slowly the entire day, go at it full speed ahead for 25 minutes, followed by a short break, and repeat.

Stay hydrated

Drinking enough water is crucial for maintaining energy levels and even improving brain focus. Make sure you’re consuming water throughout your work day. Experts suggest drinking eight glasses or more per day. This will also help keep you on track to take a short break from work, since you’ll likely be headed to the ladies room more frequently.

Snack smartly 

If your body is running on fumes, it’s going to be pretty hard for you to concentrate. Studies show that eating foods like blueberries, avocado, salmon and even dark chocolate have been linked to improved brain function. Make sure you’re incorporating these into your diet on a regular.

Danielle Page is the founder of ThisisQuarterlife.com, a blog that provides necessary information for navigating the awkward phase of adulthood known as “quarterlife.” Danielle’s work has been featured on Cosmo, Woman’s Day, Your Tango, Bustle, The New York Times, Thought Catalog, Elite Daily and the Huffington Post.