If you work a regular 8-hour office job, you’ll know that actually working the full day’s worth productively is quite a feat. Take off one hour for lunch, a few minutes here and there to give your eyes a break from the computer, and throw in another hour to account for the time you spend getting back into the groove after being interrupted from a task. The next thing you know, it’s 5.30pm and you wonder what you’ve accomplished for the day. And hey, we’re not even judging you for scrolling through Facebook every now and then!

The last thing you want to do is to put in the extra hours because you couldn’t get your work done on time. Here are a few handy hacks for you to try out at work!

1. Emails

We love the guy who invented email, but it has also become one of the biggest distractions at work. How many times do you check your inbox in a day and get sidetracked from the task you were actually working on?

Set specific times to check your email. And ignore it for the rest of the day. It will be difficult at first, but try to resist the overwhelming urge to click the refresh button every 5 minutes. If it’s urgent, the sender will find a way to contact you. You’ll be surprised that more often than not, a lot of things can wait. You can even get into the office a little bit earlier to get a head start on clearing your inbox for the day while enjoying a steaming hot cup of MILO®.

Create a system to keep you on top of those emails. The simplest way is to mark them unread so you’ll know you’ll have to tend to them. If you’re a bit of a stickler for organisation, depending on your email client, you can make use of functions like labels, categories, and flagging important emails. Go one step further by exploring post-it notes, reminder tools, and even productivity apps on your phone. One man’s meat is another man’s poison, so try a few different things to see which works best for you.

2. Meetings

 “Sorry, I have back-to-back meetings today.” Sound familiar? Meetings can be one of the most unproductive tasks, holding you back from actually getting work done. This is especially true for meetings outside your office because half your time is spent travelling to and from it.

Don’t be afraid to suggest alternatives. Some meetings can be replaced by a group email or a quick phone call. But if a meeting is absolutely necessary, try to take charge by making it organised. Take a few minutes to set an agenda and objective – is it a brainstorming session, a decision-making meeting, or a WIP? Ensuring that everyone is clear on the purpose of the meeting will go a long way. You can even give everyone a fixed time to wrap things up – an hour is usually more than enough.

Record minutes and send out a follow up memo. What happens after a meeting? Many a time, unorganised meetings end up with no conclusion. Recording minutes can be a tedious task, but think about how much more tedious it would be to realise one week on, no one did what he or she was supposed to do!

3. Day-to-day tasks

Plan the rest of your week on Monday morning. Judging from how long you usually take to complete certain tasks, put yourself on a strict schedule: e.g. half an hour for that budgeting sheet, one hour for project planning, 10 minutes to draft a memo, etc. Get yourself pumped up by having a great MILO® with breakfast to put you in the right state of mind for planning.

Set checkpoints. When you’re halfway done, look at the time. If you’ve taken longer than you should, taking a quick break will help refocus your mind. Don’t push yourself to power through it – you may end up making mistakes!

Be prepared to say no to colleagues. If you’re working on something that requires intense concentration, try to book yourself a meeting room or a quiet corner at the office. When someone approaches you with a favour or request when you’re in the middle of something, a polite “I’m working on something urgent, may I get back to you after I’m done?” will help you stay focused.

Try these tips out and watch your productivity at work increase! With all that freed up time you have on your hands, reward yourself with a cup of MILO® 3-in-1 to keep you energised for the rest of the day. You’ll even be able to catch up on some office gossip during your break time!