By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes

You finish each workday feeling exhausted and completely depleted.  

All you want to do is go home, put your feet up on the couch and forget about the day.  

But then, as you pack your bag to leave the office, a coworker excitedly goes on about what a productive day they had. The guilt kicks in, and you decide you should pop your work laptop back open when you get home. 

We all have the same 24 hours in the day…So then why does it feel like some coworkers get so much more done than you?  

Productivity is an art and a science. The good news is…you can learn it!

Here are three ways to maximize your productivity at work and create more joy in your daily life.

1. Prioritize your workload based on your energy.

We have all heard the phrase, “Someone’s got a case of the Mondays.”

What if I told you “the Mondays” are actually the most productive day of the week? In fact, studies prove that mornings are the best time of day to tackle the hardest jobs.  

The human body moves in cycles, with peaks and valleys of high and low functioning. Everyone operates differently and on a unique circadian schedule. It is important to understand when your peaks are and your functionality is primed.

According to recent findings, your ability to be a morning bird versus a night owl may actually be based on your genetic make. This is all about understanding and paying attention to yourself. 

Start to notice what time of the day, and what day of the week you seem to have more energy to tackle tasks. Spend a week or two taking note of what times and days you feel most alert. Check-in with yourself each morning, afternoon and evening and notice how you feel, and where your energy levels lie.  

If you fall within the group that enjoys Monday mornings the most, block this time for you to focus on the most difficult and core tasks of the week. Needless to say, injuries and accidents occur 18% more frequently when employees report low alertness. 

The majority of people have a major slump between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. given that natural light begins to fade during these hours; post-lunch blood sugar levels start to also drop during this portion of the day. Take this time for more physical activity at work. If you need to run an errand or walk across campus, save these tasks for the afternoon slump.

2. Find peace and quiet away from your coworkers.

Staying on top of the office gossip, or keeping in touch with workplace friends can be really entertaining, but when you’re focused on a big project and in deep thought, their footsteps and conversation can be a huge annoyance. In fact, 32% of employees reported their chatty coworkers as the single largest culprit to killing productivity.

I’m not telling you to remove your workplace relationships, but I am telling you to create boundaries around your work. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The majority of employees report finding enjoyment in their work when they have close friends on staff.  

If there is a specific coworker or group of employees that repeatedly distract you from your work, make a point to instead set up a specific time of day or place to meet and chat. This shows that your work hours are times of focus for you, and creates a space for you to connect outside of the office. Grabbing lunch together or making a habit out of getting your morning coffee together is a great way to make time for bonds before you head into a focused day of work. This way, you separate your work chatter from your office desk.

It isn’t just in person chit-chat that can be distracting. Office messaging and email is dangerous ways to distract you from getting your work done, which is why I recommend turning off all online communication during the time blocks you determined as your best times of day to focus. If you’re feeling like you need breaks during these times, consider focus sprints of work followed up by a short five minute break to stretch your legs. 

When you all can create good habits, it will be easier to get more done, which means more morning coffees, happy hour cocktail dates and fitness classes for you and your work friends! 

3. Create a workspace that inspires you.

It isn’t just the when, it’s also the where that matters when it comes to being productive.

The open office layout has its perks but 58% of employees report wanting more quiet workspaces to get tasks complete efficiently. If your office has breakout rooms for individual work or space created specifically for quiet work take advantage of this and commit yourself to work there.

If that is not an option, you can still make your office space a solitude of focus and productivity. Invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones to not only drown out any noise, but also to use as a kind and silent indicator you are working and don’t want to be disturbed.

4. Get into a musical mix that helps you focus.

Do you do well with music? I’ve found that the combination of noise-canceling earphones and incredible music has made for a lot of focus. Calming music with around 60 beats per minute has been proven to reduce stress, not only just before going to bed but also while you work. In fact, I made a mix called “writer” on my personal Spotify when I was in the process of writing my first book, and I also have loved Spotify’s mix called Deep Focus. 

In order to get everything out of every hour within the day, start small and build in these habits to make change.  

You will be a productive rockstar at work in no time!

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  • I'm a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host (You Turn Podcast) and author, here to help you step into a career you're excited about and aligned with. This may look like coaching you 1:1, hosting you in one of my courses, or meeting you at one of workshops or keynote speaking engagements! I also own CAKE Media, a house of ghostwriters, copywriters, publicists and SEO whizzes that help companies and influencers expand their voice online. Before being an entrepreneur, I was an award-winning counterterrorism professional who helped the Pentagon in Washington, DC with preparing civilians to prepare for the frontlines of the war on terror.