Do you ever feel unproductive at work? You're not alone. Research suggests that the average worker is productive for less than 3 hours in an 8-hour day.
To combat this, many employers are offering flexible work schedules or the ability to work from home. Companies implementing these types of strategies have seen strong improvements in employee efficiency and the ability to get more work done in less time.
If you want to maximize your own productivity in the workplace, follow these nine tips.
1) Get Your Workspace Right
Your workspace should be treated as your personal sanctuary. Getting it organized to your preferences will ultimately boost your performance. Some people find themselves more productive with standing desks. Others like to use lots of color, have plants or decorate their space with pictures of loved ones. The key here is to create your zen so you can find an optimal focus point.
We also recommend you perform a deep cleaning and purge old files. Unnecessary clutter on your desk will stifle your thinking and creativity. For documents you plan to keep, consider sorting into folders or file cabinets for later use.
2) Set Goals
Setting small, attainable goals for the week and month ahead will keep yourself focused. A good way to go about this is by brainstorming your thoughts offline and then going online. Writing your goals down with a pen and notepad will create less online distractions typically caused by emails, social networks and other digital disruptions.
Once your to-do list is complete, start with your most important tasks and work your way down the list. This should keep you in check throughout the day. If you find yourself beginning to procrastinate, make it a goal of getting one small thing done each day.
3) Know Your Prime Time
Some people are more productive in the morning, whereas others really hunker down towards the end of the day. Nobody knows your body better than you do. So be sure to plan around your peak performance time when you know your best work will get done.
Additionally, it is important to get enough rest. Being sleep deprived is not only going to affect your productivity, but also your overall health. Aim for the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night so you can feel recharged and ready to roll the next morning.
4) Take Breaks
Contrary to what you might think, taking short breaks throughout the day will actually make you more productive. Taking a break allows you to relax your mind and re-establish your concentration. The average attention span of a human is about eight seconds. Case in point, we can't maintain focus for a long duration without wasting time either daydreaming or getting side tracked.
Be sure to allocate specific time periods where you can step away from your desk. Read up on the latest news or have a quick chat with your coworkers to break up the monotony of your day. Taking regular walks can give you a healthy distraction to come back focused as well. Steve Jobs would often have walking meetings to get his creative juices flowing. Whatever distraction you choose be sure to keep it brief so you can get right back to work.
5) Give Yourself Deadlines
Procrastination is a challenge we have all faced at some point in our life. Some people make procrastination their way of life, while others procrastinate occasionally. According to Dr. Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University; the real reason humans procrastinate is largely emotional and due to our inability to make decisions that motivate an action. Procrastination is not a time management issue, but instead caused by a maladaptive lifestyle.
To avoid procrastination and improve productivity, give yourself a deadline to get certain tasks done. This will add more pressure on you to focus and meet the deadline you set. The beauty of setting your own deadlines is that it will give yourself more time to reach your goals without the unnecessary stress.
6) Do One Thing At A Time
As mentioned in one of our previous posts, only 2% of the population can effectively multitask. You may feel as if you're being productive, but in reality your probably not. Switching back and forth between multiple tasks will actually lead to more time wasted and reduce overall productivity by 40%.
Even if you're part of that lucky 2%, you should look to focus on completing one task at a time. People are more prone to making mistakes when multitasking. Stick to a monotasking mindset and you should see improved results.
7) Minimize Interruptions
From office chatter to text alerts, we are surrounded by constant distractions. One of the biggest culprits being our cellphone. Take the VitaminWater challenge for example. They are giving away $100,000 dollars to anyone that can go without using their smartphone for an entire year. Although extreme, it gives us a sense of how much we are distracted by these devices every day.
To mitigate these distractions, you need to take control of your environment. This can include things like turning your cellphone notifications off, shutting your office door or finding a nearby coffee shop to work from. Another way to avoid interruptions is to plan for it. Chances are they will occur anyways, so try to schedule your day with some wiggle room to account for these interruptions. A simple solution is to go into work earlier or stay later when the office is quieter.
8) Listen To Music
What would we do without music? It enhances our mood, gets us excited and relaxes us from life stresses. Restaurants, stores and other public places all play music to put buyers in a certain state of mind. Music is an important part of our daily lives and its therapeutic effect should be utilized in the workplace.
Listening to low-volume music will not only get you in the zone, but it helps to drown out distracting office noise. Choose music that works best for you and can keep you focused. Hubspot put together a great playlist of music that can help boost your office productivity.
Working out in the morning before work is a great way to jump-start your day. It gets your blood flowing and helps to relieve stress before you hit the office. If you can't find time before work to hit the gym, try incorporating some exercise during your day. Attempt to squeeze in a 15-minute workout during your lunch break or simply take a few laps around the office to get your heart rate going. For those seeking an alternative option, consider using an under desk elliptical.
Aside from the physical benefits, your mental health will also improve. When you exercise your brain releases serotonin, which sends a signal to the body that stimulates your mood and emotion. Exercising regularly will give you more energy, improve your concentration and lead to being more productive.