Do you often find your workday spiralling out of control? It starts off great with a hefty to-do list and the general feeling of being able to conquer all. Slowly, you lose concentration, begin to procrastinate and focus on what Rachel is gossiping about at the water cooler behind you. Suddenly you’ve slumped into a sleepy state of mind that you can’t escape.
Learn how to regain control and make the most out of your working day with these life-changing tips below:
1. Eat Right
What you feed your body is so important. Ever noticed that after a heavy-carb lunch you automatically want to sleep and can’t focus on the letters on your screen? Likewise, if you’re feeling hungry, you’ll find it super difficult to concentrate on the task at hand. Snacking during the day can help you feel better, but you should choose healthy snacks to avoid crashing later in the day.
2. Stay Hydrated
Even though choosing the right food is important, staying hydrated is even more so. Many people don’t realise that even mild dehydration can make it difficult to concentrate and perform mental tasks. To stay hydrated and alert, you must drink at least six to eight large glasses of water a day and cut back on caffeine. For many of us coffee is a must throughout a work day, but if you drink too much in the morning, you will notice that you crash in the afternoon. Manage your intake throughout the day and try consuming a few cups of green tea (which also has caffeine in it), instead.
3. Limit Distractions
If you’re anything like me, you can be easily distracted, by the music blasting from the car passing by, or a phone ringing and an interesting conversation going on at another pod. By making small changes, you can block out these distractions and improve your productivity. Start using techniques to block out sound by solely focusing on the work that you are doing; you can reach a level where you are so engrossed that the rest just becomes background noise. Give yourself a five-minute break to join in on conversations and then get back into your working zone.
4. Take Regular Breaks
When you are feeling mentally fatigued, take a short break; you can go and make yourself a cup of tea, catch up with a colleague, or simply take your eyes off your screen to relax. Taking breaks can sound counterintuitive, but it’s really the key to better productivity. Studies referenced on the Entrepreneur, show the 'perfect' formula is to work for 52 minutes and break for 17. You don’t have to set timers and become a stickler about the schedule – just get up and move, or move on to another task for a few minutes to “reset” the brain and come back to the original task refreshed.
5. Delegate like a Boss
So many workers find it difficult to delegate as they feel that it’s simply easier to get the job done themselves rather than wasting time explaining it to a colleague. This mind frame is wrong and it means that you are micromanaging (and everyone hates a micromanager). You should know your co-worker’s strengths and delegate tasks that you know they can complete to the best of their abilities without you having to monitor every step. That way you can get on with the important project that’s been on your list for-like-ever.
6. Be Organised
Being organised will make you more productive at work and in life. Create a long-term to-do list of tasks you want to achieve and accomplish, and keep that pinned on your cubicle. Every evening before you leave work, create a to-do list for the next day and prioritise the tasks that must be completed first (you can use numbers, or highlighting – anything that works for you). When you’ve accomplished the task tick or cross it off so you can visually see the progress you’re making. This strategy will increase your motivation in the workplace and you will feel less stressed knowing that you have control.
7. Tame the Office Temperature
The physical environment of your workplace can make a real impact on how productive you are. Researchers discovered that the office temperature should be at 21 degrees so it’s comfortable for employees. If you find that you are too cold or too warm, think of ways to manage the temperature; either by manually adjusting the air conditioning system, or buying a small desk fan or heater.
Using work time to exercise may actually help improve productivity, according to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Set days in your week where you can go for a walk at lunch or attend a quick gym class. That said, if you really have no time, you can squeeze in some exercises at your desk. Getting your blood pumping could be just what's needed to clear your head and get your focus back.
9. Sit in Natural Light
Depending on how your office is designed, you may have to rely on artificial lighting. But if you have a window near you, try to keep the blinds up and the window open. Natural light helps you feel more alert and rejuvenated and improves the overall productivity in the office.
10. Take Your Lunch Break
Many workers decide to skip taking a break and try to work through their entire day at their desk. Taking a break and being in different surroundings can boost proficiency. You will return feeling refreshed with new ideas. If you try to battle through you may hit a roadblock and will be much less efficient.
11. Set Goals and Deadlines
You should regularly set yourself goals to work towards and deadlines you need to achieve. Improving productivity in the workplace is easier when you create actionable steps to meet your objectives. If you want that promotion you need to set the pathway that will lead you to it.
12. Don’t Multi-Task
This will come as a surprise to you, but apparently, multi-tasking actually makes you less productive – shocker! Research conducted by Stanford University shows that 'productivity can be reduced by as much as 40 percent by the mental blocks created when people switch tasks and lowers your IQ.' Start tackling one task at a time from now on.
13. Motivate Yourself with Music
Music can distract certain individuals but can be a great booster for others. If you fall into the latter category, create a playlist of encouraging songs and listen to them when you are feeling less productive. If you aren’t allowed headphones at work, you can do this on your walk during your break.
14. Decorate Your Cubicle
Consider making your workplace feel like home with your personal decorative touch. You spend a lot of your life at work and can make a more relaxing atmosphere so you feel happy at your desk. I’m not telling you to turn it into a personal memoir to your loved ones -TOO many picture frames can be a little creepy, but a few key stationary items and plants are fine.
15. Move Around
Standing up and moving around helps increase blood-flow to the brain, so if you find yourself getting a bit restless, get up and move around, even if it’s for five minutes. If your office allows it try a standing desk, which is said to improve posture and productivity.
16. Have a Daily Huddle
Daily huddles are a quick, informal team meeting that are designed to increase communication amongst team members and to get the most out of each person’s individual skills. There may be a project that’s better for one colleague rather than another, but this wouldn’t have come to light if there wasn’t a daily meeting. Try to encourage huddles to cut down internal email traffic, too.
17. Manage Your Inbox
Just the thought of an over cluttered inbox is giving me panic attacks! If you’re guilty of having thousands of emails hiding away in your inbox, filter through them and delete the unnecessary ones now. Having a well-managed inbox can do wonders for your productivity, and if you use sub-folders and categories you can easily manage your inbox.
18. Avoid Pointless Meetings
Meetings can be a big time-waster, and often have you questioning why you had just wasted 30 minutes of the day on something insignificant. Unless compulsory, avoid pointless meetings that aren’t relevant to your line of work. You can be focusing on tasks you have to complete and will probably work faster as most of your colleagues will be in the non-important meeting.
19. Diverge from Social Media Distractions
Social media is such an important part of our lives and is one of the biggest time-killer/distractions. While you’re at work resist the temptation of scrolling through your Instagram feed. Yes, I said it! You can set yourself two minutes to click on your Social Media (if your office permits it) after you’ve accomplished a big task. Some workers may need to go so far as to install anti-distraction programs like StayFocusd and Freedom, which block access to the most addictive parts of the internet for specified periods.
20. Focus on the End Result
Sometimes, however hard we try, we just hit a slump and feel fed-up. When you get to this point think of why you are doing your job, what you love about it, and where you want to progress to. Usually, the vision of larger responsibilities and a higher salary and title will give you the little kick that you need.
21. Work Remotely
Cutting out your daily commute, the stress that goes with it and the reduced sleep time can do wonders for your efficiency. If you have the opportunity to work remotely, doing this from time to time can really boost your creativity. You’ll have fewer distractions and will be in a comfortable environment which means that you can cut your task time down and get more items ticked off your list.
22. Take Naps
While most companies frown at you taking a nap at work, others like Google and Ben and Jerry’s encourage naps to stimulate productivity when you’re feeling exhausted to the point where your eyes are closing and even a cup of coffee doesn’t cut it. Vincent Walsh, professor of human brain research at University College London said that 'a nap of between 30 and 90 minutes in the afternoon could help companies improve productivity.'
23. Attend Training Seminars
When you have the opportunity, sign up for training seminars that are offered; a day away from the office in a new environment will refresh your mind and make you feel more motivated. You’ll most likely be given some new tips on how to manage your daily tasks and will be encouraged to try them.
24. Do the Boring Stuff First
Devote an hour in the morning to the monotonous tasks you’ve been avoiding for weeks now - that huge pile of filing on your desk isn’t going to magically disappear. If you leave these tasks until the end of the day, you won’t be doing yourself any favours. Quite the contrary, you’ll only make things worse for yourself, especially considering the fact that our productivity levels generally run dry after 3pm.
25. Watch Funny Videos
Everyone needs a little humour to pick them up and the internet is full of short clips that make us chuckle. If you’re finding it hard to concentrate, spend a few minutes watching something hilarious (try not to laugh too loud!) then get back to work.
26. Complete Small Tasks First
If you have any tasks that will take less than five minutes to complete, do them first! By doing so, you’ll be more encouraged to tackle and get through bigger tasks in less time. Similarly, you can break down big tasks into small ones. Let’s say that you have a 1,000-word article to write; you could set yourself 10 minutes to write 50 words and you will have it completed in no time.
27. Chew Some Gum
While evidence is mixed, some researchers say that chewing gum can improve memory, boost cognitive abilities and speed up performance. So, if you’re trying to combat procrastination and focus on the task at hand, why not try the gum method? On the bright side, if it doesn’t work, you’ll have minty fresh breath!
28. Have a Great Evening Routine
Having a great evening routine will help you feel prepared for the following day. To ensure you’re alert and full of energy, start an early bedtime routine that allows you to switch off from electronics, unwind and get enough sleep.
29. Have Set Times to Check Your Emails
Email alerts can be distracting! To help you stay more focused, have set times where you check your emails. If you work from Outlook, you can use their setting to stay offline during certain periods of time.
30. Schedule Meetings in the Afternoon
Let’s face it: most of us hit an afternoon slump and are most productive in the morning hours. To help boost productivity and collaboration, schedule meetings post-lunch for 30–40 minutes. The short break from your desk will also help you get back in the zone when you return.
What do you do to boost your workplace productivity? Tell us in the comments section below, along with any tips and tricks you’d like to share…