The business world is moving at a dizzying pace. In order to keep up with its many demands, it is absolutely vital to aim for productivity and efficiency.
Whether you manage a business, work for a corporation, or a self-employed freelancer, you’re always on the quest for ways to increase productivity.
However, you also know well that office productivity is a fragile thing– seemingly beset on all sides by distractions. And sometimes, ensuring that you’re primed for productivity is a simple task you forsake.
Here are some simple hacks to help you be more organized and progressive even when you are extremely busy.
Productivity Hack #1: Cut out distractions
Gossip, Noise, and Hunger— These are the most common examples of the biggest productivity killers.
We’ve all been there! We’re trying to get things done but distractions tempt us one after the other. Working in an office, your productivity depends on the work environment around you. It’s almost impossible to stay focused on completing tasks when there is a big number of office distractions.
While it’s a great way to take a break, talk with colleagues, play games, or boost inspiration, it’s also an actionable way to lose track of time and waste it on non-work duties.
If you find yourself spending a lot of time NOT working, it may be because your distractions are out in the open where you’re tempted too easily.
Fortunately, there are several approaches you can try to ensure that your productivity is the best it can be.
Some may choose a simple solution such as locking a phone in the drawer if it eats up a lot of their working time; whereas others may invest in their own coffee maker that limits the number of times they spend on coffee breaks. Furthermore, if you’re easily distracted with outside noises, you may start to consider investing in a decent pair of noise-canceling headphones.
Whatever method you use, you can be sure that it’s for the best, and it will be reflected in your work moving forward.
Productivity Hack #2: Optimise your workspace
Everyone works differently. Some people need the structure of their own desk in the office to do their best work. Others prefer to hop around, going from their desk to a conference room or other vacant area. Many now prefer to handle their business remotely, whether it’s from a coffee shop, library, or their own homes.
Whatever works for you, optimising your workspace can truly make a difference in your productivity. In our previous article about ways to make your workspace less stressful, we have mentioned a numbers of studies say that a well-designed workspace can increase your productivity by 20%.
The physical environment is the number one factor in determining an employee’s ability to focus and stay focused. So, here’s a list of ways to optimise your workspace.
The best ergonomic solutions will often improve productivity. By designing a job to allow for good posture, less exertion, fewer motions and better heights and reaches, the workstation becomes more efficient.
In fact, leading companies are integrating ergonomics deeply into all of their operations. So if improving productivity is one of your company’s core business objectives, start investing now for ergonomics.
You can start in an ergonomic chair that is comfortable and adjustable; or if you’re not ready to buy a new chair, try using supportive cushions on your seat for back support. Clearly, there are varieties of options on how you can improve the quality of your workplace.
To guide you further, check out these Ideas for a more productive and ergonomic workspace.
Lighting can be a big issue for productivity. Too much can make you antsy, and too little may make you drowsy.
You can start by investing in a light therapy lamp or an ambient lamp to decrease eye-strain at your desk. Also, you can try the blue light, or high-temperature lighting which has been found to improve concentration by nearly 37%. (source)
But if that’s not possible, you can just arrange your office to get the most natural light on your workspace without getting it directly on your screen. An example of a great office is the one that allows plenty of natural light in, without glaring up your computer screen.
Office temperature may not seem like a high priority, compared to all the things your company has to deal with on a daily basis, but it’s clearly in every business’ best interest to keep workers as comfortable as possible to maintain high levels of productivity.
People work best when they’re at a comfortable temperature. What’s comfortable varies by person, but experts recommended working in air-conditioned office environments between 70 and 73 degrees Fahrenheit. (source)
Keep Snacks Handy
Always stay full and hydrated!
But sometimes, when you’re distracted, it’s easy to ignore hunger cues. Going too long without food can lead to discomfort, excessive hunger, and inattention. To avoid this, select a few nutritious snacks to keep on hand, like fruits, nuts, granola bars, and cheese.
Also, aside from taking a cup of coffee to fuel up your energy, you may also consider having a moderate sip of wine during your busy hours. There are some health benefits to mild alcohol consumption. It serves as a way to release the tension in your body and offers an easy way to relax.
Get a plant
Plants don’t just look great—they also circulate oxygen and alleviate stress on the job. Install an indoor garden for the office, or pick up a few plants for your own desk.
Office plants have been proven to boost productivity by as much as 15%. In fact, a University of Exeter study found that plants improve concentration and employee engagement with their work, both cognitively and emotionally. Not many know that placing a plant in their office can work for wonders for productivity, especially when you consider that plants can improve a person’s wellbeing by 47% and enhance productivity by 45%.
Improve air quality
Studies suggest that clean air impacts more than just your health. A National Research Council of Canadastudy found that higher carbon dioxide concentrations and levels of small particle pollution are associated with lower workplace satisfaction.
In fact, according to a study, bad air quality can reduce productivity by as much as 9% — a hefty number, considering the fix is so easy. Improving air can be as simple as opening windows, especially if you can create cross ventilation.
Alternatively, invest in an air purifier or humidifier to keep your office space fresh.
Productivity Hack #3: Set Up a Calendar
Let’s be real – we all like to dilly dally. Which is why STRICTLY setting a due date or a deadline for your work is important. This is a very common method to improve productivity at work, but you’d be surprised at how many people struggle due to the lack of one.
It will help you get things done in a timely manner. The sense of urgency will subconsciously make you work a little faster than before. Plus, you will eliminate unnecessary pressure.
Creating a schedule doesn’t have to take a lot of time. All you need is 10 minutes every night (or Sunday, for weekly basis) to prep your schedule. Whether you use a paper calendar or a digital app, having an agenda for the week or day will keep you on track.
Take note that this may not necessarily make everything go as planned, but at least you are well prepared.
Productivity Hack #4: Update your to-do-List
This seems pretty obvious, but do you find yourself writing things down multiple times, trying to coordinate across multiple apps, and still not getting your work done?
Then you need a proper system to update your to-do-lists.
Some may feel that the secret to productivity is to multi-task, but nothing could be further from the truth. Concentrating too much on a series of different projects can mean that the full focus is taken off each particular project.
Contrary to the multi-tasker’s creed, you’ll actually get more tasks done by doing them individually as well as you’ll do it quicker and with fewer mistakes and less rework. That is clearly why you need a to-do-list to improve your productivity at work.
To-do-lists come in all shapes and sizes depending on what works for the individual. (I’m not just referring to cluttered memo and sticky notes though)
Some research suggests writing information by hand helps us remember it better. But if you last picked up a pen years ago, then there’s a huge range of digital apps that can help you create personal to-do-lists.
Just make sure to be more specific and make actionable plans.
Overstuffing your lists causes a continuous thrum of worry in your head, and this constant disquiet has negative effects in your productivity. In fact, 41% of to-do tasks are never completed. (source)
To guide you further, here’s an article that could really help you: 8 Expert-Backed Secrets to Making the Perfect To-Do List
Productivity Hack #5: Declutter your workspace
During a busy day, it’s not unusual for a workspace to become cluttered. However, simply allowing the clutter to build up can mean that you have a chaotic atmosphere to work in, which is hardly the best when it comes to productivity.
It’s easy for even the most organised people to let their desks get cluttered by pile of papers, food wrappers, gadgets, knick-knacks, and everything else that makes its way into the office. Each of these things slows you down, wastes your time and energy, and stresses you out.
In fact, studies show that productivity and income decline when mess and chaos rise. Furthermore, it tells us that an average person spends 4.3 hours a week searching for papers while executives waste 1 hour per day searching for missing information.
Taking some time to declutter your workspace allows you to start the next day afresh, and ensure you’re not distracted by a series of paperwork and empty coffee cups.
Productivity Hack #6: Listen to music
It’s been said that listening to music while working gives you a boost in productivity, creativity and memory retention. In fact, A study found 88% of workers were more accurate when listening to music, and improved productivity by 58%.
Although, music’s effect on productivity varies by task. For example, if you need to chew away at some menial and tedious work, play something upbeat. If you need to brainstorm and be creative, use relaxing music. However, tasks that require concentration, like writing, are better performed with instrumentals for ambience so you won’t be as tempted to stop and sing along with the lyrics.
On the flip side, working in a loud and noisy environment can be distracting, which can take a toll to your overall productivity. Small changes like adjusting volume may help you be more productive when moving from task to task throughout the day.
Keep up to date with tips to manage your office refreshments and snacks!
Productivity Hack #7: Embrace Office Automation
The company you work for –like all modern businesses – runs on technology. When your systems are down, business stops, thus, kills overall productivity.
One of the easiest ways to improve productivity is to let machines and software do the work for you. Unlike humans, who get worn down by repetitive tasks, machines and software can sift through files and documents without blinking.
The idea of office automation is to offer your employees flexibility and reliability. If your office systems aren’t automated yet, it’s worth considering adopting a few that bring your workplace up to speed.
You may have big role with a lot of pressure, but it’s easier with tools that help you automate your tasks. For example, you may leave repetitive work to your machines and software and creative work to your team. Not only will you be able to work faster, you’ll be able to have more time and freedom to come up with new thoughts and fresh ideas.
Office automation adds efficiency to your workflows, but you need to look beyond emails and digital forms to really embrace it.
If you are looking for an office automation solution that can take your company workflows to the next level, check out this list for the coolest office automation software in the market today: Top office automation tools
Productivity Hack #8: Shorten Meetings
While meetings can be vital to your business, they have a nasty habit of expanding to fit the available time slot, even if those extra conversations don’t provide value.
Before you schedule a meeting that pulls everyone away from what they’re doing, ask yourself if it’s truly essential that everyone get together to talk. To avoid the meeting version of scope creep, cut the time by 25%. You’ll still tackle the important topics but be less likely to have unnecessary discussions.
Send out a clear agenda beforehand and be sure to stick to it. If you’ll realistically only need 30 or even 15 minutes to cover what you need to, schedule that shorter block of time.
Invite only the people for whom the issue at hand is truly relevant. These principles will help you run meetings that enhance productivity and show value for everyone’s time.
Lastly, if getting together in person isn’t completely necessary, consider eliminating the meeting entirely. An email will do or consider using web conferencing softwares where you can talk virtually. Your staff or your team will thank you.
To avoid unproductive and unnecessary meetings, check out: 12 Secrets To a Super Productive Meeting You Should Know
Productivity Hack #9: Take a needed break
Becoming more productive doesn’t mean working all the hours possible. In fact, if you’re not giving yourself enough breaks throughout the day, then you could be doing more harm than good in the long-term.
The breaks you take could be something as simple as sipping a cup of tea, to immersing yourself in a book for half an hour, or taking a round of your favourite cellphone game. This may seem wasteful in the first instance but taking a break can help refresh your mind and ensure your complete focus is on your work for the duration.
The tendency to overwork is rife. However, having too much work does not mean working efficiently, if anything, it only damages productivity. Part of the problem is sheer tiredness. As you might expect, when fatigue rises, productivity tends to fall. (source)
When you start working upwards of 50 hours a week, you start losing time for quality sleep and rest in your life. After all, you have other, personal responsibilities to handle.
Productivity Hack #10: Stay Motivated
All too often, productivity is severely dampened simply because employees aren’t motivated at all. When you lose your motivation, you lose the ability to stay productive.
STAY MOTIVATED—This seems pretty simple but we all know that we can’t always stay a step ahead.
So at least once a week, check in with yourself by assessing how you’re feeling, and then make plans to remedy any negative emotions that may be lingering. Self-care is important for productivity, so don’t continually neglect yourself in the name of getting more done at the office.
There are numbers of motivational strategies you can read and hear out there. But do whatever the hell makes you happy. These aren’t hard-and-fast rules; they’re just hacks for productivity that worked for most people.
Experiment until you find what works for you. The important thing is that you’re happy, relaxed and motivated in your workspace, and that you never stop trying to make it better, because it’ll never really be a 100% optimal place to work.
Lastly, as a manager, you are in a position to significantly influence the atmosphere in your workplace, so be positive! If you can create an environment that people actually enjoy working in, they’ll be more likely to give you their very best.
Remember that employee motivation requires a company culture that is dynamic and nurturing. Your motivation is vital in keeping your company alive and thriving.
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