We’ve all had those days where Tuesday feels like Friday. 10 AM feels like 4 PM.
And as soon as we realize our mistake, we feel stuck in the day, unable to get anything done. It’s a lousy feeling.
And getting out of that rut can feel even harder. Some people mistake productivity for being busy.
But being busy just means focusing on too many tasks without actually getting any of those tasks done. That doesn’t seem productive, does it?
At its core, productivity is about achieving effective results in a short amount of time. So really, productivity is about working smarter, not harder.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to increase productivity at work simply by looking at your habits. Once you redefine your schedule, you’ll find that your focus improves and helps you save time to get bigger things done. Rest assured, this doesn’t mean scaling back on corporate entertainment to help fill the fun bucket at work!
The productivity tips below are guaranteed to help you achieve better results in the office. And you might even find yourself skipping home by the end of the day, fulfilled with what you were able to accomplish.
#1. Stop multitasking
Multitasking may seem like you’re getting more done at a single time. But you’ll actually spend less time on tasks overall when you focus on one at a time.
Research shows that multitasking can actually take a toll on employees’ productivity. And shifting between tasks can cost employees up to 40% of their time.
Yikes! That’s a lot of energy to waste.
When you multitask, your focus is constantly having to switch between tasks. Not only does this make it difficult to stay focused.
It can actually make you put in longer hours trying to get everything done. Think of it this way.
Distractions are already everywhere around us. Social media, your phone, online advertisements even.
But multitasking is like setting up distractions for you. You’ll be working on one project.
Then, shifting to another. After a while, the work goals for each will get jumbled in your head.
And you end up spending the hour worrying about getting everything done. So how about trying it this way instead?
Determine all of the tasks you need to fulfill. Then, prioritize which tasks need to be finished first.
Ask yourself, What’s urgent and what can be turned in by the end of the week? Or, What’s the first order of business that I can take off of my plate?
Making these minor adjustments will make your every day feel far more bearable. And who knows – maybe you’ll finally have enough time in the day to enjoy your accomplishments!
#2. Turn off unnecessary notifications
What do you do first thing in the morning? Look at your phone?
If you answered yes, you’re being honest. If you answered no, well, you’re just kidding yourself.
Checking our phones throughout the day has become a staple of everyday life. But at work, this seemingly minor habit could actually hinder our ability to get things done.
Employees who constantly check their phones end up limiting their own productivity. Sure, some business objectives might require the use of a phone.
But then one thing leads to another and employees are left looking at cute animal video compilations. I love a cute animal video just as much as anyone.
But your work environment should ideally be free of distractions. So make sure your phone isn’t one of them.
Get rid of any unnecessary notifications. I mean, do you really need to know what Sarah posted on Instagram in the middle of your workday?
You can check that when you get home. And if you’re really desperate to know, maybe look into that as a separate personal issue.
As addictive as our phones are, they also have tools to help us stay focused. Try using “Downtime” if you have an iPhone to limit any apps that could distract you.
Or, log out of any social media accounts you have to remain productive while at the office. Any other time, feel free to let notifications run your life.
But maybe don’t let them interrupt business meetings. Just a thought.
#3. Schedule out regular breaks
Taking breaks might seem counterintuitive. But giving your brain time to relax can actually increase your productivity and creativity overall.
You might be the type of employee who prefers to get a big task done all in one sitting. But did you know that can actually lead to a steady decline in your work performance?
Research has shown that employees perform better and more consistently when they take breaks. Just getting your eyes off of the screen can give your body a moment to recalibrate.
And you might even return to the task with new ideas on how to problem-solve. Some even say that taking a break to exercise helps to boost productivity.
And it won’t hurt to get the blood pumping if you’ve been sitting for too long! If you don’t believe me, just ask researchers from Florida State University.
They found that employees who work in 90-minute intervals are more productive than those who work beyond 90 minutes. According to them, that’s just a scientific fact!
So take advantage of this finding and schedule out regular breaks for yourself during the day. You may find yourself meeting your goals more readily when you make your mental health a priority.
#4. Set yourself deadlines
You might have a business management team that gives you a bunch of deadlines with little time to complete projects. Or, you might have a business management team that gives you a little too much autonomy with no deadlines at all.
Hopefully, you find yourself somewhere along the healthy middle of these two extremes. But wherever your team falls on the spectrum, setting yourself deadlines can actually make your life easier.
Giving yourself goals along the way can help you pinpoint where exactly you are in the project. And they can help you overall with time management.
Let’s say you have a business project or charity event that you know has been left rather open-ended. You know that a lot of things need to get done but you don’t exactly know where to start.
Try breaking that one big project down into smaller tasks. Then tick off each task as you go and watch the project complete itself.
For projects that need to get done in one day, some employees find looking at the clock to be helpful. Setting hour-long deadlines for certain tasks can help keep you on course throughout the day.
And it will automatically create a schedule for you to remain focused. The next time you find yourself stuck, whether on a team or not, use these tips to boost productivity and meet goals in a timely fashion.
#5. Be proactive, not reactive
There are only so many hours in a day, right? And what if those hours are spent just trying to put out fires for other employees?
Too often, the day can fly by simply because you were fielding calls or emails as they came in. But that leaves you little time to work on business you actually need to get done.
And before you know it, your day, which once held the promise of productivity, turns into employee after employee asking you for help with their problems. So how can you stop this from impacting your work?
Be proactive and prioritize. Obviously, you can’t anticipate every business issue that will arise that day.
But it’s probably not your responsibility to know everyone else’s business in the first place. If you have a plan of attack for your day, try your best to stick with it.
And if you can, schedule out an hour or two where you respond to emails. But don’t let the emails dictate your day as they come rolling in.
Even if you have the type of job where you’re unable to do this, always start your day with a pre-planned schedule. You may have to help employees here and there.
But don’t feel like you have to spend hours of work on someone else’s problem. Stay true to your work goals for the day.
And let another employee figure out their own issues. This might seem somewhat harsh and maybe a little less than team-oriented problem-solving.
And if you still think so, consider improving the communication skills in your workplace. But remember.
You have to prioritize yourself before you can help others. Besides, this may even help employees get their own act together!
#6. Limit meetings
How many employees do you spot dozing off during meetings? And how many of them actually feel like that meeting was well worth their time?
Unless you look forward to meetings for the sake of sleep, most meetings are really not that productive. You wait for all employees to arrive.
You spend time talking to other early employees about meaningless things like the weather. Then, you have to wait for a whole other hour to get back to the work that you could have finished thirty minutes ago.
This isn’t to say that meetings should go away altogether. But if a meeting is called to share information, consider sending that information through an online platform instead.
The technological tools at our disposal should not go to waste. And while having that human-to-human interaction is nice, it’s not always the greatest of ways to increase productivity.
It’s true that certain ideas must be discussed in person and not through online communication. But if you’re looking to limit the time-suck a typical meeting provides, try a standing meeting.
Yes, you read that right. A standing meeting, as in everybody stands.
Already, it sounds like a workout, doesn’t it? But that’s somewhat the point.
With all employees standing, the room will automatically be more invigorated. And productivity will be through the roof since employees won’t want to stand for longer than necessary!
#7. Declutter your desk
Let’s be real. It takes a special kind of employee to be able to function in chaos.
And sometimes, that chaos is on their desk. Papers are stacked up high and pens are strewn about everywhere.
Yet somehow, this employee manages to complete their daily business goals. But that’s a special employee.
And I’m not saying you’re not special. But odds are, you’ll feel much more productive when your space is clean and organized.
In fact, most employees do. Research has shown that employee productivity can increase up to 15% simply by having an aesthetically pleasing workspace.
It’s not necessarily that a plant or picture will help you achieve your daily business goals. But it’s more so that these enjoyable trinkets will increase your happiness while at work.
When you’re happy, your productivity tends to increase by default. Besides, having a picture of a loved one or a nice-smelling candle can give employees a sense of individuality when in the office.
If you think about productivity as linked with joy, then the work itself will no longer feel as stressful. So Marie-Kondo your desk to increase your productivity and only hold on to the things that spark joy in you!
#8. Let go of perfection
So far, all of these tips and tools to boost your productivity have been about changing your external environment. But what about your internal sense of productivity?
You might not think of it this way. But productivity is not just a result but a feeling as well.
This means that a productive employee will feel fulfilled by the end of the day. In contrast, stressed out and disgruntled employees will be dissatisfied with their lack of accomplishment.
But if you’re measuring productivity by perfection, then disgruntled is the only type of employee you’re going to get. So let your inner employee let go of the idea of perfection.
It’s an illusion. And that illusion could keep employees from discovering new and innovative solutions to the issues at hand.
Sometimes, being productive means completing the project, then moving on. The business of perfection will always leave employees feeling dissatisfied with their work.
Make it work!
Productivity in employees is not a one-size-fits-all regimen. In fact, each individual will probably have different business strategies to keep them focused and productive.
But hopefully, these tips can help your employees stay on task while giving them a sense of purpose. After all, productivity is not just a result. It’s a feeling.
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Adam Christing is a professional comedy magician, virtual MC, and the founder of CleanComedians.com. He is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and a popular comedian for corporate events, magician, and virtual speaker.