Productivity can change the game for any type of work. But, achieving high daily productivity levels can be a challenge. There are days when you get in the flow, working efficiently and smoothly, leaving you with a sense of pride at the end of the day. Then there are times when it feels like you just can’t get started.
Sometimes there are distractions, and other days it feels like there’s no solid reason why you’re struggling. Instead of feeling stilted and stuck at work, try out these activities to help improve your workplace productivity.
Boosting Productivity at Work
If you’re frustrated, tired or simply can’t get yourself into a state of productivity, it may be time for a break. A 2018 Gallup survey found two-thirds of American workers report being burned out at work, which leads to a drop in employee engagement and increased turnover. Give yourself a break and come back later refreshed and ready to work.
Distracted and annoyed with yourself that you can’t seem to buckle down today? Get up, walk around the office and stretch your legs. Take a moment to get your blood flowing, even just by pushing your chair back from your desk and stretching your arms and legs.
Answering emails while on the phone, chatting with a friend online and working on a spreadsheet is probably getting in your way. For years now studies have shown multitasking has an adverse effect on productivity. Give yourself a much-needed sense of relief and close out those dozens of tabs on your browser. Then, turn your full attention to the task you’re meant to be focusing on.
Take a lunch break.
A survey by Tork showed that, of those who take a lunch break every day, 78 percent feel they are “as effective and efficient,” as they would like to be. That’s compared to 71 percent of those who don’t take a lunch break each day. Enjoy a few minutes and have lunch without checking your email.
Getting Out of the Office
A change of scenery may be just what you need to increase your productivity at work. Get out of the office, whether for a few minutes or on your lunch break so you can get your head away from your computer. Come back refreshed and ready to go.
Take a walk.
A Stanford study showed taking a walk can improve workplace creativity. Take a spin around the block to shake the cobwebs off a tired brain or to get away from the frustrations of a stressful workplace to reset.
Head to the gym.
If you have a gym in or near your workplace, boost your productivity by using your lunch break to jump on the treadmill or spend a few minutes on a stationary bike. Or, if your schedule doesn’t allow for this during work hours, start your day with a quick workout before heading to the office to get body and brain ready for productivity.
When you picture meditation, you may envision long periods of time spent sitting, dedicated to clearing the mind. That’s an option, of course, and a useful way to center yourself in a hectic world. But, if you don’t have that kind of time, even a quick two-minute meditation can help you reset. There’s no shortage of apps that guide you to meditate at your desk, while on mass transit, or while siting outside.
Productivity Means Working Smarter, Not Harder
Track your productivity levels over the course of a week. Ask yourself which days were more productive - the days you spent chained to your desk, nose pressed against the screen, or the days when you took a more efficient, even relaxed approach? Take these extra tips to work smarter, not harder.
Establishing daily routines can cut down on what’s known as “decision fatigue,” in which the brain makes lower quality decisions over time as it’s forced to make more decisions. For example, a simple task such as standing in front of your closet each morning deciding what to wear takes up decision-making space in your brain, which means your brain will become tired of making decisions more quickly. Lay out your clothes the night before instead. Or, order the same kind of coffee each day, think through your lunch ahead of time or head to the gym on the same days every week.
Set a timer for 25 minutes and try to get as much done as you can during that time, followed by a five-minute break. This is called the Pomodoro Technique, and it's certainly helped me increase productivity. It also shed light on just how much time I spend agonizing over sending a single email.