By definition, productivity in the workplace is key to professional success. After all, if you aren’t getting anything done at work, then why are you even there?
Of course, there are plenty of factors that lead to decreased productivity. Everything from lack of sufficient sleep, to having too many tasks on your plate, to getting distracted by social media. Productivity is as important as ever, but some aspects of today’s world hold us back from being as productive as we could be.
It’s helpful to have some tricks up your sleeve that you can pull out when the anti-productivity monster starts rearing its ugly head. Here are ten of our favorite hacks that can help you boost your productivity in the workplace.
- Log out of social media. Social media is largely considered the major “time suck” of the current generation. It’s far too easy to tell yourself you’ll take a “quick” break to check messages or notifications, and then before you know it, you’ve wasted half an hour…or more. Try logging out of your social media accounts at the beginning of your workday. That way, when you have that automatic response to take a peek, that login screen will act as a reminder that you should focus on more productive endeavors.
- Block time for email. Email is a sneaky distraction, because often, it is actually part of your job. That said, pulling yourself out of a task to check your email is going to hinder your productivity, and it could take a while to get back in the swing of things. Instead of checking periodically throughout the day, block off specific times during which you read and respond to emails. Depending on your job, you may need several of these blocks, and that’s okay. The important thing is that email won’t be pulling you away from other tasks.
- Turn off notifications. It’s much too tempting to check your phone when that little ding lets you know that you have a message, comment, like, or new follower. Take the temptation away completely by turning off notifications. It’s easy to do through your phone’s settings, and it will make a huge difference in your productivity.
- Wear headphones. Do you find yourself easily distracted by noises around you? Headphones are the perfect solution. Whether you use them to listen to music or white noise, or you use noise-cancelling headphones that offer complete silence, avoiding chatty coworkers’ conversations or the construction noises outside could help you be more productive.
- Create a comfortable work environment. Similarly, you want to set your whole work space up for success. If your chair is uncomfortable, get a new one, or try moving to a standing desk for a bit. If your computer screen hurts your eyes after a while, invest in some blue light-blocking glasses. If it’s always too cold in your office, keep a sweater or blanket in your desk drawer. Use multiple monitors to create a more efficient computer setup. Whatever you do, make sure it makes you comfortable. Nothing is more distracting than a hurting back or freezing fingers.
- Choose an accountability partner. Sometimes, you just need a little help to keep you moving in the right direction. Find someone that is willing to check in on you periodically to make sure you’re staying on task. (Ideally, you would do the same for them.) This could be someone in your office, or (if you work alone or don’t get along well with the people in your office), it could be a friend at another company. As long as they’re able to check your progress from time to time, it should help.
- Eat the frog. This is a principle that supposedly originated with Mark Twain. The idea is that if it’s your job to eat a frog, you should do it first thing in the morning, so it’s over and done with. Applying this to productivity would mean that you get your most unpleasant tasks out of the way first. Not only will this give you a little morale boost to start your day, but it will keep you from dragging your feet and possibly falling behind.
- Follow the two-minute rule. Here’s something to try if you find small tasks piling up throughout your day: if a task comes your way that can be accomplished in two minutes or less, do it right away. Don’t put off quick email responses (during your designated email time, of course); send that client survey now, before you forget; order extra copy paper as soon as you notice you’re running low, and so on. Getting small tasks done immediately will help ease your overall mental burden.
- Trim the fat. If you want to be truly productive, it’s important to learn how to prioritize. This means that from time to time, you are going to have to say no to things, cancel meetings, or delegate tasks. Learning how to do this quickly and efficiently will help you be more productive on the tasks that really matter.
- Try the pomodoro technique. The idea behind the pomodoro technique is that humans are most productive for short bursts of time. Most pomodoro followers have a 20-25 minute period of complete focus and productivity, followed by a short (about 5 minute) rest. After repeating that cycle a couple times, they earn a longer break. If you think this might work for you, there are pomodoro timers available through apps and websites. Find one that looks good to you, and give it a shot!
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Unlocking your own personal productivity might take some trial and error, but these hacks should give you a strong starting point. Try any or all of them, and watch your productivity improve!
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