Productivity is often touted as the one of the most important elements in determining success in the workplace. However, between distractions in the office, changes in personal health and wellbeing and different tasks that need to be done, finding that optimal level of productivity and staying there throughout the year is much easier said than done.
So as professionals, what can we do to stay productive? Take some time to find some effective productivity techniques that fit your working style and personality, keeping in mind that it might be different depending on the project you are working on and even factors like the time of day.
If you’re looking for new inspiration, here are a few productivity tips for your day to day in the office which can then translate into productive weeks and ultimately, a productive year.
1. Do the easy stuff first.
Any period of productivity has to start somewhere. So to help build up your momentum before tackling a big task, look at completing a few easy tasks, such as answering an email, clearing some administrative work or producing a quick solution. By doing tasks that seem simple and easy, you switch your mindset into work mode and it can help you get your mind working towards the bigger projects. Plus, it feels good to cross a few things off the list, and you’ll be more likely to keep the same level of productivity after that.
2. Block out time in your calendar.
In the office, distractions such as meetings, phone calls and other last-minute interruptions can slow down productivity. Try blocking out an hour or two in your calendar, get some noise-cancelling headphones and get down to it - without anything around to interrupt. Additionally, when faced with a big task or project, it can be more effective to plan exactly when you are going to work on it - and for how long.
3. Use technology: find tools and apps to help.
Search for “productivity apps” online and you’ll find a large list of apps that help with all aspects that go into productivity, such as organisation, to-do lists, limiting social media, timing productive work and generating ideas. Explore this technology and use the apps that truly add to your day. One view on procrastination inversely links happiness with the tendency to procrastinate, so maybe it’s worth checking out these apps designed to boost your happiness in the workplace.
4. Forget about multitasking.
Studies done throughout history have shown that as much as we would like to think so, our short-term memory just isn’t that good. This means that we can only process a certain amount of information at one time, leading to the conclusion that multitasking doesn’t work nearly as well as focusing on one thing at a time.
Remember that time you blocked out in your calendar? Use it to focus entirely on one task at hand, ignoring emails and other projects that need your attention. By focusing entirely on one thing, you can get into the state of flow and can probably produce better, higher quality work than if you were trying to do several things at once.
5. Find your inspiration
What motivates you? What are the parts of your work that really do inspire you? On a micro level, what about this particular project speaks to those larger things that motivate you? If you are really having trouble starting, take time to seek out the why behind the project - and use that to keep going if you’ve come to standstill.
6. Take plenty of breaks
It may seem counterintuitive, but in many ways, taking more breaks can in turn make you more productive when you get back to work. This has to be done carefully of course - you might find yourself three hours later down a rabbit hole on Google. However, taking some downtime to actually stop thinking about the work at hand can make you more productive when you return to it. Take a quick walk around the block for fresh air, do a mindfulness meditation at your desk, or chat with a colleague about another project you’re working on together.
Being productive while working from home
While working from home, finding that optimal state of productivity can be even more daunting. There are many distractions in the office, but even more at home with household chores, other family members and a constant temptation to get snacks from the kitchen. If you, like many at the moment, are working from home, here are a few tips for finding productivity from your home office.
Make your home office comfortable
Set up your home working station in a comfortable spot with a high-backed chair and at a desk or a table. You will be spending hours sitting at this spot, just like in the office so make sure it’s ergonomic and comfortable - now isn’t quite the time to spread out on the bed.
The home environment is full of distractions, and it can be easy to put off a big task in favor of taking care of small things around the house. As much as you can, when working from home, try to remove the distraction. This may mean setting up your home office in one room and staying there. Think about noise cancelling headphones, choosing a room without a TV and away from other family members (as much as possible!).
Stay connected with your team
Communicate with your team throughout the remote work day, even if it’s just a quick instant message in the morning and an email in the evening. Knowing that other people are working with you can help keep you focused on the task at hand, and find a rhythm to be productive.
Organise your day
To be productive at home, try making a list every morning of everything that you want or need to accomplish that day. Block out set times for different projects and as much as you can, stick to that schedule. Without the structure of being in an office, making a schedule and sticking to it can help increase productivity.
Whether you’re in the office or at home, use these tips to make sure you make the most of each day - and find that productivity that comes from being totally immersed and interested in the task at hand.
Looking for more productivity tips? Have a read through this collection of advice on productivity.