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7 Ways to Boost Productivity During the Work Day
With so much going on in the world right now, it can be hard to stay focused during the work day. If you find yourself distracted, procrastinating, or not making good use of your time as the day wears on - no matter how ambitious you felt at the start of your day - these tips can help.
1. Track your time
Have you ever kept track of how long it takes you to do work-related tasks? We don’t mean glancing at the clock every half an hour or so, but actually using a timer and stopping it every time you’re not actively engaged in working on the task. It will probably come as a shock to you how much time it actually takes you to accomplish some tasks.
The good news is that once you’re aware of how long it takes you to write an email, complete a project plan, or balance your budget, you’ll become more efficient. And since you’ll have to stop the timer if you log onto Facebook or tab over to Twitter, you’ll realize how much time you have been spending on other things when you assumed you were working. There are many online tools that can keep track of your time, or you can simply use the timer on your phone and manually keep track of time spent on tasks on a spreadsheet.
2. Embrace HIIT
Speaking of timers, one of the most popular productivity “hacks” is to only work for short intervals of high intensity at a time.
There are several different and well-known variations of this method. One is the Pomodoro technique, which says you should spend 25-30 minutes working, then take a two to three minute break. After four of these sessions, you take a longer break. Others propose 90 minute intervals to mirror our REM sleep cycles, and because a study by a professor dedicated to expertise and superior performance revealed that the best performers (in a group of musicians, athletes, actors and chess players) practiced in uninterrupted sessions of no more than 90 minutes. Yet, some people find success with smaller bursts of only ten or even five minutes followed by a single minute break.
The amount of time is irrelevant - what’s most important is to find the interval that works for you. To do so, you need to actually test it. Tomorrow, try working in 25 minute intervals. The next day, try 90. The next, 10. Use a timer with a buzzer and take notes on the results. Then, stick with the method that worked best.
3. Make sure to move
The number one thing you could do for your health is lead an active lifestyle. Turns out, it’s even important to exercise while you work, not just before or after. According to a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Science, taking breaks to exercise can help improve productivity and people to work at their best.
Getting your blood pumping can help clear your head and regain focus, which is exactly what you need if you find yourself rereading the same sentence or daydreaming. All it takes is a walk around the office, a few jumping jacks, or some ab exercises right from your chair.
Bonus: exercise breaks also curb hunger and improve your mood.
4. Forget “multitasking”
...there’s no such thing. A lot of us (mostly women) think that we’re expert multitaskers. But scientists agree: attempting to work on multiple things at time is impossible, you’re really just switching between tasks quickly. It makes us inefficient, slow, and tired. It’s best to commit to finishing a single project before moving on.
5. Do not be disturbed
How many times has your day been derailed by a coworker’s ask or an “urgent” email? Repeat after us: Your time is YOURS. One of the best things you can do for your productivity is to be proactive instead of reactive and schedule a designated time to check emails and other notifications.
In this day and age, we are constantly bombarded by emails, texts, chats, post likes, comments… the list of possible distractions is endless. The idiom “in the zone” exists because there is such a thing as intense focus on the task at hand, and it’s harder than ever to achieve today because we all subject ourselves to an endless barrage of notifications that pull us out of the moment and direct our attention elsewhere.
It may be hard at first, but setting your phone on Do Not Disturb mode during the work day will completely revolutionize your productivity. Maybe signing off work group messaging apps like Teams or Slack isn’t possible, but when you’re on a deadline on working on important projects it's imperative to set an away message and mute notifications.
6. Take Advantage of Tools
Part of being productive is to be able to take a step back to strategize, delegate, and automate. There are a lot of tech solutions aimed at helping us navigate our work days better. Here’s our list of 10 free productivity tools that help you work smarter, not harder.
7. Set yourself up for success
Creating your own perfect work environment is an often overlooked yet vital key to working smart. It involves ergonomics, organization, and joy.
When you look around at a messy room, it actually creates anxiety and makes it difficult for you to concentrate. A clean space where everything is in its place, on the other hand, can actually energize you, says time management expert Julie Morgernsten.
Adding objects that visually please you, like plants, can increase productivity by up to 15 percent! So after organizing, pick some pictures, candles, flowers that you like to look at.
The most important thing for a successful work environment? A chair that allows you to enact the other 6 ways to boost productivity during the work day.
Study after study has shown that sitting is literally killing us. Yet standing desks, yoga balls, and other alternatives also come up short. The only way to sit successfully is to choose a chair that was born of the realization that sitting for work has wrecked our backs, our posture, and our ability to focus.
The BackStrong C1 was designed to let you move while you sit, therefore protecting you from the dangers of being sedentary and allowing you to reap the benefits of increased energy and productivity.
Learn more about the BackStrong C1 and how it can help you make the most of your work day.