Productivity is the measure of how much you accomplish – not how busy you are. Basically, having a productive mindset is all about approaching things with intention. Success comes when you channel some serious self-awareness and figure out what habits, activities, etc. allow you to produce your best work. And when you’re producing your best work, you’ll be happier so it’s really just a big positive, happy snowball of effects. This post is going to highlight not 1, not 2, but 11 workplace habits that are proven to increase your productivity.
1. Limit Distractions
If we aren’t careful, our phones can easily turn from useful tools into tiny monsters of distraction and mayhem. Having said that, a quick scroll on Facebook or playing 5 minutes of a game can actually rejuvenate your brain and help with productivity. So how can you find a balance? The secret lies in setting limits and keeping distractions to a minimum. Timers are your best friend when it comes to productivity. Set the timer on your phone for 10 minutes and just allow yourself to relax. Scroll social media to your heart’s content. Read funny memes. Play back your mom in Words with Friends. And then stop once the timer goes off. Return to work and limit distractions until your next scheduled break.
A great method to help you reduce mindless activities would be to keep track of your work-related activities for a few weeks. There are lots of great templates out there or you can just use your work calendar. Record your daily activities and then take time daily or weekly to analyze any wasted time. From there you can make plans to improve by using timers, scheduling set breaks throughout your day and limiting distractions.
2. Take a Productivity Test
We are all probably aware of what our distractions are when it comes to productivity, but do we know our strengths? What hours of the day are you most productive? What fuels your productivity? Positivity fuels productivity while negativity can send you in a downward spiral. Here’s a great test to help you understand your strengths. There are so many tests like this one on the internet so spend time each week taking a new one and learning from the results.
It’s amazing that we live in a time where we can essentially do all of our work from the small device in our hands. However, this constant access can make it hard to disconnect and recharge. So moral of the story, it’s important to consciously take time to step away from technology and decompress. If you get home from work at around 6, block the next hour off as tech-free time. When you return to your phone that evening, don’t check your work email or apps… take a break. It’s also important to disconnect during the work day. Most companies expect an 8 hour work day, however studies show that people perceive an ideal work day as less than that. This means you might have to power through to reach that 40 hour work week. If that’s the case, it’s critical to disconnect throughout your day in order to recharge.
4. Move Your Body
This is personally my favorite method of improving productivity. It’s basically the same idea as standing up and walking to the water cooler, but it’s taking things a few steps further (literally). Studies have shown that daily exercise is one of the best ways to lead a healthier and happier life. You’ll benefit from increased memory, concentration and mental sharpness. An interesting study from Psychology Today suggests that those who make it a priority to exercise, earn more than those who don’t. Now this doesn’t mean you have to be hitting an hour long spin class every day. Maybe you just start with 3 times a week and focus on getting your heart rate up. Workplace success and exercise definitely are linked together.
Another side to this whole move your body thing is using exercise throughout the day to boost your productivity. I love to go on a 15 minute walk, get some fresh air, and then come back feeling completely refreshed. More and more companies are incorporating yoga rooms, treadmills, stationary bikes and more, with the intent of improving productivity.
5. Draw on Outside Motivation
If you’re feeling a little blah or stuck in a rut, guess what? There are people out there whose entire jobs revolve around pumping people up. Life coaches, motivational speakers, self-help authors are all existing to help you be your best self. Listen to their advice throughout the day via podcasts, Audible or YouTube. Their positivity will give you the boost you need to pick things back up. TED talks are another great resource for learning more about yourself and the world around you.
6. Just Say No
At some point in all of our lives, we (for some reason) learned that it’s bad to say “no.” Psych – it’s actually okay. In fact, it’s good. Have you ever said yes to a project so as to not disappoint someone? Even if it didn’t line up with your work objectives or goals? We’ve all been there. The best way to combat being too much of a yes man is by having a solid purpose in mind, and only saying yes to things that relate to that purpose. Obviously, you still want to be kind and helpful to those around you. But your time is valuable and should be filled with things that really matter.
Here are 4 great tips on how to determine when you should say no and how to best do it.
– Identify the mandatory tasks. Don’t waste your time trying to get out of doing things that must be done. Instead, accept that there are some things that you simply have to do no matter how much you don’t want to, and get them done.
– Analyze each request that is presented to you against your current priorities and projects.
– Be up front. If someone requests you to do something and you know there is no chance that you will follow through, don’t waste your time or theirs by pushing them off. Tell them right away that you are unable to help.
– Remain polite. Even though you are refusing to help someone, try to end the conversation on a positive note so they are not left with the impression that you are always unwilling to help.
7. List it Out
Don’t rely on your brain to remember all of the tasks and responsibilities you have. That’s too much to ask of one brain. Instead, make a list. Actually, make multiple lists for different areas of your work. Keep lists for various projects. Break down large lists into smaller lists. Make daily lists addressing the day’s most urgent items. Edit your lists. Make top priority lists. Keep lists of your routine responsibilities that you have to check off every day. Lists are your friend.
8. Block Out Time
One of the best ways to increase productivity is by blocking out time throughout your day. It’s a tried and true method to help you avoid unhelpful multitasking and distractions. By planning out your time, you gain control over your day and can work accordingly. One of our favorite time-management methods is called the Pomodoro Technique. Basically, you break all your tasks down into 25 minute blocks of time. Between each break you give yourself a 5 minute break. And after completing 4 Pomodoro blocks, you give yourself a 20-30 minute break. Here’s a 5 step overview of how to implement the Pomodoro technique:
- Choose your task and total time allotted to accomplishing/working on it.
- Set a timer to 25 minutes.
- Work on that set task for 25 minutes, avoiding all distractions.
- Recharge by taking a 5 minute break.
- Complete 4 Pomodoros and then take a 20-30 minute break. You deserve it!
Some of the benefits to incorporating the Pomodoro Technique are: Getting rid of too much multitasking, increasing your focus, accomplishing more, avoiding the perfectionist mindset, building your concentration and decreasing your stress levels.
Steven Sande, author of the Unofficial Apple Weblog, is a big fan of the technique, stating, “Sometimes I couldn’t figure out how to organize a single day in my calendar, simply because I would jump around to all sorts of projects and never get even one of them accomplished.”
Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal is another proponent, commenting, “It eased my anxiety over the passing of time and also made me more efficient; refreshed by breaks, for example, I halved the total time required to fact-check a column.”
9. Always Be Learning
A smart person once said “the more you learn, the more you know.” Very wise. It’s easy to think that your official education stops after graduation. Instead, change your mindset and try to incorporate learning into your daily life. Learn new skills that might help you in your career. Schedule time each day to read books, blogs and other industry related material.
10. Let it Go Like Elsa – Don’t Micromanage
It’s so important to establish solid relationships with your team members. There’s nothing worse than a fellow employee or manager that can’t seem to let go of control. These are some awesome tips that can help you become a great, non-micromanaging leader. And even if you’re not in an official leadership position, following these tips will help you become a better employee.
– A good leader inspires and encourages team members to do their best work by assigning tasks that are in line with their individual strengths. It is best to acknowledge these strengths when assigning tasks so people feel encouraged in their ability to be successful.
– Leaders also set clear expectations about what is needed so their subordinates know what their missions are, and feel free to come forward with questions.
– Leaders create a vibrant and positive working environment to help team members do their best work. This should include giving praise where it is due, and even offering rewards to people who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. Always trust that your team is doing their assigned job to prevent yourself from slipping into a micromanagement role.
11. Ditch the Perfectionist Mindset
Mistakes happen. You’ll make mistakes. Your team will make mistakes. Instead of dwelling on it, think about how you can avoid the problem in the future. Apologize to your team, tell them you’re working on improving. And forgive yourself.
Hopefully after reading this, you’ve picked up on 1 or 2 workplace habits you’d like to implement in your life. And as always, feel out the form on this page with any questions you might have about Lift Local or marketing. We’d love to chat!