Productivity, or the lack of it, affects us all. Have you ever finished work not feeling productive? Well, how many times did you check your email that day? Sure, it only takes a minute, but if you’re like many people who can’t help but peek at it all day long, these minutes add up and take precious time from what you want to be doing: working productively.
With the constant lure of the Internet and the emergence of various high-tech gadgets, it is easy to get caught up in many time-wasting activities. Such things can eat up your productivity and make your work suffer.
Worse, it can adversely affect your work-life balance, forcing you to work on rest days just because you were not able to manage your time beforehand.
Before you let procrastination control your life, here are some simple hacks to bump up your productivity:
Productivity Starts the Night Before
Instead of hitting the sack right away, take 15 minutes off your time to prepare for the next day. It can be a simple to-do list, making sure to mark your priorities. Have your clothes for tomorrow prepared as well, rather than waste time going through your closet in the morning. If you pack your lunches, you can opt to place them in containers the night before.
Do the 5-Minute Habit
Having a morning ritual does wonders for your productivity. Before you get to work, spend five minutes meditating or visualizing the process that you will go through to achieve your daily goals. This may not help you fulfill them, but at least it can help you to follow through on those steps. Likewise, do a five-minute review of your work at the end of the day. Write down your accomplishments and note the things you need to improve on the next working day.
Divide and Conquer
Thinking about a huge project can overwhelm you, so why not break it down into mini-tasks that your brain can easily digest? If you have a deadline for a 2000-word article, set a goal of 250 words first, then take a five-minute break. This will give you a sense of accomplishment—no matter how small—and provide you with much-needed motivation to continue your humongous task.
Science says that people who take breaks more often than every hour are less productive than hourly break-takers but still more productive than those who work for longer than an hour with no breaks. The sweet spot may lie in the Pomodoro Technique, which suggests working for 25 minutes, taking a 5-minute break, and making sure to take a 15-minute break at least once every two hours.
No! to Multitasking
Multitasking is one of the biggest myths ever invented. People’s brains are not wired to switch effortlessly from one task to another, so a single diversion can cause you to lose as much as 40 percent of your work. Besides, immersing yourself and getting to full concentration takes uninterrupted time. Do yourself a favor and remove anything that would distract you, even if it means unplugging your streaming music.
Get Your Blood Pumping
Feeling lethargic? Get off your desk, take a walk, jog outside, and do some exercises—whatever it takes to get your blood pumping once again. These simple exercises increase productivity and give you a fresher perspective on your task at hand. On the other hand, you can also try doing power naps to refresh your brain. Just don’t oversleep.
Tame Your Email
If you’re the type of person who checks his email every five minutes, just stop it. It interferes with your work and distracts you. Set a schedule for checking email, preferably in the afternoon, after you’ve completed important projects. Using automated email reminders is also a good practice, especially if you don’t have much time. You should also keep your inbox free of clutter by deleting emails you no longer need or will never read.
Create an Environment
Interruptions are the bane of productivity. Although it is difficult to create a sound-proof environment, you can put your phone or tablet in silent mode and limit automatic notifications to the most important ones. Decor matters too. Pepper your workstation with red and blue colors since brain performance studies show that blue sparks creativity while red increases attention to details. Adding the right colors and reducing overall clutter can increase productivity.
Try Productivity Tools
Scheduling apps, timer apps, virtual notebooks—many widgets and apps can boost your productivity. Choose the ones that work best for you but be careful of wasting time on them. It’s easy to spend lots of time tinkering and customizing them, only to realize that the real purpose of these apps, namely to increase productivity, doesn’t materialize.
Set Rest Days
Finally, make your free day a sacred one. Don’t desecrate it by bringing work home, no matter how minuscule. Instead, use these days to relax and rejuvenate. Get a massage, spend time with your family, travel with your friends—all these things can help you unwind and prevent you from getting burned out.