According to many sources, depending where you look, the average work week is around 34.5 hours. Many of you may be scratching your heads, and counting the number of hours you have already worked this week! Whatever the number, the point is, from time to time everyone get’s a little bored or has moments throughout the day where they can’t concentrate. So what little things can we do to increase our productivity at work?
1. Take a Nap
Yes please. According to abc news, napping for 30 minutes to an hour in the early afternoon increases a person’s productivity, alertness and sometimes even their mood. In European countries such as Spain and in many Latin American countries, an afternoon siesta is, in fact, considered normal. Even local shops close in the afternoon for a couple of hours, when it’s hard to get any business done. However as we can see from the graphic below, opinions differ. The Wall Street Journal suggests you either take a 20-minute nap or a 1hour 30-minute nap. Considering we are talking about improving productivity at work, probably best you stick with the 20-minute option.
2. Take Regular Breaks
This sounds too good to be true! I can now tell my boss that having a nap whilst taking regular breaks will increase my productivity. Not quite, we are talking short mental breaks. According to Servcorp taking short, regular two minute breaks, increased productivity by 11%. For employees who sit in front of a computer all day, a 15 second break taken every 10 minutes reduces fatigue by 50%.
(Image source – http://www.jimknaggs.com)
3. Monday Morning Prep Your Calendar
It’s Monday morning, you are struggling to settle down to work, all you are thinking about is the weekend you just had. Well a good way to get the started, is to prep your calendar for the week. Block off any times you want for completing tasks, work on some emails, whatever it is you need to get done. Doing this will stop people filling up your calendar with meetings and get you set for the week ahead.
4. Self-imposed deadlines
Working on a long term project or open-ended tasks can eat up a lot of your time. Granted there is always something to do or work on. Imposing deadlines will reduce stress and allow you to focus on other tasks. Scheduling a few hours a day or even one day a week will allow you to be even more productive.
(Image source – http://dixiecanyon.com)
5. The Two Minute Rule
Your to-do list is now 2 pages deep and you can’t bare to even glance at it. Entrepreneur Steve Olenski has a solution. If you see a task or action that you know can completed in two minutes or less, do it immediately. Completing the task right away actually takes less time than having to get back to it later.
(Image source – http://kingpinlifestyle.com)
6. Limit amount of meetings you have to attend
Another classic example of having no time to do anything because you have back-to-back-to-back meetings. Sure some meetings are extremely important to attend but some can be declined. Before booking your next meeting, ask yourself whether you can accomplish the same goals or tasks via email or phone. Tools such as Slack and Asana are great for team communication that helps reduce the number of meetings.
(Image source – www.nytimes.com)
7. The Daily Commute
If you live in Austin, for example, you are almost guaranteed to sit in some kind of traffic either to or from work. The radio is an option, but that can get repetitive so why not try something else? You could listen to a podcast that is work related, brainstorm new ideas or even schedule a work call for the journey home. Sometimes the commute to work is the only time you have to yourself throughout the day.
(Image source – http://www.theloop.ca)
8. Create To-Do Lists
If you record all your tasks in a to-do list, you can easily review the list and prioritize the most important tasks. Why waste time on trivial activities when there are important matters that need your attention? Your to-do list will help you focus your attention on the most important task of the moment.
9. Sleep and Exercise
Have you thought instead of that Jimmy John’s at lunch I should use my lunch break to walk, jog or hop on a treadmill. You’ll find yourself with a lot more energy when you return to the office. Also having those heavy lunches will reduce productivity especially in the afternoon. Make sure you get enough sleep and exercise when possible. This will improve mental sharpness, and make you feel more energetic.
10. Work environment
Mix it up a little bit. Spending 8 hours a day at the same desk is not fun. If your company allows, work in other areas of the building, go to a coffee shop or work from home. Even as simple as giving your desk a little clean can make a real difference.
Try these 10 little tips when you can and let us know if they help.