When we work, we want to make the most out of our work day. This means maximizing our productivity allowing us to do more work in less time, which simply translates into more free time. Alternatively, being highly productive can mean better incentives at work – higher pay, and other options that can serve the purpose of maximizing our motivation and make us better at what we do.
Many of us however suffer from occasional or chronic issues that prevent us from becoming our most productive selves. These issues can lead to longer working hours, taking work home and an inability to just turn off.As a result, work related stress will seep into every aspect of your life effecting both our mental and physical wellbeing. Ultimately leading to burn out.
Fortunately, no matter whether you work from home or office, there are many ways to help you become more productive and to maximize your time. Some of these are simple changes we can make to our daily routines while others are efficient techniques meant to increase productivity.
We divided these tips into three groups –
1) Changes to help those working from home
2) Changes to help at the office
3) Changes to help everyone.
Productivity tips for those working from home
Create office space and use it exclusively for work
Working from home carries the risk of becoming less productive because we, naturally, do not tie our house with work. This is especially true for all those freelancers who can really get into trouble if they don’t create a sort of office space and use it exclusively during work hours.
Your workspace can be any size. It is simply enough to place a work desk in a corner and then use that nook exclusively for work. This will make you more productive because once you enter this workspace your brainwill know that there is work to be done and you will slip into worker mode and tackle what needs to be done.
Over time you should build a daily routine, strengthening the bond between this home office and work-related tasks. Ultimately you should experience it as an independent workspace that won’t be seen as part of your home but as a separate entity where work is done.
It’s worth noting that some people simply need to reserve a whole room and use it as a workspace. If you’re one of them and are lucky enough to have the space, we advise you to do just that.
If you have roommate(s), that don’t work or work on flexible hours like you, just lock the door to your room. This way you will isolate yourself from them and become less prone to taking unnecessary breaks.
Use headphones or earplugs during work
If your workspace is in the corner of a shared room, it can prove difficult to cut yourself off from others. Using noise-canceling headphones can help to solve this problem. Many of us like listening to music or podcasts while we work. This is your space so fill it with the sound or silence that best serves your productivity.
Create a daily timetable and stick to it
Flexible work hours can lead to procrastination, procrastination can lead to reduced productivity, reduced productivity can lead to breaching deadlines, and breached deadlines can lead to increased work-related stress. It’s a vicious but easily entered circle.
The best way to fight this is by coming up with and sticking to a daily timetable. It doesn’t have to be the same for each day of the week, create a timetable that leaves space for some extracurricular activity.
It’s also nice to have breaks at the same time each day. This will make your routine even stronger but remember nothing is set in stone. If your creative juices are flowing, let them flow, having your coffee break an hour later won’t get you fired.
Create a list of goals at the start of each week
Set aside thirty minutes each Sunday to plan out your week and list what needs to be done. This will aid productivity and make you feel good. Nothing better to help you get over that hump day than seeing your to do list getting shorter.
Your weekly task list can feature daily goals or weekly ones. It all depends on the nature of your job and the projects related to it. It’s better to create a list containing a bit less than you think you will get through. Adding extra tasks in the hope of encouraging yourself to work harder can be counterproductive. Your list will be daunting and if you fail to finish what is on it you feel dejected.
Break the routine from time to time
If you own a laptop, it could be good to just take your work outside from time to time. Working from the same place day after day can lead to reduced productivity, so it’s nice to be able to just pack up and head to your favorite coffee place to work.
Breaking routine can also mean switching work hours a couple of times per month, or simply taking a day off during the week and reserving Saturday or Sunday for catching up. It’s interesting too just chill out while other people work. It can make you cherish the fact that you work from home more and thus make you more productive. A change can be as good as a rest.
Use a separate browser during work hours
When working at an office, there’s a separate workstation at your disposal with limits to which sites you can access and other differences from your home laptop. But when working from home, there’s a high chance you’re using a computer that is also used during off hours, which may be counterproductive.
So, instead of using the same browser used during off hours, the one with all those interesting bookmarks calling you to click on them and with no restrictions when it comes to which sites are available to visit, install a separate browser and use it exclusively for work. I promise, you will become noticeably more productive in no time.
Productivity tips for office workers
Create a personalized workspace
When working at an office, the workspace tends to become grey, devoid of life, and uninspiring. Personalizing your workspace can have a positive effect. Photos, pictures and any small thing that can brighten your day should be utilized. You will come to feel more positive about your surroundings and yourself while and this will improve your productivity.
Isolate yourself from the rest of the office
If you’re working in a shared space, surrounded by distractions, you need to isolate yourself in order to keep your focus and productivity at a high level. Again noise-canceling headphones or a pair of earplugs should be your first stop. If you have troublestaying focused because of visual distractions try a privacy desk cover or privacy boards. These can be found on Amazon and really can help in visually isolating yourself from the rest of a shared workspace.
Take regular breaks
Small but regular breaks can greatly help in keeping focus at a high level, reducing work induced stress, and improving one’s productivity. The best option is to take a 10-minute break every 90 minutes. This way you won’t feel overburdenedand can maintain a clear head throughout the day.
Learn to say no
Always accepting additional tasks and being the one who can’t say ’no’is a very dangerous path. People will take advantage and in trying to help out, your work will suffer. Of course, help a colleague in need but you have to start saying no once that help is asked for every day. Your motivation will suffer if you feel you are being taken advantage of, be steadfast and focused. Help someone in need but you help yourself first.
Small tasks should be done immediately
Procrastinating on small tasks and always leaving them for “later” will negatively impact your productivity. You will waste time thinking of the need to copy those reports or send those three emails to your boss and will lose sight of the bigger picture. Don’t sweat the little things, just get them out of the way.
General productivity tips
Always try to be well rested
This is a no-brainer. We all know how cranky we can be or how hard it is to concentrate in work if we don’t get enough sleep. Always try to be well rested before work. No amount of advice can help if you are simply too tired to work.
Put your phone in a drawer
If you own a personal and a business phone put the personal one in a drawer as soon as you arrive at work. Turn off notifications, whitelist a couple of important numbers and set it aside.
If you work from home or don’t have a business phone, just do the same. You can receive email notifications on your computer, and most collaboration apps such as Slack are available in desktop form.
Morning routines are important to have
Some of us like chilling out in bed, reading for ten minutes before getting up. Others like to have at least half an hour for their morning coffee. Skipping these morning rituals can make us cranky and nervous and can negatively impact our whole day. So, make sure to have enough time each morning for you. You’ll feel better and be more productive if you know that your morning ritual is safe no matter what else the day may hold.
Practice quick and easy exercises during work
Working on a computer can adversely affect your body and mind, so it is recommended to perform simple stretching exercises each hour.You’ll feel better having done something positive for your body. A quick Google search will equip you with the best option for you.
Do not multitask
Multitasking is one of the worst things you can do, and one of the most efficient productivity killers. Answering emails while trying to explain to a co-worker how to fill up that Excel sheet while at the same time writing a report will treble your workload. Just take one thing at a time and don’t muddy the waters.
Even if you are good at multitasking, only multitask unchallenging tasks, those that can be done quickly and without lots of thinking. If you’re working on a task that asks for concentration and focus, it is better to just focus on that single task than try completing it while you have other things on your mind.
Use productivity tools
Productivity tools like to-do lists, reminders, efficient email clients and collaboration platforms can amp up productivity and are a great way to help save up time and energy. This time and energy can then be usedto get more work done instead of being wasted organizing diaries or checking your mail with three different clients on three different accounts or using different apps to communicate with different co-workers.
Always take notes
Always have a note-taking app installed on your phone or, if you like physical things, have a small notebook and a pen in your pocket. It doesn’t hurt to take notes, but they can be a lifesaver. Revert to them at any time to resolve all issues and misunderstandings.
This is a top tip for life not just for work.