With the ever-increasing inundation of gadgets in our lives, the urge to multitask at work, and the temptation to get sucked into Social Media platforms like Facebook, it’s easy to lose track of time throughout your day. Whether you’re looking to increase productivity in your daily routine or improve employee productivity on the job, here are a few helpful tips to consider as well as some productivity apps to keep you focused:
Most people are unaware of how much time they’re spending on routine tasks, including e-mail correspondence, Social Media apps, or other work-related responsibilities. Fortunately, there’s a productivity app for nearly everything these days: in our hyper-connected world, apps like Offtime allow you to ‘unplug’ from Social Media and other time-eating digital habits so you can stay on-task at work and in your personal life. Other apps like Moment and BreakFree allow you to track your usage and set daily limits on the time you spend on your device. Still need more restraining? Some of the best productivity apps include more aggressive approaches, such as Flipd, which allows you to lock your phone for a set period of time – even if you restart your phone, you can’t disable it, rendering it impossible to cheat!
Creating a list might seem like a no-brainer way to increase productivity, but taking an inventory of your daily activities and goals for the week can be a great starting point, particularly if you’re faced with multiple projects or deadlines. Writing a list in priority order can help to ascertain what the most important tasks are to tackle first. Keeping the list handy (either on your phone, desktop or in a handwritten format, if you’re feeling old-school) serves as a convenient reminder – there are few more satisfying moments than crossing off an item off your to-do list! If you want to take your list-making skills one step further, there are a number of to-do list apps you can download to further increase your productivity and stay organized on the job and in your free time.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, taking regular breaks throughout your day can help your ability to concentrate and render you more productive. Studies have shown that taking short breaks during your day (especially if you’re in the midst of a long task, such as data entry, writing, coding or other extended stints at your workstation) may help maintain a more consistent performance level. Working non-stop can not only lead to burn out, but poorer performance.
It may sound like one of the most obvious productivity tips, but imposing deadlines on yourself is extremely effective when navigating your workload. Once you’ve determined what your day entails – whether you’re at the office or faced with a series of chores or projects in your personal life – give yourself a deadline, and commit to it! Keeping a calendar is also helpful – and not just the one on your phone. Hanging a wall calendar creates a visual reminder, and using an old-fashioned monthly planner not only keeps all your dates in writing but serves as a valuable back-up in the event you lose your phone, or your data is accidentally deleted.
Another suggestion that may seem to go against the grain of today’s fast-paced lifestyle: eliminate your multitasking tendencies whenever possible. In fact, psychologists have discovered that individuals attempting to do several tasks at once were less productive and spent a greater deal of time in an attempt to complete their workload. Instead, focus on one task at a time, and give it your undivided attention – chances are, you’ll discover you will not only get through your project faster but also feel more focused and attain a higher level of concentration.
Your evening commute on mass transit can prove useful at accomplishing mundane tasks like checking your email or conducting online research. Forgo the temptation to play videogames on your phone and instead utilize rush-hour on the train or subway to squeeze in time-eating tasks, such as creating your to-do lists or brainstorming for your next office meeting. Besides boosting your productivity, you may even shave off hours spent at home (or at work) doing the same tasks, resulting in more downtime for you!
Another huge time-waster: attempting perfection at every turn. Yes; we all know accountability for our work is expected, and it’s natural to want to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ whenever we can. However, it’s nearly impossible to get everything perfect, whether you’re an entrepreneur or working within a corporate setting. The best strategy? Complete your task and move on – you can always come back to the task at hand and adjust accordingly.
According to a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, incorporating exercise into your daily routine may improve your productivity. Whether you are working from home, onsite, or simply completing your household chores, penciling in some physical activity can help increase your focus and amp productivity levels. If exercise isn’t your thing, or you’re not sure how to squeeze a workout into your routine, keep it simple: try to schedule a set time every week, choose do-able goals like walking around your neighborhood or using a stationary bike at the gym, or dance around your apartment to get your blood pumping. If you have medical conditions, speak to your physician to determine an exercise routine that’s best for you.
Your surroundings can have as much of an impact on your workload as your organizational skills. Research shows that individuals surrounded by aesthetically-pleasing environments are more productive – by up to 15%! Create an inspired office or work space, whether you’re telecommuting or situated in a corporate setting – add plants, pictures, a vase with flowers, or anything else that is pleasing to the eye. By adding beauty to your surroundings, you can elevate your mood – and find yourself more productive.
Sometimes we find our day mysteriously wasted by a barrage of phone calls, an onslaught of emails or an inordinate amount of staff meetings. So how can we combat these time-eating activities? Have a plan – in other words, creating to-do lists (see No. 2), setting deadlines and compartmentalizing activities will allow you to stay focused and avoid getting sidetracked or wasting too much time on menial tasks.