Five Easy Ways To Boost Productivity In The Office

Written by on June 17, 2013 in Career - No comments | Print this page

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Image by Robert Basil

Image by Robert Basil

I find it incredible that when I was at school, we never once got taught techniques for improving our emotional health and productivity.

If someone had taught me basic productivity tips then I wouldn’t have wasted the years I did, running myself into the ground without getting nearly as much done as I do now.

Below are some tips that I’ve found and use which have dramatically increased my levels of productivity, energy levels and mood.

You can help boost your productivity in the office long before you actually get into work. In fact, my first productivity tip is something you can do in bed. Not that, you dirty animals, it’s not that kind of article.

Tip 1. No Snooze Is Good News

I know only too well what it’s like: your alarm goes off, you turn over, and immediately reach for the snooze button. You tell yourself that an extra ten minutes in bed will be just the ticket to give you strength to get through the rest of the day. But this is not the case.

These short, interrupted bursts of deep sleep are far from restorative and refreshing; it is very damaging, and can severely impair your productivity, mood and energy during the day. It’s much better to get up immediately, regardless of how you feel. You’ll feel awake quicker than if you have that extra ten minutes.

You can increase your productivity and feeling of wakefulness and rejuvenation by improving the quality of your sleep. One way to do this that I’ve used is through an app called Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock.

Unlike with a traditional alarm clock, you will be woken during the lightest phase of sleep within half an hour of when you want to be woken. If you set the alarm to wake you at 730, it will wake you at the optimum time between 7 and 730.

When you are woken from a deep sleep you will feel groggy and will be less productive and more tired. This app will wake you at the time that’s best for you.

Tip 2. Join Me, Barack Obama & Chinese Children

What do I have in common with Barack Obama and Chinese school children? We all do exercises of a morning before we start our work.

You might find it impractical or embarrassing to do this at work, so this may be another tip to do before heading into the office. But, if you do decide to exercise in the office, you might want to warn your boss and colleagues first before they walk into the office to see you flailing your arms around or bent over with your backside in the air.

Aerobic exercise is great for the brain. Half an hour of aerobic exercise – jogging/running, stretching and jumping – can have a dramatically positive affect on your mood and levels of productivity.

Once your boss sees how much more productive you’ve become, they might make it a routine part of the working day. You might even get a pay rise for revolutionising company productivity levels.

Tip 3. Goals

One way to hugely increase your productivity is to set goals. I can’t imagine how I got anything done before I made setting goals a routine part of my life. In fact, comparatively speaking, I hardly got anything done at all.

The very act of setting a goal is a majorly productive accomplishment within itself. When you set a goal, you immediately gain perspective and focus. You know where you are going and what needs doing.

People who don’t set goals can easily become victims of circumstance. By this, I mean that goals allow us to prioritise the important things that need doing, rather than simply becoming distracted by all the things going on around us.

I like to plan my tomorrow so that I have a head start on what needs doing as soon as I’m up.

When I write my to do list I will often include times that I want things done by. This helps to keep me focused and means I give myself reasonable daily targets.

Before I did this, I’d simply write down a massively long list of things that needed doing, and then feel depressed when I’d only achieved a quarter of my goals. Giving yourself times, saying that you’ll work on a certain task between 930 and 1030, allows you to realistically plan your day.

I’d also recommend making a note of your achievements as well, marking off the goals that you’ve achieved in the day. Then you can see what a brilliantly successful and productive day you’ve had.

Tip 4. Fatal Distraction

Distractions can be fatal. Facebook, Twitter, emails and unproductive conversations with colleagues can severely impact on our productivity. You’d be surprised by the amount of time this actually takes up in your day.

The brain works more effectively when you focus on carrying out one task at a time. So keeping your email inbox, Facebook and Twitter open can give you an endless supply of productivity-robbing distractions.

The great thing about working in an open plan office is that everyone can easily be communicated with. But it can prove to be a recipe for major distraction. Our boss installed partitions between desks. This really helped, as it meant we weren’t becoming distracted by the rest of the room.

Tip 5. Power Nap

Some of the most successful people, such as Edison, Churchill, JF Kennedy and Lynden B Johnson, took restorative naps. Taking a power nap in the afternoon can really boost your productivity and energy levels.

In the afternoons, our bodies naturally have a little slump where we are less likely to be as productive. In countries like Spain, it is common for people to take afternoon siestas, and their work routine accommodates this.

A twenty to thirty minute nap in the afternoon can work wonders and can significantly enhance your levels of concentration, alertness and productivity. I understand that it is often impractical to do this in the office.

If it is unfeasible to have a short afternoon nap, then you can also benefit from taking a short walk or do stretches, or even just sitting quietly and breathing slowly and deeply.

The tips in this article have helped me become significantly more productive. I hope you will find them useful too.

Let me know how you get on, or feel free to share a tip of your own by leaving a comment below.

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David Eagle is a freelance voice over artist, writer, blogger, podcaster and member of a UK folk music group. He recommends Applied Workplace.

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