7 Easy and Unexpected Ways to Maximize Productivity At Work

Focus on being productive instead of busy – Tim Ferris


t’s not always easy to stay focussed and energetic at work. If your office is anything like mine, Monday morning starts with a post-weekend lethargy propped up by copious cups of coffee, and Friday afternoon descends into a chatty chaos, with most people leaving their desks well before lunchtime and the remainder taking it in turns to shoot scrunched-up balls of paper into the recycling bin.
It doesn’t mean you don’t like your job – I know I enjoy mine – but 8 hours a day sitting in front of a computer is a long time. If you don’t use the right methods to tackle work, time can easily drag and your creative juices – and enthusiasm for your job – will slowly dry up. So we’ve come up with a few simple yet effective ideas to keep you productive in the workplace…

1. Turn up on time

It may sound silly, but think about it: how many times have you turned up to work with your takeaway coffee spilt down your shirt, red in the face and out of breath from running to catch the bus in time. Sound familiar? Then you’ll know that after throwing your bag on the floor and wheeling yourself towards your computer screen, you often feel a sense of frustration and disorganisation that can stick with you for the rest of the day. Start the day by turning up ten minutes early; make yourself a cup of tea, catch-up with your colleagues and get yourself prepared (mentally and physically) for the day ahead.

2. Power hour!

It’s one of those lame industry phrases that gets thrown around a lot, but there is actually reason behind it. If power hours haven’t landed in your office yet, create your own power hour – spend an hour powering through a set of easily manageable tasks. You’ll be amazed at how your productivity turns into positivity; not only will you tick off loads of the things you need to do, but the sense of achievement will stay with you and spur you on for the rest of the day. Result.

3. Drink more

No, we’re not condoning daytime drinking in the office.
We mean water. This may sound obvious, but you’ll be amazed how many people forget to drink enough water during their day in the office. Not only is this bad for your body, but it’s bad for your productivity. Your brain is 85% water, and studies show that a 2% drop in water levels already leads to the inability to concentrate properly and perform key tasks. We’re not suggesting replacing your caffeine fix with water; we’re not animals. But perhaps next time you pop the kettle on you can fill up your water bottle too.

4. Take regular breaks (and take them away from your computer!)

Sitting at the computer for hours on end with no variation doesn’t do much for your concentration or productivity. Regular breaks can chop up the day. They also improve your circulation, start to tackle those pesky back problems that come hand in hand with office work, and reduce eyestrain. Take five minutes out for each hour of work (or ten minutes every two hours) and get a change of scenery. Walk somewhere, make a cup of tea or visit a colleague or get a breath of fresh air outside; and you’ll often find that you come back to your work with a renewed sense of enthusiasm and a fresh perspective.

Top tip: DO something interesting for your lunch break –go for a walk outside, find a new cafe round the corner to get lunch in, or simply settle down in a corner somewhere with a good book. Try to relax. DON’T stay at your desk staring at your computer screen, surrounded by paperwork you feel you should be sorting.

5. Play games

No, we don’t mean mind games with Dave who sits opposite you, staring at his left ear for no good reason (we know what you’re doing). We mean WORK GAMES! Because, really, we are all children inside. Does your team have daily targets? Separate into two teams and pitch yourselves against each other. Visualise your progress on charts or Blue Peter-style thermometers. You’ll be surprised at not only how quickly things get done, but also how morale is boosted in the workplace.
Top tip: Play a game of battleships: with each target you hit, you are allowed to aim at a ship. Sink a ship and you win a prize – maybe a beer at the next work social, or a free breakfast in the canteen downstairs (everyone loves free food).

6. Take pride in your workstation

It’s a cliché but it’s true: a tidy house does equal a tidy mind. Get rid of those five coffee mugs you’ve been hoarding. Use the bin for your crisp packets, not your pen holder. Put some time aside to sort out that pile of printouts that keeps staring at you; buy some folders or paper-holders to separate your work so you know where everything is. Having the right office supplies will speed up your work day. Make your desk an attractive and organised environment to be in: by all means brighten it up with some flowers or photos, but keep it clutter-free and professional-looking. You’ll soon find that the organised vibes your workstation gives off will rub off on your approach to work, and maybe even the people around you!

7. Organise your time

There’s nothing more satisfying than being able to tick something off a to-do list. Separating your workload into more manageable tasks is a classic way of increasing productivity. Break down your workload into bitesize chunks and form a list of things to work through. Sites like Asana and Toggl help you to write lists, track how time is spent on projects, and organise your working day in a fun and attractive way. Online tools can help you visualise tasks and keep on track with colleagues.
Have we missed anything out? Tell us your suggestions in the comments below.


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