Remaining productive at work is a breeze on some days and a significant challenge on others. No matter how hard we try, we cannot add more hours to the day. Our only options for increasing productivity in the office, therefore, are working smarter, or working harder. If you’re anything like us, you definitely prefer the latter.
In our experience, increasing productivity is easy when you employ a few of the five tips and tricks listed below.
1. Set Deadlines… And Stick To Them
While too much stress in the workplace can be distracting, and even damage your health, a small amount of self-imposed stress can actually make you more productive. Setting your own deadlines on when a project or assignment should be finished discourages procrastination and improves focus. It also allows you to track your progress, stay aware of your schedule, and ensure that you’re not spending too much time on any single task.
2. Take Short, Scheduled Breaks
You will find this piece of advice in every productivity checklist, but do you ever actually do it? Research shows that taking short breaks during long tasks – or long work days – allows you to maintain a consistent level of performance. Taking no breaks during long tasks leads to a steady decline in performance. So, when quality matters, give your brain a break!
3. Work in 90-Minute Intervals
Florida University researcher K. Anders Ericsson, who studies elite performers in athletic, artistic, and professional fields found that the best performers typically practice for no more than 90 minutes at a time. They start in the morning, take breaks between sessions, and rarely work for more than 4.5 hours a day. While this exact model may be hard to justify to your boss, the general structure should be easy enough to implement in your daily work routine.
4. Employ the Two-Minute Rule
The Two-Minute Rule is simple – if a task takes less than two minutes to complete, finish it immediately. Trust us, this is far quicker than remembering to come back to it later (if you actually do remember!), transitioning off of what you were doing previously, completing the task, and then transitioning back to the rest of your schedule.
5. Spend More Time Doing Less
A growing body of research shows that the less people work, the more productive they are. Seems contradictory, right? Perhaps not. Activities like sleeping, exercise, and yes, taking small breaks when needed, have been shown to dramatically increase employee performance. For example, a recent Harvard University study indicated that inadequate sleep costs American companies a whopping $63 billion each year! So, be sure to safeguard your down-time. It may just push you to the next level in your career.