Does this schedule sound familiar?
8:00 am — You walk into the office ready to conquer the day. Oh look, a Facebook notification!
8:05 am — Your notifications begin to pile up as you look at the latest blogs, tweets, and other distractions.
8:10 am — You attempt to organize your tasks for the day, but a co-worker interrupts you and asks for your approval on a project.
8:15 am — That interruption turned into a full team project meeting.
9:00 am — The meeting went longer than you expected. You’ve missed out on a crucial hour of your work day.
11:00 am — You finish getting everything organized and complete a few menial tasks. Right as you’re ready to get to work, you decide to get a snack from the kitchen. In the kitchen, you start a conversation with Bob from Accounting. He’s a nice guy.
11:15 am — Your friend texts you and begins a conversation. You continue to look at that conversation and scroll through social media throughout the day
1:00 pm — You return from lunch and realize you haven’t made a dent in your workload for the day.
3:00 pm — You’re exhausted, but still entertain notifications and distractions.
4:00 pm — You begin to count down the minutes until 5:00 pm. You notice you haven’t done much work today and scramble to finish up.
4:55 pm — You begin to pack up your things to leave, but the boss wants to see what you’ve done for the day. What do you have to show her?
5:30 pm — Your conversation with the boss didn’t go so well. You begin to analyze your day to figure out how to improve your productivity at work.
The number of distractions we encounter each day at work is mind-boggling.
When you search for productivity tips, you’ll encounter articles dedicated to enhancing daily productivity. Yet, many articles suggest using applications to help you be more productive. Doesn’t that seem a bit counterproductive?
Don’t get me wrong, apps are amazing innovations. They’ve significantly improved our workflow, organized our lives, and added value to our society. But apps come with notifications, and notifications can be detrimental to our workday.
Our cell phones ding and buzz and like Pavlov’s dogs, we immediately respond — thus distracting us from whatever the task at hand is. If you’re not keen on depending on applications to enhance your productivity, try these timeless tips and tools.
Work in a Comfortable Atmosphere
Our environment has a direct effect on our ability to concentrate and be productive. Office environment factors such as the type and amount of lighting, the temperature, and the amount of noise can all affect our efficiency at work.
Of course, not every individual finds the same work environments to be appealing. Our Creative Director prefers to work in a dark-lit room with pure silence while I enjoy working in brightly lit environments with a bit of instrumental music playing.
Find a way to personalize your work space to accommodate your needs and comfort preferences. Whether you prefer to have plants on your desk, music playing, or a bean bag chair, you’ll notice a drastic difference in your productivity when you are comfortable.
The Classic To-Do List
Ah, the to-do list. A timeless productivity tool that is the core of numerous productivity applications. At Titan Web Marketing Solutions, we use Zoho, Asana, and other programs centered around to-do lists to ensure our projects are on track.
Personally, I learn and remember tasks and ideas best when I write them down. In college, the only way I could study was by rewriting my notes, reading them over and over, and then rewriting the notes once again. In my professional life, I use hand-written to-do lists to remember everything I have to do that day.
However, there is a general flaw to the to-do list: We forget to do the tasks on the list! This flaw arises from a few flaws on our end as humans:
- Failure to make specific tasks — Assigning yourself to “Complete the important project” isn’t as effective as reminding yourself to “Write the eBook for XYZ client by Friday, January 1st.” Make your “to-dos” as specific as possible.
- Prioritize your tasks — It might be easier to complete one task over another, but is it a priority? Put the most important tasks at the top of your to-do list and do everything in your power to complete them first.
- Set Deadlines — All too often, we set tasks but no completion time. Without a deadline, what’s the true possibility of us ever finishing a task?
To-do lists can be a complete failure unless you go about them the right way. Is an app the best way to do so? It depends on your personal preference. While apps provide handy notifications and are beautiful to look at, sometimes you can’t beat a classic.
Meetings Are a Time Suck — Use an Agenda
All too often, meetings are called last minute and end up being water cooler discussions for an entirely different topic. Did you watch Dancing With the Stars last night?
Developing and implementing meeting agendas are great for ensuring that your meeting stays on topic and nothing is forgotten.
When creating a meeting agenda, use the following tips to make sure your meeting stays on track.
- Present the most important topics first. Your meeting members will be the most attentive at the very beginning of your meeting. Schedule all important meeting topics and notes at the very beginning. Also, remember to do a quick recap at the end in order to help people remember the points.
- Assign individuals to present specific topics. This will help your team members stay engaged and productive during the meetings.
- Schedule meetings at optimal times — not randomly. There is nothing worse for your productivity than a surprise meeting. Make sure your team knows exactly when a meeting is days in advance.
No one enjoys a last minute meeting. If you must have a meeting, keep your agenda brief, to the point, and quick! Your co-workers will appreciate the ability to get back to productive work.
Set and Follow Your Own Rules
Believe it or not, developing your own rules will actually enhance your productivity levels.
Analyze your daily distractions. Do you find yourself texting friends all afternoon? If so, make it a rule to turn your phone on silent and put it in your desk throughout the afternoon. For some individuals, this may not be feasible. Instead, ask your friends and family to only text you if it’s an emergency.
For those who have difficulty with forgoing social media throughout the day, make it a rule to check your news feed three times throughout the day — before work begins, on your lunch break, after work ends.
If you fail to follow your rules, have a co-worker keep tabs on you and call you out when you break a rule!
We’re not super humans. While it would be great to have the ability to work for eight hours straight without compromising the quality of your work, it’s unhealthy and virtually impossible.
Instead, schedule breaks to take a walk, make a cup of coffee, read the news, or whatever you like to do to unwind. Taking breaks throughout the day can even help you stay on track and accomplish your goals faster!
When you overload yourself with work, you will burn out fast. Instead of slowing down and being significantly unproductive, try one of these break methods for your work day. Your productivity levels, overall mood, and work performance will thank you.
Living a Healthy Life
Your health plays a major role in your ability to perform at work and stay productive throughout the day. In 2014, a study looked at data from 37,626 employees located in Washington. Of those employees, 24.6% were obese. This percentage was linked to the lack of exercise and ability to prevent obesity in the workplace.
The fact is, if you don’t feel your best, you won’t be able to be your best at work. Little changes to your activities throughout the day can drastically improve your health and your overall productivity.
Take a 15-minute walk around your office, building and property as part of your scheduled break. Instead of reaching for a sugary soda around 3:00 PM, choose a bottle of water. Remember to get an adequate amount of sleep the night before and every night. Tiny changes add up to an awesome bigger picture!
One way to be productive and improve team morale along the way is to encourage one another. When your team is cheering you on, you can’t help but work your best and enhance your overall productivity.
Providing compliments, suggestions and feedback, and listening to others’ opinions can all work towards enhancing productivity for your entire office.
Do What Works For You and Your Business
Keep in mind that these tips are exactly that — tips. Some have experienced great success by implementing tiny productivity changes throughout their day while others have developed their own techniques for finding the motivation and productivity needed to keep going.
No matter if you choose to use these tried and true tools or you find that apps work better for your life, just do something to keep your productivity levels afloat!