Before you start reading, take 90 seconds to watch this video:
Wouldn’t it be great if we could commit to this routine everyday? Sadly, life has a funny way of steering us off track, allowing procrastination to creep in, even when we’re trying our best to stay productive. However maximising your productivity and sustaining it throughout the workday isn’t as hard as you’d think. Keep reading to see if one of our productivity hacks recharge your batteries.
1. Write down 3 of Your Most Important Tasks Every Morning.
Productivity, put simply, is the name we give our attempts to figure out the best uses of our energy, intellect, and time as we try to seize the most meaningful rewards with the least wasted effort. Before you go to work, it helps to write down at least 3 things that you want to achieve that day. Cut out the fluff by making them ultra-specific and manageable so you prioritise these above all others.
Don’t just put them in your iPhone notes either because you have a higher chance of success if you physically write it down. According to research conducted at the Dominican University of California, participants who wrote down their goals were 33% more likely to achieve them, compared to those who didn’t. Some say the reason for this is because technology is too distracting and distancing, while “words can rush out in their raw, feral state when the pen is your tool.”
IT visionary Steve Jobs saw his morning as a time to ask questions. “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
2. Work Less
How can working less make you more productive? The longer hours we work per week, (particularly over 55+ hours) the faster our productivity deteriorates. Studies have shown those who work 70 hours or more produce shockingly little in the last 15 hours. The more we work, the more fatigued we become - resulting in lower efficiency and higher likelihood of making mistakes.
Some Swedish companies have adopted the “Maxwell Curve” by introducing 6-hour workdays – encouraging staff to work more productively for shorter periods of time. What they saw was a significant decrease in employee conflicts and arguments, combined with a huge increase in staff energy levels. “If your staff is happy, your company is happy,” said Linus Feldt, CEO of Stockholm-based app developer Filimundus.
3. Create a Procrastination List.
Instead of scrolling through endless Facebook feeds and Instagram photos, introduce a little productivity into your procrastination time. Sounds like an oxymoron? Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it! Start by making a list of low-energy activities that you can do when you feel your mind starting to wander.
Delve into task triage. Update that LinkedIn profile, read industry related articles, organise your computer files and complete those generic short tasks which have been niggling in the back of your mind for weeks. Once you’ve mastered the art of structured procrastination, productivity shouldn’t be that far off.
4. Get out and about
Most employees find their solace taking lunch at their desks but research reveals that the path to productive creativity lies in taking a brisk walk. This activity alone can enhance your creative thinking by nearly 60%. If you can’t see yourself sticking to the Pomodore technique (25 minutes of work and a 5 minute break), make sure you get out of that office chair at least once or twice an hour. No matter what your working environment, a change of scenery will encourage your creative juices to continue flowing when you’re back in the office.
We are living in an increasing knowledge-based economy that rewards innovation and new ideas. But if your employees can’t produce this creativity, it starts to affect your bottom line. Boston Consulting Group found that over the past fifteen years businesses have prioritised process management over productivity, creating 50 - 350% more work in the form of reports and coordination meetings. When the walls feel like they’re closing in around you, perhaps it’s time to clear your head by spending a few minutes outside.
6. Change the Lense
At a 2011 TED talk in Bloomington, Indiana, CEO of Good Think Inc. Shawn Achor explained, “It’s not the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality.” Most employees’ mentality revolves around the philosophy that if we work harder, we’ll be more successful - and if we’re more successful, we’ll be happier. For generations we’ve tricked our brains to believe that we’ll never get there. We always want something bigger, better and more expensive. However if you channel that energy into being positive in the present, your brain releases dopamine that turns on all the learning centers in your brain and increases your productivity levels on a massive scale.
7. Put your headphones in
Another way to increase your dopamine levels at work is to listen to music. Instead of being a distraction, music can increase your productivity by making you happier and more motivated when working on tasks. According to research conducted by Cambridge Sound Management, listening to your favourite songs (and in particular, lyric-less music) lifts your mood and increases focus. So plug in a pair of comfy headphones and check out our science-backed playlists, geared to increase your productivity.
8. Embrace Feng Shui in the Office
Research shows that by making small adjustments in your working environment improves motivation and overall performance in the office. Creating a comfortable common area, re-arranging pictures near your desk or having the occasional chat by the water cooler encourages you to feel comfortable and more in-tune with your work. A cluttered desk, harsh lighting and poor natural light can actually discourage productivity.
Recent studies conducted by the Journal of Consumer Research discovered that messy environments have the potential to undermine your persistence at work. The experiment involved testing participants’ ability to complete a challenging task under organised and disorganised environments. The results showed that participants in the organised environment persevered with their task nearly twice as long as those stuck in the messier room. Evidence suggests the reasoning behind this is that “a self-created mess can become overwhelming because it serves as evidence that you’re unable to control your environment.” Regain control in the office and increase your productivity by making sure your desk is in check.
9. Treat Yourself
Don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either, but do take the time to treat yourself. Whenever you’ve achieved tasks on your to-do list, give yourself a reward at the end of the day – and you’ll be more motivated to keep going the next day. Research has shown that rewards are responsible 75% of personal motivation towards accomplishment.
Jamie Wong, founder and CEO of Vayable, claims scheduling three non-work-related activities each week helps her to reach her goals. She actively spends time dedicating her out-of-working hours on tasks to "Create," "Love," and "Grow." Currently she is learning how to play the guitar (Create), keeping Thursday and Saturday nights free for her friends (Love), and mastering the art of boxing (Grow).
At the end of the day, productivity is a quest that’s determined by individual goals and willpower. Even though there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to procrastination, one of these tips might prove helpful the next time your mind starts to wander.
[Picture from @B2Community]