Do you want to supercharge your performance on the job — or life in general? You’re not alone. People have sought ways to wring more out of each moment since time immemorial. Fortunately, science now provides clues to what you should do to get the most out of each day. Here are ten unique ways to boost your productivity.
1. Get Playful
Some problems don’t lend themselves to logic alone. For example, who would have thought that mold could help cure disease until Alexander Fleming invented penicillin? If it weren’t for his willingness to “play” with the unusual results he found in the petri dish, people would die from many more diseases today than they do. Playfulness helps break through the mental blocks that often occur when we push too hard, too long at a challenging task. Working too long without a break can make you feel discouraged and overwhelmed. Often, stepping away from your desk for a brief while will free your neurons to make the necessary connections for your next breakthrough.
2. Make a List
There’s something infinitely satisfying about crossing items off your to-do list. Merely making the checkmark gives you a sense of accomplishment and encourages you to tackle your next task.
When’s the best time to make your list? It isn't the first thing in the morning. Instead, productivity experts suggest you create your to-do list for the following day the night before. That way, you’re ready to get right to work when you arrive at your desk in the morning — leading to the next tip.
3. Eat Your Frog
What does it mean to “eat your frog?” The old saying goes that if you have to eat a frog, do it first thing in the morning. The rest of your day will feel like smooth sailing from there. That’s why productivity experts suggest that you tackle your most mentally taxing task during those times when your energy levels are highest. For many people, this means taking care of the most challenging chore of the day soon after arriving at your workstation. You won’t waste precious mental energy dreading that monster you have to battle — you’ll glide through the rest of your day knowing the dragon is already slain.
4. Set a Timer
Remember that first tip about how you need to take breaks to keep your productivity high? It turns out that there’s a science to how often you should press pause. According to this method, you work for 25-minute increments before taking a short 5-minute break. After three of these intense work periods or pomodoros, you settle in for a longer rest — anywhere from 15 - 30 minutes. Proponents of this method claim it keeps them on task by providing knowledge of an upcoming break. Scheduling rest eases the burden of those late nights at the office.
5. Change Your Scenery
Do you stare at the same four walls every day? It might help you to rearrange your desk, perhaps turning it to face a different direction. Why? The human mind craves novelty. Doing the same work in the same position day after day can start to make you feel like you’re stuck in a rut. Even rotating the photos on your office cubicle can lend a sense of freshness to your scenery.
6. A Breath of Fresh Air
Scientists tell us that even gazing at pictures of natural spaces can lower your stress levels. When your tension decreases, your productivity typically soars. If your circumstances allow it, why not take your laptop outside to a shady spot to get some fresh air while you crunch numbers or write copy? If that’s not possible, try to angle your desk toward a window. At the very least, some posters of natural landscapes and a few plants can cheer up your cubicle and boost your output.
7. Make Yourself Comfortable
The pandemic made working from home more common than ever before, much to the delight of those with disabilities, who previously had to clamor for such accommodations. You might have heard the conventional wisdom that you should set up your home office the way you did during your commute.
Please forget that advice if you want to be your most productive. Think about it — how much mental energy do you waste trying to get comfortable in an impossible chair or wearing a suit jacket in a too-stuffy setting? Make yourself cozy. Yes, this includes working from bed if you have a disability and find sitting at a traditional desk painful.
8. Take a Nap
More and more people, including employers, are recognizing the restorative value of naps. Some offices go so far as to provide special pods for this purpose. Even if your workplace isn’t this progressive, you can sneak in a snooze if you telecommute full or part-time. If you must report to a cubicle, seek out a quiet place to park your car and invest in a light-blocking face mask for a midday siesta.
9. Use Two Minutes to Your Advantage
Follow a two-minute rule to help you make the most of your workday. Think of tasks that will only take you two minutes to complete, like checking your email, making a copy, or asking your boss a quick question. When one of these tasks comes up, tackle it immediately. Completing these tasks straight away will take you less time than waiting to get back to them later. Small jobs tend to pile up, and then you have to carve out a set amount of time, maybe an hour, to complete them all. Plus, you won’t have to keep thinking about those simple tasks and can check them off your to-do list.
10. Turn Off Those Notifications
Ping! Ping! Ping! Those notifications are awfully tempting to check. Checking them every once in a while won’t hurt, will it? That is until you’re down a rabbit hole and spend the day watching Tik-Toks your friends sent you that you swore you would wait until you get home to watch. Yes, it gets the best of everyone. That’s why you need to turn off your notifications on every device before clocking into the workday. Instead, for work-related notifications, block out time during the day to check them rather than checking them as soon as they pop up.