6 Steps to Increase Productivity at Work (and Finish the Day Earlier)

Mark Kessler |  August 5, 2016 |  Last updated: December 2, 2016

Increasing Productivity at Work
 
Somedays, it seems like we show up at the office only to spend the best of the day chatting with colleagues and checking social media accounts. It’s just hard to constantly keep up our productivity at work.

 

How about making the average day at work twice as productive?

 

We explored six techniques backed by scientific studies and research – all this to dust up your productivity at work. When reading through the article, don’t just acknowledge the techniques but spot and think – how can I start applying these tactics to my personal daily work routine, increasing productivity. You’ll be surprised by how much more you achieve when actually focusing on what’s important!

 

While you discover new fascinating methods, it’s important to remember that changes never happen overnight.

 
Be patient and don’t push yourself too hard. Instead, improve your life step-by-step, developing healthy habits on the go and improving the way you live and work.

 
Ready to improve your productivity at work? Let’s roll.

 

1. Start your day 1 hour earlier

 

Wouldn’t it be nice to hit the snooze button three times before getting up? Some days, it’s just hard to get up at the right time, not to speak of waking 1 hour earlier.
 
However, there’s plenty of proof that you should at least try to be active in the mornings.
 
Studies show that early risers live a more fulfilled life and are more productive than night owls. Another survey found that 73% of respondents consider the best time for creative work to be in the morning.

 

As our brain function is at its best 2 hours after waking up, use this time for handling demanding tasks.

 

If you show up at the office before anyone else, you’ll be rewarded with a silent work environment to achieve the day’s most important goals. Just think about it… If you wake up 1 hour earlier each day, you have 5 extra hours each week to achieve your goals.

 

Forget about the snooze button. Never use the sneaky snooze button again as it confuses your brain and body, leaving you tired and drowsy for many hours after waking up.
 

To make the most of your day, set the alarm for the time that you actually need to get up and quit the pillow for good.

 
Read more: 40 Productivity Tips Used by High-Achievers [Infographic]

 
 
Morning at Work

 

2. Attend meetings, but do it wisely

 
According to a survey, most employees are attending more than 62 meetings per month. Another part of the survey showed that as much as half of these meetings are considered irrelevant and inefficient. Meaning that we often spend over 20 hours per month at meetings with little or no results.

 

We spend over 20 hours per month at meetings with little or no results.

 
If you can possibly cancel any unimportant meetings, do it now! The next time you’re asked to attend a meeting, think whether your participation is crucial.

 

Read more: 3 Research-backed Tactics to More Effective Meetings
 

Here comes the Golden Rule of productivity: LEARN TO SAY NO – to meetings, lunches, time-wasting tasks, chatting and all other kinds of distractions.

 

Whenever you decide to attend a meeting, ensure that it has a clear agenda and an end goal. If someone gets lost on track while talking, interrupt and lead the discussion back to its course.
 
Tip: Stop bouncing emails back and forth for finding a mutually suitable meeting time. Instead, get a scheduling tool that does the job for you.

 

3. Master the art of focusing

 
It’s quite a challenge to focus at work while around you people chat, walk and often ask for your opinion. A quick fix to the noise is a pair of great noise-canceling headphones.

 

But it’s not just about fixing your surroundings, but also what’s happening inside your head. We’re so overwhelmed with thoughts and distractions that we fall into reactive multitasking, letting ourselves be guided by factors out of our control.

 

Did you know that multitasking has the damaging effect similar to Marijuana to our brains? While we might think ourselves productive working on many tasks at once, the outcome is opposite – we’re less productive and spend valuable time continuously switching between tasks.

 
Research shows that when multitasking, your error rate increases 50 percent, and it will take twice as long to get things done.

 

To learn to focus, try meditating for 10 minutes each day. There are mobile apps like Headspace and Calm that offer free introductory lessons to meditation, leading to higher focus and increasing productivity.

 

Research showed that meditation may be associated with positive structural changes in brain areas that are important for sensory, cognitive and emotional processing.

 

Take control of your time and mind to lead a proactive life and focus on achieving your goals.
 

Read more: 10 Browser Extensions for Increased Productivity.

 

4. Battle the after-lunch fatigue

 
We’ve all experienced drowsiness after finishing our lunch break. Well, it’s part of our biology and it’s normal to get sleepy during after-lunch hours. But what a damaging effect it has on our productivity at work… Let’s take a deeper look into the problem and find possible solutions.

 

First, a human organism functions in a certain rhythm, leaving our energy levels lower in the afternoon. If you have a chance (which most of us don’t), take a 20-minute nap before returning to work after lunch.

 

Another reason why lunch has a damaging effect on our productivity, is its ingredients. When eating food high in carbohydrates or fat, you end up increasing your insulin levels that causes sleepiness. Stick to protein based lunches for increased productivity and alertness in the afternoon.

 

Our afternoon energy levels are affected by our lunch choices.

 
If you’d like to dig in deeper, here’s a great answers feed on Quora, explaining the reasons of after-lunch drowsiness.

 

productivity at work
 

5. Have an action plan

 
As we arrive at work, the first 30 minutes are usually spent on preparing coffee, chatting with co-workers, and trying to find out what tasks were left unfinished and what needs to be accomplished today.

 

Instead of leaving your next day self in the dark, take 10 minutes at the end of each day to reflect on today’s accomplishments and write down your top 3 priorities for tomorrow.

 

Goes without saying, but creating a prioritized task list is the key to keeping track on your goals and tasks. Whenever a new task comes up, add it to your task list, instead of starting to work on it right away. This way you’ll avoid getting distracted from your previous activity.

 
Read more: 12 Morning Starters to Have a Productive Day at Work.

 
Developing a daily routine is a great way to learn the best times for accomplishing certain types of tasks and building your daily schedule around big goals.
 
Get inspired by the daily routines of 7 successful entrepreneurs
 

Tip: Imagine your day is a jar that you start filling with cobblestones (important tasks and goals). Next, you add smaller stones (small but still important tasks) and sand (small daily activities) to fill the jar even tighter. In the end, when it seems that your day is already fully planned, there is still room in the jar for water – tiny activities like checking email or making coffee.

 
jar method for productivity at work

 

Taking time to think about your achievements and plan for future goals is essential to success. You’ll be more focused and true to your beliefs, working your way to the top.

Want to manage your time more efficiently? Read more: Time-tracking Best Practices for Teams and Individuals

 

6. Keep away from email, it’s evil!

 

A study found that the average worker spends as much as 13 hours a week on email. It’s over a quarter of the time spent at work while acting upon other people’s requests instead of pursuing your own goals.

 

Another recent study revealed even more severe results – an average white-collar worker spends about 6 hours a day on email.

 

To efficiently manage your emails, set 4-5 times per day for checking the inbox. Turn off the notifications and only open your inbox at certain times to avoid constant distractions.

 

If you’d like to bring even more efficiency to your inbox management, start using tools like SaneBox that organize unimportant emails to a different folder, cleaning up your inbox.

 

What would you try to accomplish if you had only 4 hours per day for work?

 
Would you spend any of this time on checking emails or would you strive for your goals? Now think about it. You’re lucky to have twice as much time at work and you could accomplish double that’s achieved in 4 hours of hard work.

 

Learn to value your time and you’ll soon notice how your productivity at work has considerably improved. Lead a more successful life by pushing aside distractions and focus on what’s actually important to you, leading to higher productivity at work.

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