How to be more productive: Five productivity hacks
We live in a society where we are constantly bombarded with distractions at work.
7 MINUTE READ
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August 20, 2018

We live in a society where we are constantly bombarded with distractions at work. Co-workers have immediate needs, a quick 'social media break' goes from 10 minutes to an hour and weekly meetings run long. Before you know it, the day is almost over and you feel like you haven't accomplished a simple thing.

There's no shortage of advice available about how to be more productive. There are hundreds of books you can read about time management and how to foster peak productivity. However, the major tenets of productivity are based around breaking bad habits and developing good ones with discipline and commitment. Read on to learn more about five simple productivity tips the most successful people practice that you can start using today.

Stop Multi-tasking

If you're at home trying to get dinner on the table, put laundry in the dryer and talk to a family member on the phone at the same time, multitasking seems like a good idea. However, this doesn't translate to the workplace.

Multitasking has a sneaky way of making you feel like you're getting more done even if you are actually becoming Iess productive. Researchers at Stanford University found that people who thought they were particularly skilled at multitasking and more productive as a result were actually the least productive. They were worse at multitasking than those who preferred to do one thing at a time.

People waste time when they move in between tasks frequently. Multitasking takes more energy and drains your energy reserves. It slows down your brain's ability to process information and complete tasks at the highest level.

Studies have shown that taking a few short, 15-minute breaks can make you more productive over the course of the day. But, there's a caveat. You have to give your mind time to breathe. Take a walk, read a book, meditate or listen to music. Don't spend your breaks being 'productive' in front of your computer paying bills, catching up on personal emails or browsing social media.

To do your best work on a project, you have to get laser-focused on the task at hand. Jumping around from tab to tab or answering every email that comes in immediately won't do you any favors. Excessive multitasking can even lower your IQ.

Turn Off Your Notifications

Email, text messages, Skype, Slack, Facebook, Twitter — the list goes on. We exist in a highly connected world. While each communication platform has benefits, they also have their pitfalls and can bring productivity to a screeching halt.

How many times per day do you think you get interrupted by a message from a co-worker or client? If you feel the need to answer right away, reconsider. One study showed that the average employee is interrupted every 11 minutes. Research says it takes an average of slightly over 23 minutes to refocus on a task after being interrupted. If you are distracted only five times a day, that can be over two hours of productivity lost.

Spend a minimum of 25 minutes to two hours working on a task until you take a break and move on to something else. You can always snooze your e-mail notifications and set aside 15–20 minutes a few times per day to answer your messages and send thoughtful, timely responses.

How many social media notifications do you look at over the course of the workday? How many text or chat messages do you read or write? It's no surprise many employers restrict Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Their distractions can severely impede progress towards reaching your most important goals.

One of the best productivity hacks you can implement today is staying off social media during working hours and limiting non-work related messages and phone calls to a minimum. You'll finish your work sooner and your notifications will be waiting for you after you've finished getting things done.

Live a Healthy Lifestyle

The benefits of physical activity go far beyond cardiovascular and mental health. Living a healthy lifestyle is the foundation of a fruitful workday. How do you feel if you stay up too late eating junk food and laying on the couch binge-watching television? You wake up groggy, hit the snooze button a few times and drag yourself into the office later than your colleagues. By the time you reach lunchtime, you're ready for a nap. At the end of the day, you've run out of energy. You hit the couch and turn on the television to repeat the cycle, establishing a bad habit that can be hard to break.

Now imagine starting your day with eight hours of sleep behind you, waking up early to exercise and fueling your body with a healthy breakfast. You start your workday energized and ready to tackle the challenges ahead.

Many businesspeople say they'd love to work out more, but the responsibilities of their work and home lives don't leave any time for a proper workout. It doesn't have to be complicated. People make time for things that are important to them. Find whatever activity you enjoy and make a commitment to it.

Find a yoga class, go cycling or go for a jog with a co-worker during lunch. Even if you incorporate three 10-minute walks into your day, that's a major improvement from sitting at your desk. The productivity benefits you reap from regular exercise will pay dividends.

Getting enough sleep and regular exercise are great habits to cultivate. You'll feel better, be more productive and enjoy proven benefits such as increased concentration and energy levels, decreased stress levels, better memory recall, improved mood and creativity.  

Develop a To-Do List and Stick to It

When you feel overwhelmed it can be tempting to make a long to-do list to organize tasks. You end up completing the easiest ones first to gain a feeling of accomplishment. Instead, determine the top three most critical tasks you need to accomplish today. Focus on knocking them out before you move on.

Narrowing your focus can help you be more productive by limiting distractions and staying on task. If you're tempted by distractions within your control, be disciplined with your time. Don't check Facebook until you've crossed one of the three tasks off your list. Don't look at Twitter or check email or text messages until you've reached the next milestone in a project. It can take time, but learning to stick to your plan will become natural.

Enlist Technology to Reach Peak Productivity

Many successful people tout the benefits of task tracking and time management programs. There are hundreds of software programs and tools available to improve the process of project management without adding more meetings to the schedule. Some technologies help teams communicate and plan out their tasks to increase transparency and accountability to enhance productivity.

Samewave is social performance management software designed to use the strength of social technology to build a collaborative, productive environment. This software allows companies to create, track, measure and discuss work commitments while maximizing productivity.

Samewave’s software is free, so implement it into your workflow this week to see how it impacts your team’s productivity levels.

Be More Productive Today

Introducing small changes into your daily routine can have a tremendous impact on your overall productivity. Start small by incorporating one of these tips weekly until they naturally become good habits.

Share these productivity tips with your colleagues and work together to improve productivity as a team. Stay motivated and encourage one another by measure your progress towards productivity goals. Start using a collaborative task management tool so you can stay on track and communicate effectively — and watch your team reach record productivity!

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