STAY PRODUCTIVE AT WORK REGARDLESS OF YOUR CURRENT WORK ENVIRONMENT.
Employers and employees are always looking for help with being more productive at work. Now, with teams spread out across offices and homes, the question of how to be more efficient and effective is evolving.
Here are 19 tips to increase productivity at work that everyone can embrace, whether working at home, in the office, or in a hybrid setting.
- “Eat the frog”
- Avoid multitasking
- Break your day into blocks
Working in the Office
- Plan your day
- Maximize your commute
- Avoid interruptions
- Block out distractions
- Set up an office area
- Do not disturb
- Minimize diversions
- Take a recess
- Own your calendar
- Schedule daily check-ins
- Avoid micromanagement
- Hang out
- Embrace technology
- Take your time
- Evaluate and evolve
We all know that feeling: overwhelmed and unsure where to start, you wind up doing nothing at all. Work time is commonly wasted by not clearly understanding what is most important. Try starting with this checklist to prioritize when everything on your to-do list seems urgent.
EAT THE FROG
Another way to prioritize is to start your day by identifying what you’re dreading most and just doing it. (The phrase “eat the frog” comes from a Mark Twain quote: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”) Get it out of the way early, and it’ll be smooth sailing from then on.
It feels counter-intuitive: if I’m working on many tasks simultaneously, isn’t that more efficient? Nope. Constantly switching back and forth can leave you less focused and less productive. Pick one thing and stick with it.
BREAK YOUR DAY INTO BLOCKS
One way to single-task, instead of multi-task, is to schedule a portion of time in which you can finish a specific thing before moving on to the next. Here are some tips on how to get started with “chunking” at work.
WORKING IN THE OFFICE
PLAN YOUR DAY
Arrive a few minutes early and use that time to settle in and decide what you need to focus on that day.
MAXIMIZE YOUR COMMUTE
If you’re not working from home, you might as well make the most of your travel time. Consider listening to a motivational podcast or professional development audiobook. A few minutes of mindful meditation or motivational music can also help start your day off right.
A University of California at Irvine study found that office workers are interrupted or switch tasks every three minutes and five seconds on average. And when you’re interrupted—it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to your original task.
So how do you politely minimize desk drop-bys, at least when you’re deep in thought? Try using your email out of office reply, wear headphones, and be polite but firm if someone approaches you to talk while you’re on deadline. You can also read these six secrets for avoiding interruptions at work.
BLOCK OUT DISTRACTIONS
Headphones are also an excellent way to stay focused. Listen to low-volume music or nature sounds to block out noisy chatter.
SET UP AN OFFICE AREA
It’s crucial to design a dedicated space where you can concentrate and work efficiently and creatively. Check out our blog post of helpful hints for creating a productive work environment in the comfort of home.
DO NOT DISTURB
In 2017, a study found the average smartphone user tapped, swiped, or clicked 2,617 times a day. To take back control of your device, try putting your phone on airplane mode or “do not disturb” so you aren’t receiving distracting notifications while trying to work. Or, keep your ringer on in case of important calls, but place your phone out of arm’s reach, so you aren’t tempted to scroll through social media or watch funny videos.
The breakfast dishes are calling your name, and there’s laundry to do. Working from home presents some very different distractions than in the office. If you’re still getting used to this new environment, it can help to micro-schedule your day with a mix of meetings, actual work time, and catching up with coworkers. Fight the urge to tidy up around the house as a way to put off finishing that report. Here are some more tips to beat distractions while working from home.
TAKE A RECESS
No matter where you work, it’s vital to take a break every hour or so to stretch, pet the dog, or drink some water. At home, it can be hard to remember to step away. Set a timer for 50 minutes of concentrated work, and then get outside for some fresh air or take a few laps around your living room. (If you must tackle that load of laundry, this is the time to do it.)
First, a definition: A hybrid work model allows employees to decide if they’d like to work fully remote, in the office, or both, depending on their workload and preferences on any given day or week. Employers may also design rotating schedules for employees to allow remote work on some days while gathering the team in the office on others.
A 2019 study by the International Workplace Group found that 85% of employers who implemented a flexible work environment saw an increase in productivity. The theory is that allowing employees to control their time and create their ideal environment will support them in doing their best work.
For those embracing the hybrid office, here are some additional productivity tips:
OWN YOUR CALENDAR
Make it very clear when you’re available and when you’re off the clock. Set aside blocks of time for deep work (see above) or when you have an upcoming deadline.
SCHEDULE DAILY CHECK-INS
Make it a habit to connect with your team in person, over the phone, or a combination of both. These check-ins keep everyone up-to-speed and eliminate the productivity perils of isolation.
This tip applies to managers, to your work, and your team’s work. Focus on results, not the process. The point of a hybrid work model is to celebrate that everyone works differently.
When employees aren’t all in the same physical space, social connection and interaction are more important than ever to maintain team bonds and promote inclusion. Try one of these team-building activities for remote, hybrid, and in-office teams.
Ensure you and your team have the technology needed to connect wherever you are. Technology can be another way to level the playing field and keep silos from being built (i.e., remote teams vs. office teams.) Normalize video calls even at in-person meetings. Research and implement project management software, chat tools, video conferencing—whatever you need to stay in touch and do your best work.
TAKE BACK YOUR TIME
Avoid burnout by establishing clear expectations about when people can and cannot contact you. Set your phone to “do not disturb” on nights and weekends.
EVALUATE AND EVOLVE
Finally, set aside time at least every quarter to assess what’s working and what’s not, and then adjust.
Check out our blog for more ideas on how to stay focused and stay motivated wherever you and your team are working. We also offer a wide variety of office products that can help boost productivity and organization, available for office or home delivery. Shop our online catalog now or contact our local team at (608) 310-4300 to get started!